movies this week: merry theatergoing

I’ll be in New Orleans in less than 24 hours, which is why I wrote about movies this week earlier than usual. So it would be particularly cool of me to tell you about the movies opening in New Orleans this week, and the special film events in that town, wouldn’t it?
But I haven’t lived near New Orleans for so long that I have no idea where to look for that information. Besides, most of you don’t care.
My sister wants us all to go to a movie on Christmas Day this year, because the family doesn’t seem to have very much planned, and her film-geek boyfriend would enjoy it. I agreed to see anything they like except Meet the Fockers, which her boyfriend wants to avoid too. My boyfriend, on the other hand, is probably watching the movie right now while he’s enjoying a Jette-free week in Austin. I’m actually hoping we can all see The Life Aquatic, since that’s a movie my boyfriend isn’t thrilled about seeing.
Alamo Downtown is closed on Dec. 24 and 25. The other Alamo theaters are open, though. Arbor at Great Hills appears to be premiering most of the new movies this week. But either you’re the kind of person for whom movies are the last thing on your mind this week, or you’re going to try to figure out how many movies you can see during the time off work. If you’re the latter, I am so envious of you. Enjoy.

Continue reading movies this week: merry theatergoing

The Ladykillers (2004)

The Ladykillers: 2004, dir. Joel and Ethan Coen. Seen on DVD (Dec. 16).
Sometimes I worry that I am losing my sense of humor and fun. Everyone loves Napoleon Dynamite but me. I ran a Google search on Buca di Beppo after writing the previous entry and yeah, everyone seems to think that it is a wonderfully fun place with decent food, except for me. I have tried to watch the TV shows “Arrested Development” and “Scrubs” and didn’t laugh. Am I turning into a humorless old grouch?
But I watched The Ladykillers this week and let me tell you, I laughed my ass off. That is some funny and weird movie. I liked it better than the original, which is an Ealing comedy and classic and so I am probably committing some sort of heresy, but I don’t care. (My review of the 1955 original is here.) The 2004 movie was routinely panned by critics, and no one went to see it, and it seems to be generally considered a flop. But I enjoyed it immensely.

Continue reading The Ladykillers (2004)

Muriel’s Wedding (1993)

Muriel’s Wedding: 1993, dir. P.J. Hogan. Seen on DVD (Oct. 31).
Unfortunately, this movie caused a new agreement about DVD rentals to be established in our household, especially since I saw it not long after renting Priscilla, Queen of the Desert.
The agreement: No more watching movies with ABBA in the soundtrack when my boyfriend is home. It shatters his poor delicate nerves. He has to play a lot of Warren Zevon and John Hiatt afterwards to recuperate.
Fortunately, I really liked Muriel’s Wedding even with the ABBA music. I am not the world’s biggest ABBA fan myself, but I felt the music was very appropriately used in this movie.
I am not the world’s biggest fan of “chick flicks,” either, and I didn’t even think of this movie as a chick flick until it was pointed out to me. (When I am queen of the universe, we will use the term “chick flick” to describe movies in which women kick some serious ass, and there will be many fine movies made in this particular genre. Movies where women sit around the table eating cheesecake until they bond and then start dancing to Motown hits will face my fiery wrath.) This was such a lovely little movie that I didn’t notice it’s chick-flick-ish-ness.

Continue reading Muriel’s Wedding (1993)

Fast Times at Ridgemont High (1983)

Fast Times at Ridgemont High: 1983, dir. Amy Heckerling. Seen on DVD (Nov. 6).
Fast Times at Ridgemont High finally got back in print on DVD, so I didn’t have any more excuses for never having seen it. That’s right. I had never seen Fast Times at Ridgemont High. My boyfriend had That Look that he gave me earlier in the year when I found out I had never seen Caddyshack, so the movie went to the top of our rental list and we got it immediately after the new DVD released. We had this beautiful shiny new DVD from Netflix that we may have been the first people to watch.
I don’t know why I had never seen Fast Times at Ridgemont High, except that I was too young to see an R-rated movie when it first came out in theaters. I don’t know why I didn’t include it in the paper I wrote on teen melodrama for a graduate film class—either it must have seemed like too much of a broad comedy or else it was entirely off my radar. I’ve seen scenes from the movie, and mostly what I knew about was Sean Penn as Spicoli, and that it was directed by Amy Heckerling.
(I used to keep close track of movies directed by women, back in the day. I ought to do that again … I noticed all the movies starting to be nominated for awards for 2004 and realized that women are entirely missing from the director and screenwriting lists, and the acting roles didn’t look that choice either. Greeeeat.)

Continue reading Fast Times at Ridgemont High (1983)

The Getaway (1972)

The Getaway: 1972, dir. Sam Peckinpah. Seen on DVD (Nov. 3).
Sure, Ali McGraw was pretty. I won’t debate that. But why all the fuss? For one thing, her acting annoys the crap out of me. I haven’t seen Love Story and probably won’t unless there is a god of vengeance who will be very displeased in me for not believing in him and, when I die, will subject me to a continuous and unavoidable watching of the worst weepers in cinematic history. I’ve seen clips of the movie, as we all have, and it is enough to assure me that I am not missing some great performance by Ms. McGraw.
She is particularly annoying in The Getaway, and I don’t think we can blame it all on the usual misogyny in Sam Peckinpah movies. I think a better actress would have handled the role in a less snippy and whiny way. Faye Dunaway leaps to mind.
But yeah, all the roles for women in early 1970s American films were rotten, I won’t argue with that. The Getaway is certainly no exception. Sally Struthers plays this babyish chick who thinks nothing of throwing over one boyfriend for another man, and right in front of the boyfriend, too. I can’t think of a woman I’ve liked in a Peckinpah movie except for Ida Lupino in Junior Bonner. I can’t think of a woman I’ve liked in an early 1970s film except for Ruth Gordon in Harold and Maude.

