Friday, October 15, 2010

Movies in Manhattan

I just got back from a brief trip to the Hudson Valley to attend SJ's twin sister's wedding and spend a few days in NYC post-wedding. Of course, films were on the docket. Even though we were only there for two full days and three nights, got to see four films. It helped that we were staying in  a borrowed apartment at Macdougal and Bleeker--within walking distance of lots of good theatres. I am highly envious of the location of that apartment!

First up was Inside Job at the Angelika. We actually bought tickets to see the new Woody Allen film, You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger, but as we went down stairs a quick decision to switch it up was made. Inside Job is about the 2008 global economic crisis and is so chock-full of business talk, I felt like I needed a MBA just to figure out what in the world was going on. Too many talking heads, acronyms, complicated business talk for me I guess. Also, I am not sure why I keep watching these docs about how corrupt a society we live in. All it does is infuriate and get my blood pressure up about issues I have absolutely no impact on. No regular person does. Inside Job is another of those kinds of docs, when you can understand what these sleazy, greedy banking bastards are doing.

Waiting for a "Superman" was our second documentary and this time we were at Sunshine on Houston Street. Over earnest and a bit disappointing, this attempts to tell how our public school system is screwed up in America. You don't say? Well, it is if you weren't aware of that fact. Seems the kids can't read, write or do math (or comprehend business talk either based on my fogginess during Inside Job) and this is especially true in the inner city where schools are dropout wastelands. The problem here is it should have focused more on the desperation of the kids and their families that they get into one of the charter schools profiled, rather than going dry and telling the viewer repeatedly how messed up things are. We already know that. Connect us emotionally to more kids and I'll remember that long after some of the statistics are cited. Maybe I didn't like this that much because as soon as it ended I was heading down the street to Katz's Deli for some pastrami?

One of my favorite things about being in New York City is the endless opportunity to watch old films in a theatre with other people. Film Forum is currently having a great two-week festival of heist related movies and we caught A Fish Called Wanda, a peerless 1988 heist/comedy that stars Kevin Kline, John Cleese, Jamie Lee Curtis and Michael Palin. I hadn't seen this in over a decade and sure forgot just how unrelentingly funny this movie is. Kline just goes for it from beginning to end and Cleese does a couple of psuedo double-takes that might be in the running for best double-takes in film history. He holds his bafflement for so long it's not really a double-take, it's way more than that.

Our last film was another documentary, Marwencol, at the IFC. This was an odd one. Very low budget look at this guy who is viciously attacked in Kingston, NY and left for dead. Brain-damaged after the attack, he begins to build a fantasy world around his house that involves WW2 and a fictional story set in Belgium all done in 1/6 scale. He's completely lost in this world of alter-egos, battles, good vs. bad and dolls. Probably a little too long, Marwencol is still an interesting look at the lengths one man goes to keep his mind and body busy whilst it can do little else after an act of brutality.

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