November 27, 2016

Manchester By The Sea

A powerful, heart-wrenching, near-operatic tragedy, with some reason to hope sprinkled near the end.
Casey Affleck is outstanding as our tragic protagonist Lee Chandler, doing his best to cope with adversity at every turn. When his brother dies, Lee must return to his hometown and reconnect with his nephew Patrick as they grieve in tandem, while Lee is confronted with the skeletons he left behind.
Kenneth Lonergan meticulously wrote and directed an almost impressionistic operatic tragedy. We are allowed to put the pieces together on our own with a minimum of exposition. Except for one key emotional confrontation between Lee and his ex-wife (see photo), the important emotional moments are never discussed.
The cast is so authentic, they feel like they were pulled from the upper deck of a Bruins game.
Lucas Hedges is strong as the 16-year-old Patrick, and Michelle Williams is powerful as Lee's ex-wife.
Our only complaint was the score- the classical and operatic music cues are often intrusive and distracting, almost like they're trying to force the emotional point that the drama is already making. One scene, during a moment of good news, is set to a jaunty jazz score straight out of a Woody Allen movie!
I grew up in Boxford, about 15 miles west of Manchester By-The-Sea (my adolescence also closely resembled The Ice Storm*) so I can tell you this film is the most accurate depiction of wintertime in New England I've ever seen: bare trees, it snows a little bit every day, piles of snow that have melted and re-frozen, and one all-too-familiar scene where Lee and his nephew are stuck outside with no winter coats - New England winters are so long we get tired of wearing heavy coats and just give up after awhile. Lonergan sprinkled landscapes as seen from the road throughout, and he picked great exteriors that show off the unique villages of New England. This is a terrible movie to see in November as the winter snow is about to arrive! The last scene in the film takes place in April, and they shot one scene outdoors during that narrow window when the trees just begin to bud. I truly appreciated this attention to detail.
Really worth the trip. The movie will leave you with plenty to think and talk about.
Essential viewing. My grade: A.
Thanksgiving weekend with Emily at Fenway Screen 9, 7pm (movie started at 7:20) - thanks to Debbie D for babysitting!
*Coincidence: I saw The Ice Storm 19 years ago this week.

November 26, 2016

Christian Marclay: THE CLOCK

Visited the film for a third time- or is it fourth? With my Aunt Kathy from 10:30am until 11:15. I always find it funny to see this wide range of world cinema spanning decades, with Jason Statham sprinkled in. This segment also had scenes from Keira Knightley's Pride & Prejudice, Harry Potter & The Chamber of Secrets, and about 5 seconds of Four Weddings & A Funeral.

November 25, 2016

Fantastic Beasts & Where To Find Them

We enjoyed the movie very much. The beasts were fantastic indeed - the niffler was charming and the massive rhinoceros beast was gorgeous. I appreciated J.K. Rowling wrote this script herself - the themes of the film feel like classic Rowling ideas. Eddie Redmayne was too twitchy and introverted for our taste. We could literally understand about 15% of his dialog. Of course he spends the whole movie explaining stuff you don't have to know, but it was damned annoying regardless. Dan Fogler (Balls of Fury) was charming and hilarious as a Muggle, erm, I mean "No-Maj". Thanksgiving weekend at Belmont Studio Cinema; Date Night with my wife! Thanks Debbie D for babysitting.

November 21, 2016

158 Roller Rink Super Hits

  1. "Fortress Around Your Heart" ~ Sting
  2. "Tenderness on the Block" ~ Warren Zevon
  3. "Milwaukee" ~ The Both (aka Ted Leo & Aimee Mann)
  4. "We Will Rock You" [fast live version] ~ Queen
  5. "Crumblin Down" ~ John Cougar Mellencamp
  6. "No Matter What" ~ Badfinger
  7. "Stay The Night" ~ Benjamin Orr
  8. "Wish You Were Here" ~ Nick Lowe & Paul Carrack
  9. "Only The Lonely" ~ The Motels
  10. "Talking In Your Sleep" ~ The Romantics
  11. "Harden My Heart" ~ Quarterflash
  12. "The Kids Are Alright" ~ The Who
  13. "Mandinka" ~ Sinead O'Connor
  14. "Lovely Rita" ~ The Beatles
  15. "Come Dancing" ~ The Kinks
  16. "You Can Look (But You Better Not Touch)" ~ Bruce Springsteen
  17. "Will The Wolf Survive?" ~ Los Lobos
  18. "Head Above Water" ~ Hall & Oates
  19. "You Are" ~ Lionel Richie

November 16, 2016

Christian Marclay: The CLOCK (again)

I saw a two-hour segment of the movie, from 7:30pm -9:50pm. See my full review (2011 & 2016)

November 12, 2016


Arrival is a preferred flavor of alien movie: an intense, cerebral mind-bender about the purpose of mankind in the galactic landscape. Why are we here? What's our destiny as a species? Why is our humanity important? Can we persevere and transcend our differences as a civilization? Director Denis Villeneuve tackles all the above Big Questions in an oblique, Kubrick/Malick-ian style. Amy Adams is terrific as Dr Louise Banks, a linguistics professor who must solve a urgent puzzle: How do we talk to an alien race before hostilities break out? The movie nicely illustrates how we use all our life experiences when problem-solving. We don't stay "in the moment" when cracking a puzzle, our minds may wander all over for answers. Part of Louise's challenge is the fundamental nature of language; our language shapes how we think, so will she begin to think like an alien as she learns their language?
There are a lot of parallels with Contact and Gravity, especially how the lead character is a woman whose traumatic history directly effects the current events.
If you're looking for a movie with Randy Quaid kamikaze-ing a mothership and Will Smith punching out a slimy alien, look elsewhere.
Highly recommended for a thought-provoking evening, if occasionally plodding and oblique. My Stub Hubby Grade: A-minus. Somerville Theater, Screen 1, with Adam.