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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.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

movies down under

I saw five movies while I was in Australia in September.

Four Lions is a British black satire about Islamic terrorism, very droll and very sardonic, in the tradition of but much better than last year's In the Loop.  I saw this at a classic art multiplex, four small sloped floor screens at the Palace Kino on the eastern edge of Collins St. in downtown Melbourne, and in that bad time during the mid-afternoon when the body can want to be in siesta mode. I wasn't able to resist the siren call of the siesta but liked what I did see enough to wish I had been awake for more of it, yet not so much that I wanted to see again when it opened in New York in November. In part because I could see the same thing happening again.  It's just awfully hard to make droll work for ninety minutes. And can you really stretch a joke about inept terrorists for this long. And it is one joke, slowly building to a planned suicide bomb attack on a London marathon by men dressed in animal suits. Which, if you think sounds at all funny,might be occasion enough to rent.

The next evening I went to the Greater Union Russell Street 6 to see Going the Distance.  Appealing cast but mediocre movie, hardly worth talking about. The theatre is quite nice, a teardown and rebuild where even the small screens are nice and two larger screens very nice indeed, and very creative in it's use of space. That there is such a huge screen hiding above the lobby and another one in the basement.  However, on the night I was there, there was no sound out of the left surround speakers and sitting on the left side of the theater this was very distracting.

But there are few theaters of any sort to compare to the Astor, where I saw Grindhouse the next night. This is a beautiful huge old theatre about to celebrate it's 75th birthday. With a massive screen.  A lobby with three different lounge areas.  A major league balcony. A modern and powerful sound system. And different movies six nights a week, sometimes even a double feature. And with the original coming attractions for some of the forthcoming films. . My one night to go they were showing Grindhouse in the roadshow version with both parts and an intermission.  The movie isn't very good, and I stayed for only the first of the two parts, but even if I didn't like the movie much I loved the experience of seeing it.  Words can't describe the size of the screen. If you are in Melbourne, I suggest this as a must see. Look at the schedule for any week, and it's reason enough to move to Melbourne.  

In Adelaide, I visited the Greater Union Arndale for Despicable Me and had another negative experience with them. Huge single line for both tickets and concessions, and two people plus manager chipping in to handle all the ticket sales and all the concessions. So even though we got to the theatre with a few minutes to spare we barely made it to our movie before the trailers ended.  But it was another nice theatre, modern stadium seating with even the smallest auditoriums having nice sized screens. The movie was good. It had a little more heart and a little less wisecrackery than a lot of other current animated movies. We saw it in 3D and that was a waste. The movie would have been just as good in 2D. 

The final movie was something called Boy that I saw at the Hoyts Paris in the Entertainment Quarter. This is an area southeast of downtown Sydney adjacent to the Fox studios that has a huge Hoyts multiplex with the smaller Paris around the quarter for art films, and then an assortment of uninteresting eateries. It was pretty close to dead on a Wednesday evening. And the movie was a plotless bore that I happily slept through.     

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