Continue reading The Getaway (1972)

If You Could Only Cook (1935)

If You Could Only Cook: 1935, dir. William A. Seiter. Seen at Alamo Downtown (Nov. 2).
I saw If You Could Only Cook on my birthday, which was also election night. I was surprised by the turnout. Who knew there would be so many people in Austin who would prefer an obscure Jean Arthur movie to watching election results? But apparently there are a lot of film geeks in town, or at least people who love charming little 1930s romantic comedies.
If You Could Only Cook is one of those charming little movies. Jean Arthur, a victim to the Depression-era economy, is trying to find a job so she won’t have to sleep on a park bench. You can imagine that this might have some relevance to today’s viewers. Herbert Marshall, a big-name automobile designer, somehow ends up on a park bench with her and is so taken with her that he pretends he’s out of work, too. They find a job listing for a married couple to work as cook and butler and decide to apply together.
You can see where this is going, can’t you? Of course you can. No surprises, and somewhat artificial, but delightful just the same. The dialogue is often sharp and funny, and the overall tone is frothy and lighthearted.

Continue reading If You Could Only Cook (1935)

The Incredibles (2004)

The Incredibles: 2004, dir. Brad Bird. Seen at Galaxy Highland (Dec. 11).
As anyone who writes about film will tell you (and already has, because it’s a good excuse), it is much easier to write about bad films than good ones. You can do all sorts of imaginative and amusing things with a review of a big stinker. As a result, bad reviews are generally more memorable.
Good reviews … well, how many times can you say, and for how long, that a movie is good? You always end up using the same adjectives, and it is difficult to convey your extreme enthusiasm for a movie.
The Incredibles was very very good and you should all go see it, you will have a wonderfully entertaining time.
There. I’ve told you what I think. Am I done now?

Continue reading The Incredibles (2004)

The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie (2004)

The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie: 2004, dir. Sherm Cohen, Stephen Hillenburg, and Mark Osborne. Seen at Galaxy Highland 10 (Nov. 21).
(This is a spoiler-free review. Read away! Then go see the movie already.)
Oh, that wacky SpongeBob. We don’t even have cable TV and we like him. My boyfriend and I rented the Season 1 DVD a few months ago and spent the weekend watching waaay too much SpongeBob at once. It’s better to space out the episodes a little, something I will have to remember now that the Season 2 DVD is available.
It’s been a nasty, gray weekend in Austin and by Sunday afternoon we were sick of driving in it, sick of staying home and looking at it outside, and generally feeling bleah and grouchy. So we decided to see The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie. It was also a good opportunity to try the Galaxy Highland theater, which several people had recommended very highly. Galaxy is a small chain with theaters that do not show commercials before the movies. I didn’t want to pick The Incredibles for our first movie there, because I am going to be pickier about sound and picture quality for that particular film, but I thought The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie would be a good choice.

Continue reading The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie (2004)

movies this week: pre-turkeys

I get so anxious about seeing all the movies I want to see and new ones are opening and most of them don’t look all that appealing to me, which is good because I’m still trying to figure out what we can fit into this weekend what with the Netflix rentals pouring in and some friends wanting to go to the “surprise” film at Mr. Sinus and if it’s the film I think it is, I’m dying to see what they do to it, and then there’s Fanny and Alexander at the Paramount that I know I ought to see but I’d much rather see The Incredibles but should we see it at Alamo Village, which I love but isn’t the greatest theater to see a big blockbuster-ish movie, but on the other hand won’t have any kids there, or do we force ourselves to deal with commercials and rude crowds so we can enjoy the perks of a bigger theater, and maybe we should wait until they add an outtakes reel anyway, plus everyone’s been telling me I must see Sideways and heaven only knows how much longer Dobie is going to show it, considering they took out Stage Beauty after only a week and are bringing back, I cannot believe this, Napoleon-fucking-Dynamite, instead of showing Kinsey or something new, for which I think they ought to lose their arthouse theater status, since they’re not even showing Undertow, which was written by an Austinite, but I’d have to go to Arbor Great Hills to see it, which I confess I haven’t been to since it reopened and I really should go even though their pre-show “The 2wenty” gives me migraines, not to mention that I’m trying to catch up on a particular film genre I’ve been neglecting and will have to go to Vulcan Video to rent those films and I’ve been spoiled by a mail-order DVD rental service where I do not have to speed across town at 10 pm to return a movie that I finished watching about 5 minutes earlier because I realized it was due back in the store, and hell, let’s face it, what a large part of me really wants to do is forget all this and just watch Shaun of the Dead again. Mmmmm. Zombies.

Continue reading movies this week: pre-turkeys

The Hot Rock (1972)

The Hot Rock: 1972, dir. Peter Yates. Seen on DVD (Oct. 27).
This was another fun movie in a week surprisingly full of fun films. The Hot Rock isn’t a well-known film, despite its having starred Robert Redford, adapted by William Goldman (from a Donald Westlake novel) and directed by Peter Yates, who also directed Bullitt and Breaking Away (one of my favorite movies). Somehow this movie has been forgotten, which is a shame.
A couple of years ago, I went through a phase where I watched a lot of caper movies, heist movies, and con movies, and I don’t know why I stopped. (I don’t know why I started, either—it might have been Ocean’s Eleven or maybe my finding a copy of The Thief Who Came to Dinner.)

Continue reading The Hot Rock (1972)