July 28, 2014

Guys Movie Night: JAWS

What a treat to see JAWS on the big screen again (for only the second time ever- the first was at the Wang Center in 1995), and this time we saw it while on summer vacation in Chatham, MA, on the same Nantucket Sound that the movie was filmed on.
Our vacation spot at Hardings Beach in Chatham
looks exactly like the beach where Crissy Watkins
went skinny dipping in the opening scenes of the movie.
It was surreal to spend the day on the beach, then step into a movie theater and watch a nearly identical beach get savaged by a killer shark.
I've read some new reviews of JAWS lately on The Dissolve, and I really noticed the Altmanesque overlapping dialog, but mostly the style seems dictated by his restrictions of time, budget, and creative control (he didn't have much).
The movie still scares audiences- I love the moment when Ben Gardener's severed head floats out of the hole in the boat - I knew it was coming and I savored the audience reaction. I honestly could not tell if there was a shriek on the movie's score, or if someone screamed when the head floated into frame. The audience was relief-laughing and murmuring about it halfway through the following scene (the billboard vandalism, see below).
Love the nautical sports coat!
I keep all my ticket stubs, but I
don't usually take photos of them!
Theater Notes: The newly-restored Orpheum Theater in Chatham is very pleasant. The picture and sound were fine, the seats and theater were comfortable, and the audience was totally locked in. My only complaint? The bathroom only had two urinals and a toilet, so there was a line after the movie.
(with George, Adam, and three 1975 throwback 'Gansetts- it was fun crushing my can in stereo with Quint in the movie!)
ALSO on Stub Hubby: See JAWS as one of the Top 20 finalists in my Best Picture Deathmatch

July 11, 2014

Caddyshack

The guys all have lots of hair in 1980!
It was a treat to see Caddyshack in a theater, all the way through. I really appreciated how great Ted Knight is: his unique flavor of asshole WASP is impossible to describe and perhaps hasn't been equaled until Jessica Walter as Lucille Bluth on Arrested Development.
Chevy Chase is only his average charming self, and Bill Murray delivers a tiny gem of a weirdo, thankfully never repeated or exploited beyond these few little scenes.
Rodney Dangerfield never holds still long enough for the camera to focus on him- he bounces around like those wind sock guys at used car dealerships.
Let's not forget the lead character- we root for Danny the caddy (Michael O'Keefe), but why? He's a completely directionless loser who openly cheats on his girlfriend! In 1980, I think this was seen as a preferable alternative to all the motivated "winners" in this movie: not to get too intellectual, but all the country club members - the ones with jobs and ambition - are portrayed as corrupt, out-of-touch boors. A slacker with no prospects doesn't seem so bad by comparison.
Stub Hubby Grade: B-plus
Gen X Note: The distance between Caddyshack (1980) and Ghostbusters (1984) is huge for a mid-Generation Xer like me. I was only 8 when Caddyshack came out, but 12 for Ghostbusters, so I have seen Caddyshack on VHS, but never all the way through in one sitting, whereas I saw Ghostbusters in the theater during the best summer of my life, and 30 years later every frame is encoded in my DNA.
Part of the "Bill Murr-a-thon" at the Arlington Capitol, with George

July 10, 2014

Snowpiercer

A terrific dystopian class warfare action movie. If Terry Gilliam had directed Total Recall, it might have looked something like this. Or, take Gilliam's Brazil, remove most of the black comedy, and replace it with grim cruelty and hatchet fights, and you're close. Chris Evans is good, and Tilda Swinton, again, is hilarious. Jamie Bell adds some lightness. Civilization has been condensed down to a few hundred souls, stratified into two classes and packed into a train. The 99% are unwashed and subsisting in the tail section, while the one percenters enjoy a life of decadence at their expense. Curtis (Chris Evans, bearded) is the reluctant working-class hero who leads the revolt, advancing forward, literally and figuratively, towards the engine where the unseen dictator rules.
The metaphor is a little too on-the-nose, and Snowpiercer is a little too brutal for my taste, but it was still a exciting, inventive, and thought-provoking ride. The ending is a little thematically sloppy. Reminiscent of Total Recall's ending, and Neo's scenes with The Architect in The Matrix, the ending raises as many questions as it answers, and leaves us with plenty to think about. Maybe I'm thinking too "American" when I want Curtis to deliver a snappy one-liner and vanquish his enemy at the end, but this movie is too enigmatic for that. The whole film has a "world cinema" flair to it, another great movie with an international cast, not set in America: the past few years I've enjoyed Pacific Rim, Grand Budapest Hotel, and The Wolverine too, with barely one foot in the U. S. of A.
I can see why Harvey Weinstein didn't want to spend millions to promote this movie- sure it stars Captain America, but the movie does not spare the brutality, and it's not exactly fun, but it's leagues better than the latest Transformers movie.
Stub Hubby Grade: A-minus (for excessive hatchet brutality and children in peril)
Sold-out show at the Brattle Theater, with Adam