my movies january 2014

I’m always a little surprised when I see my movie lists. I know people who don’t see a movie a month let alone several a week. I’m more surprised because I feel like I watch a fair amount of tv. Where do I find the time? If only I could use this power for good. Well anyway.

1 – Snakes on a Plane – not any fun
2 – Witness for the Prosecution – Laughton’s prickly fun
3 – West of Memphis – our prejudiced peers4 – Best Exotic Marigold Hotel – India scares me
5 – Bronson – fell asleep, twice
6 – After the Sunset – frothy heist fun
7 – her – actually liked Scarlett
8 – Stranger than Fiction – good weird fun
9 – Brave – Emma Thompson’s everywhere
10 – Chronicles of Riddick – not my choice
11 – Admission – dumb and boring
12 – Frankenstein* – riveting, dynamic theater
13 – Behind the Candelabra – narcissist made sympathetic
14 – Promised Land – hate Damon’s writing
15 – Beautiful Creatures – not too bad
16 – Philomena – those damn Magadalenes
17 – A Good Day to Die Hard – should’ve stayed dead
18 – Looper – one freaky kid

* This was one of those “events” promoted during previews in movies theaters. Touted as “Special Events” these are limited showings of live performances – theater, opera, concerts – presented in a movie theater. I have been a season subscriber to the opera for 18 years. I support any attempt to engage new audiences to opera in particular but I was always suspect of how it would play in a movie theater. Opera pretty much defines grand theater and it would have to be reduced to a movie screen. Also, opera is performed without amplification, the orchestra and singers perform without microphones, relying on their own ability and the acoustics of the room. I also assumed the camera would mimic an audience member or those PBS Great Performances and stay pretty static. Basically, I wasn’t sold.

But I have always lamented not being able to hop the Concorde to see some of the great London plays. One such play was a retelling of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein directed by Danny Boyle, starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Jonny Lee Miller alternating performances as either Dr. Frankenstein or The Monster. And so my first foray into theater at the movies. I don’t know how much Danny Boyle had to do with the filming of the play but I am guessing he had some if not quite a bit. I thought they did a wonderful job of bringing the play to life. Rather than a static shot of the proscenium that I expected, there were dynamic camera moves that reveled in the wonderful stage and fantastic lighting with perspectives you’d never have as a live audience member. I am curious to see another play and if all of them are so well filmed.