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Movies of this Week!

You guys! I bring tidings of great joy! Beside all the other good stuff that happened last week, I mean. There are movies to squee about!

Like every year, I largely celebrated Pride Week here in San Francisco by going to the Frameline (LGBTQ) Film Festival at the historic Castro Theater. We all gather, listen to the Mighty Wurlitzer upon which the organist this year played "The Wedding March" to tumultuous applause, among other entertaining things. It's an ultra-fun scene, and the films can be quite wonderful.

I went to three biggish films which will most likely be coming to a theater or streaming device near you:

1. Peter Greenaway's lush and swoony Eisenstein in Guanajuato is delightful. It's a reimagining of a pioneering Soviet director, Sergei Eisenstein, sojourning during the filming of his never finished epic film Que Viva Mexico. I like Greenaway's films, although I can do without his usual body horror elements, so am happy to report that this film has none of those. It's a constant motion love letter to a man who was also in constant motion. A snapshot of genius, with triple-split screens to indicate his multitrack mind. Every frame is gorgeous.

2. Addicted to Fresno, the new film by Jaime Babbit, the director of But I'm A Cheerleader. had a drool-worthy cast doing a veeeeery darkly comic riff on co-dependence. An optimistic young woman tries to help her escaped-from-rehab sex-addict sister, but nothing she does is ever enough. Natasha Lyonne, Judy Greer, Aubrey Plaza, Fred Armisen, Molly Shannon, Clea Duvall (briefly), Alison Tolman (from Fargo), and the awesome Malcolm Barrett (Lem from Better Off Ted) were all excellent, but more than half the characters are really mean and just awful, terrible people. Not just misguided, either. I sort of wanted to yell at the poor, deluded nice characters to run for the hills, and save themselves. Of course, that's what I did when I lived in Fresno, so maybe I was projecting a bit. I...probably won't see it again, even if I did laugh in horror many, many times.

3. On Saturday night, there was a screening of, I kid you not, Magic Mike XXL.

It was a big party day all over town, being Pink Saturday. the day we celebrate the ladies, but my friend Debi took time out from her brimming social schedule to come with me, even though she hadn't seen the first Magic Mike. I did see it, and IMHO it suffered from too much plot. I usually like things that are intricately written, but fer cryin' out loud! In a musical — which dance movies are when they aren't sports movies —people should express their sorrow and bad life choices through the medium of the boffo production number. I'm sure I'm right about this. So, spare me your drug-deal-gone-bad subplots and moping about the emptiness of life. Dance it out! Word was that this time it was going to be less drama, more dance, so I figured it would be okay.


I needn't have worried. There was a surprise floor show before the movie. Strobe lights, hunky dancing boys standing up and gyrating in their seats to the techno. The sold-out crowd — of largely gay men, understand — went completely bananas before the curtain even came up. It was a masterful stroke. But sort of unnecessary because the movie itself completely exceeded all expectations.

The plot is perfect and simple: Let's take a road trip to the stripper convention! That's all. Once the old gang convinces Mike (Channing Tatum) to come along, they are off on their odyssey, in a fro-yo truck, where they meet new and old friends and bond in manly fashion and reveal their deepest hopes and aspirations to one another. Which they then express through interpretive dance! Sublime. It fully embraces the silly premise, but doesn't quite tip over into camp, which would have been easy to do. (I wouldn't have minded; camp is great.) Instead, it makes us root for the lovable lugs, when we're not marveling over their amazing moves. Ultimately, it's a sweet story of people being accepting and supportive of one another. With lots of oil involved. The perfect capper to Pride weekend.

One unexpected element was the marvelous take-no-prisoners female characters. Jada Pinkett, Elizabeth Banks and Andie MacDowell all play the strong Southern women we want as our friends and protectors. With them representing, I became convinced that we are indeed all Queens.

Also, it just gets funnier as it goes along. The humor is the loving and character-based kind, except for when it's the lewd, dance-based kind. Both work for me. Note to hello_spikey: it's got everything but "hurt the pretty". Don't be sad.

It was the most fun I've ever had at the movies. (Close runners up are Galaxy Quest and Down With Love.) I'm still smiling, although a little hoarse from laughing so loudly and screaming along with the guys in the crowd.

I've seen a few other things: Inside Out is a wonder of a 3-hankie affair. Kingsman: The Secret Service is over-the-top violent, but a real hoot, in that Kick-Ass kind of way — it's the same writer and director. Lucy was surprisingly cerebral, but also, very, very violent and contained at least one tiresome car chase. I liked it, nevertheless. Jupiter Ascending, on the other hand, is entirely the stinker the critics warned us about. It's almost entirely car spaceship chases. Ho hum. There were one or two pretty dresses, I guess. I expect more from The Wachowskis.

Still to see are Spy, Chappie, and of course, once more unto the breech of Magic Mike XXL. I want to see if it's half as much fun without the film festival audience. If it is, I may go a third time.

Season 3 of Orphan Black is over, and it probably jumped the shark in there somewhere, but I can't be bothered to look away from Tatiana Maslany long enough to care. Also, check out Mr. Robot, if you can. It might be as suspenseful as The Americans!

This entry was originally posted at http://rebcake.dreamwidth.org/38813.html. Please comment here or there using OpenID.


