Wednesday, June 14, 2006

In Which Joe Bloviates on the Magic of the Cinema

I hadn’t been to a movie theatre since February. In light of the once a week at least movie-going habit I'd developed over the last 2-3 years, that seemed an obscene amount of time to be away from my sticky-floored Mecca. Not that I didn’t know why I hadn’t been in so long. Combine an unusually busy spring, work-wise, with the usual crappy quality of films in the first quarter, then toss in a pinch of burn-out from the 2005 crop of movies -- which I seemed to invest a lot into (tried to see every single movie that passed through town no matter if it appealed to me or not, and cared way too much about the damn Oscars), despite having precious few flicks I actually loved -- and I totally get why I took a break. But with even my Netflix list gathering dust and my scour-the-internet-for-casting-news-and-trailers habit going the way of my "I'll smoke when I drink...maybe" habit, I figured it was time to get back to the cinema. The cinema! Where pretense rules all, and the lady three rows back just won't shut up! I missed it.

Plus, what better excuse to get up off my fat ass than Robert Altman? A Prairie Home Companion just opened, and I've been looking forward to it for over a year. Incidentally, I'm declaring shenanigans on the word "prairie." That first "i"? Is an asshole. It fucks me up every time, and when I try and compensate for it, I wind up writing "Parairie" which makes me look for-real retarded. Spell it how it sounds, Webster's. Anyway, because I'm attending the noon matinee, and because it's A Prairie Home Companion, I end up among the oxygen tank crowd. Plusses of going to the movies with the oxygen tank crowd: they're very polite, and they respect the buffer zone concept, on account of needing extra space for said tanks of life-sustaining air. Minuses of going to the movies with the oxygen tank crowd: you'd think "polite" would extend to not talking during the movie, but you'd be wrong, and since none of them can hear, they're super loud about it. And it's all really pedestrian stuff, like "We should see that movie about the Devil reading Pravda." I mean, at least make a bitchy comment about Anne Hathaway's bangs, old people, jeez.

As for the movie itself, it was delightful. Just really well done, and it leaves you actually wanting more, which is so rare these days. As always with Altman, the dialogue is naturalistic and funny, and he manages to do this every single time, and without the benefit of a truly repertory-like troupe like, say, Christopher Guest has. This time around, gold stars go to Meryl Streep, Lily Tomlin, Lindsay Lohan, Woody Harrelson, John C. Reilly and a host of other. Even Garrison Keillor, who may look like a bullfrog but manages to be a better actor than I gave him credit for. It's also a remarkably nimble movie, one which saw the inclusion of not one, but two characters who could have proved to be huge problems for the story, but through the acting -- Kevin Kline and Virginia Madsen doing some great work -- and the way the film lets them weave in and out just like everyone else, they manage to fit. Loved the whole thing. I need to figure out a way for Streep and Tomlin to get nominated as Supporting Actress as a dual entry. They're that good together. And Lohan, while looking like a bag of bones, still has that glimmer of the great actress she really is, and I hope somebody tells the President that Iraq can wait, but Lindsay needs our help now.

So it would appear that I'm back. No more having to shamefacedly admit that the last movie I'd seen was Glory Road. The upcoming movies are starting to look good again -- The Devil Wears Prada and Little Miss Sunshine looking especially promising. And I'll be on Nathaniel's site at the end of the week talking movie trailers. In fact, I think I might bring the "trailer trash" feature from the old 411 column here to the blog. I always liked that, and it's good fodder for discussion in the comments. Anyway, point being: movies good, old people loud. And kinda smelly. I didn't want to say anything, but...yeah.


wolfchick said...

I wanted to boycott Prada on account of how fup duck (thanks, Wikipedia!) the book was, what with no plot or likeable characters or anything. Really, the only thing it had going for it was seven or eight figures worth of fantastic title.

But the trailers look so good. I swear, if you listen carefully you can actually hear the chemistry between Streep and Hathaway sizzling under the dialogue. It's probably a ruse that will reveal itself within the first ten minutes, but they've already suckered me in.

Curse you, Fox trailer magicians!

Anonymous said...

"for-real retarded"??? Sheer brilliance, Joe! I've had to give up my 'tard references since becoming a teacher (it's frowned upon... something about insensitivity to special needs and blah blah blah) and I'm supposed to avoid doing that thing where one slaps one's wrist to one's chest and vacantly but passionately says "duhr." Thanks for taking up the mantle!

Joe R. said...

Low Resolution: allowing you to not feel bad about making the retard hand gesture, since 2006.

patty m. said...

Did/ will you see Shopgirl? I'm trying to decide if it's a girl fantasy (older guy buys her nice things, pays off student loans, looks at her longingly over good wine; then younger guy grows up because of her advice and becomes perfect boyfriend) or a guy fantasy (younger woman digs older guy, Claire Danes shaves her legs something like 20 times over the course of the movie). Love to hear your thoughts.

Also, you might like reading The Pleasure of My Company, Steve Martin's follow-up to Shopgirl. It's funny and short, and is supposed to be on its way to a theater near you soon.

Joe R. said...

Saw Shopgirl. Really disliked it. In fact, I wrote about it here. Just a really disappointing movie, and I think a lot of the blame was on the story, so I'm not so keen at giving Steve Martin another shot.

Stephanie V.W. Lucianovic said...

The fact that I grew up in the Twin Cities means I have to see this movie. HOWEVER, I am not at all happpy that Garrison didn't let Janis Hardy or Philip Brunelle star in it. They're both regulars on his show, both insanely talented, and both deserving of recognition on the big screen.

But if Joe liked it, I'm sure I'll like it.