Monday, September 30, 2013

Dorothy, Meet Metallica

In the last couple of weeks, I have watched my first two IMAX 3D films. First, I was able to catch The Wizard of Oz up at the TCL (Grauman's) Chinese Theater. Then, last Friday night, I sat with a large crowd at the local AMC IMAX in Riverside to catch Metallica: Through the Never. These are the perfect juxtaposed films to discuss in a single post, in my opinion.

I am not a big fan of 3D, but I am a little more forgiving when the movie was at least shot in 3D. The Wizard of Oz has seen numerous restorations and re-releases. The last digital restoration was in 2009 and now we have another restoration along with a 3D conversion. I found the 3D titles to be captivating but as for the rest of the film, the 3D was basically detectable in only a handful of sequences. Overall, I found it unnecessary. That being said, the film looked fantastic in IMAX. The fear of a large grainy, blown up image, was put at ease. There were some fantastic details I had not seen, such as the rivets on the Tin Man.  I also noticed that the fishing line holding up the Lion's tail was non-existent in this version.  Overall, I was once again reminded that films that were never intended in 3D, should just stay that way, in 2D.

There was something very enjoyable about hearing Judy Garland sing "Somewhere Over The Rainbow" in IMAX proportions. The same can be said for watching James Hetfield sing "Master of Puppets" in the third dimension, as well as in front of a wall of sound.  I am not a huge Metallica fan and was the only male audience member not wearing a Metallica shirt, but I was surprised by the fact that I was familiar with every song played in the movie. That could also be due to the fact that it was basically a "greatest hits" type of set list.  But he movie was not just a concert film. There was also a thin plot about a young roadie who was tasked to go retrieve a bag from a truck that had run out of gas in the middle of the city. A crazy adventure ensues that involves riots, angry dogs and a living doll.

Through The Never, reminded me about the last concert film I saw in a theater, Shine a Light, the Rolling Stones film from 2008. Much like the Metallica film, it showcased a band that is timeless, sharp as ever and the definition of longevity.  This was the perfect time (August 2012 concert dates) to put Metallica on 3D film.

Both The Wizard of Oz and Metallica: TTN, had small releases, just over 300 screens. It is hard to say if there will be a profit made in the box office.  Through The Never had a $18 million dollar budget and getting Oz into 3D was north of that amount.  Oz will continue making money, regardless. It is available tomorrow on Blu-ray and in 3D, if you've got the equipment for that.  And Through The Never will likely recoup it's investment via DVD and soundtrack sales.  Maybe it will turn into a IMAX midnight movie, who knows?

Sunday, September 8, 2013

"Blue Jasmine" (2013)

I like movies. I especially like when I get to go watch movies by made by auteurs.  I enjoy Allen's films but I have not seen all of them, in fact, I've seen only a handful, but I have enjoyed most every one.  During my 7:30 show last night, I again also had the privilege of being the youngest audience member. I'm 37, so I'm not a kid and I should say that the theater I attended usually has a disproportionally high amount of seniors that come to see movies there.  It could also be said, film buffs aside, that few people under 40 would venture out anymore for a Woody Allen film.

The film tells the story of Jasmine, who's life has undergone some major changes recently in her life and we are witness to what brought her to this point.  Honestly a big attraction for me to come see this film was to see Andrew Dice Clay in a straight role. I had heard a recent interview with him and he was very excited to have been part of this film and having the chance to work with Woody Allen. Clay was truly a highlight to the movie. Allen has three talents: writing, directing and casting.

After catching on that the film uses sudden and frequent flashbacks, I found that I really wanted to see more interactions between married couple Jasmine (Cate Blanchett) and Hal (Alec Baldwin).  It was not necessary, however, because their relationship is established with very little exposition needed.  Look out also for a hilarious but short cameo from baby-faced Max Casella, who was almost unrecognizable and appears to finally have done some aging.

Again, with my limited familiarity with Allen's full canon, I can't help but think he definitely harbors anger against women. The lead role of Jasmine is put through the ringer of modern day turmoils: monetary, relationships, family and mental health.  Part of Allen's persona has always been his self-deprecating nature, which is often portrayed onscreen by Allen himself or whomever the male protagonist leads the film. In the case of Blue Jasmine, the role of Jasmine could be interpreted as a female representation of himself, complete with neurotic tendencies and dependent on psych medications.  The film has some really funny moments, but it is more of a drama than anything. 

The recent Allen films have used big cities to feature heavily in the film. I'm especially thinking of Midnight In Paris and To Rome with Love. Blue Jasmine predominantly takes place in San Francisco and uses the city for some fantastic background settings. It's an engaging film. Go see it.