About Me

A blog wherein a literary agent will sometimes discuss his business, sometimes discuss the movies he sees, the tennis he watches, or the world around him. In which he will often wish he could say more, but will be obliged by business necessity and basic politeness and simple civility to hold his tongue. Rankings are done on a scale of one to five Slithy Toads, where a 0 is a complete waste of time, a 2 is a completely innocuous way to spend your time, and a 4 is intended as a geas compelling you to make the time.

Monday, May 19, 2008

4 cultural events and a burrito

The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian. Seen Sunday Morning May 18 @ the AMC Loews Kips Bay, Auditorium #9. 1.5 slithy toads.

Port Authority. Seen Sunday Afternoon May 18 @ the Atlantic Theatre main stage. Me, 1 slithy toad; the rest of the world more?

Yella. Seen Sunday Afternoon May 18 @ the Cinema Village, Auditorium #1. 2 slithy toads.

Chicken Fajita Burrito. Eaten at the St. Marks Place Chipotle Sunday Evening May 18. Yummy Yummy in my Tummy

Reprise. Seen Sunday evening May 18 @ the Landmark Sunshine Cinema, Auditorium #1. 3 slithy toads.

So Narnia first. I had been terribly ambivalent about even seeing the first movie, but ended up finding it perfectly adequate. My hope and the buzz was in part that the 2nd movie would find the series settling into a groove, but I was underwhelmed. The biggest problem may be that I've seen all of this so many times before. How many fantasy novels or movies have I come across that start with an heir to the throne being spirited out of the palace? More than you might imagine, because in my case it includes all of the variations on this theme that I stumble across in my slush pile which are likely not to go further because they're just not doing anything special enough to become the umpteenth variation on the theme. How many big fantasy battle scenes have I seen play out on the screen? Again, many many many of them. When we got to the big battle scene at the end, with the outcome never in doubt and the movie's ability to offer any new experience to me equally not in doubt, I did the same thing as I did during the extended bloated battle scene at the end of the Transformers. I took a long, hearty nap. And I don't think I missed anything. Maybe those less experienced in the field would find more to enjoy in this movie than I, but if you've seen one fantasy movie you've probably seen this one.

This is not shaping up as a good season at the Atlantic Theater. Maybe the critics will rave about Port Authority as they did Parlor Song, which I lambasted in the early days of my blog, but I just don't see it. Conor McPherson is a highly regarded UK dramatist, but not in my book. He likes to do monologues, which I don't like. I like my drama to have drama, and there isn't much in having characters on the stage that never interact with one another and get up to deliver speeches. These speeches didn't interest me very much. Modestly so for only one of the monologues, about a young Irishman tryiing to make his break from home with failure predestined. Not at all for the others. And all of it so depressing.

Yella and Reprise are both movies that I decided to see on the basis of some good reviews in the Friday papers. There have been a lot of articles recently about the disappearing film critic (here's one from Variety in December, and in April from the NY Times) which calls into question how much more this will happen. The NY Times was the main daily to run full reviews. Did Newsday ignore? The Post and the Daily News just little itty bitty squibs. I'm one of those people who does pay attention to a critical consensus.

And three cheers to the Museum of the Moving Image, which is rollling out some member discounts that enabled me to save a few dollars seeing both of these movies, which will almost certainly have me seeing an extra movie or two at these theatres.

Yella was the more ambivalently reviewed, and deservedly so. German lady leaves the farm for a career in business and to escape the jilted lover who is stalking her. It's well-crafted, but it has an ending that makes a giant cheat of it all if not for the fact that you might see it coming from an autobahn away.

Reprise is a Norwegian movie that hit the world two years ago when it received this Variety review. It finally arrives on NY screens greeted by hosannas of praise from film reviewer Manohla Dargis. I'm more with the ambivalent praise from Variety than the over-the-top praise from the Times. Yes, there is something fresh about the movie. It manages to interweave in time without making things confusing or obvious simply by making good use of the language of cinema. The youthful cast is a pleasure to look at. It deals with writers and writing, which is a bonus for me, and Peter V. Brett would almost certainly enjoy the scene in which the publisher suggests an alternate title to one of the two young authors at the center of the film. We don't see too many movies from Scandinavia so I was looking at the sides and the margins of the screen to immerse myself in the scenery. But if you read the Variety review, you'll find how it references Gallic cinema, and I sadly found myself thinking this movie shares some of the same flaws with many of the overrated French movies I've seen. In particular, this is like an Eric Rohmer movie in having some longeurs about it, and I don't understand why critics like this stuff. I found myself looking at my watch way too often for this to be a great movie, and ultimately I'm not sure that it goes anywhere.

Coda: If my review of Iron Man didn't sate you, feel free to enjoy Brandon Sanderson's.

1 comment:

Peat said...

If Brandon Sanderson's blog allowed comments, I would totally rip into him for saying Forbidden Kingdom was even worth the ticket price, much less better than Iron Man.