( 12 comments — Leave a comment )
Jun. 30th, 2015 10:50 am (UTC)
I actually really liked Jupiter Ascending, but then, I adore space operas, and that one was so ridiculous that I couldn't help but love it. It was, as one reviewer said, like a 14-year-old girl wrote a space opera with a space princess and her angel-werewolf boyfriend.

And now I REALLY want to see Magic Mike XXL.
Jun. 30th, 2015 06:16 pm (UTC)
The Jupiter and her loyal wolf bodyguard storyline was fine with me, and when the wings came out at the end, I could practically feel the Tumblr squee. I just...don't get as into chases-and-shit-blowing-up as I used to. And I do prefer that my heroine's show a bit more agency.

Of course, I was thinking it might surprise me the way "Chronicles of Riddick" did. The critics hated it, but it was freaking Macbeth in space! What's not to love about that? And there were chases aplenty in that and I barely remember the heroine, even though I know she was badass, so all my high ideals are admittedly squishy.

In any case, I'm kinda hoping that MMXXL outperforms all the special effects blockbusters, if you know what I mean...
Jul. 1st, 2015 06:42 am (UTC)
I haven't seen the first Magic Mike movie, but now I sort of want to. I am always impressed (and surprised to be impressed) by Channing Tatum. Have been ever since Step Up.

Also, check out Mr. Robot, if you can. It might be as suspenseful as The Americans!

Is that actually possible? Also, what did you think of the season three finale of The Americans? Or of season 3 in general?

I loved it, btw, as you've probably gathered.

I expect more from The Wachowskis.

Don't forget Matrix Revolutions. ;)

Speaking of them, though (and I had no idea until just now that one of the Wachowski 'brothers' was actually a sister), have you been watching Sense8 at all? I ask because I've watched three episodes and am still at the stage of not knowing if I'm watching pretentious rubbish or something amazing. It does tick a lot of boxes - very multi-racial/multi-sexual cast, high production values etc. I'm just not sure about the story yet.

San Francisco is one of the settings (do the Wachowskis hail from there?). One of the characters is a transexual woman with a gay girlfriend (played by Freema Agyeman, who was Martha in Doctor Who, if you remember). There've been great scenes of the city, including some of the Pride Parade (or a staged version of it).
Jul. 1st, 2015 03:40 pm (UTC)
Channing Tatum gives off the first impression of a dumb jock type, when seen in photos, but he really, really isn't! I never expected to be so entertained by him, in such a variety of films. He's just so game, and in motion...well. Ahem. That said, the Joe Manganiello character, Big Dick Richie, is just as much of a lead in this one as Tatum. Which is by no means a bad thing. Everybody shines!

This first MM had some amazing dancing, and is probably worth seeing just for that, but the downer of a plot really detracted. That's not an issue with MMXXL. ;-) *\o/* All you really need to know is that Mike dances with a troupe called "The Kings of Tampa", but at the end gets out of the business to pursue his dream of furniture making. And a Good Woman.

Somehow, I managed to miss Matrix Revolutions. I think I saw part of the extended rave scene while wandering by the TV, but didn't see the need to stop.

I'm about where you are with Sense8! I'm pretty sure I'm going to keep watching, because I find the characters really compelling, but I can see where it might be hard going — that's a lot of balls to keep in the air. I do find all the "in hospital against her will" stuff to be horrifying, although Not Likely. Informed consent is v.v. big these days. As Lana Wachowski probably knows very well. I say this as someone who has actually left hospital against doctor's orders recommendation, myself. I guess the needs of the plot trump all, though.

And the San Francisco stuff is very heartwarming on our end. The Wachowskis are not local, but I've got to think that they've spent a lot of time here. McDiva was excited because she and her friends were actually there when they filmed the scene where Freema rides the motorcycle, at last year's Pride. She had no idea what it was for, but Freema! So, yeah, it was definitely filmed at the genuine article.

P.S. I think Mr. Robot put me in mind of The Americans because it is almost structured that same say. The hacker guy, Elliot, is this high-minded, damaged guy whose secret identity is his "real" self, but if it ever came out, there would be very serious consequences indeed. It's done without violence, though, so that's different. It's got a bit of Elementary and a bit of Point of Interest in its DNA, too. Really good, in any case.

I also loved this season of The Americans. I never know what to say, except whoa. The whole arc with Phillip and the CIA daughter was such a nail biter. Jeez.

Edited at 2015-07-01 10:32 pm (UTC)
Jul. 2nd, 2015 06:31 am (UTC)
I do find all the "in hospital against her will" stuff to be horrifying, although Not Likely.

Me too - also the horrible mother who insists on calling Nomi 'Michael.' I would imagine it'll turn out everyone at the hospital is working for the evil guy with the beard.

McDiva was excited because she and her friends were actually there when they filmed the scene where Freema rides the motorcycle, at last year's Pride. She had no idea what it was for, but Freema! So, yeah, it was definitely filmed at the genuine article.

Really? That's great. I think Freema looks amazing (though her accent slips occasionally).

You don't by any chance have the inside story on why Sierra Hahn left the Buffy comics, do you?
Jul. 2nd, 2015 03:10 pm (UTC)
I don't know why Sierra is leaving, but my guess is that she got an offer from a larger publisher. She's a young, sweet, competent gal and anybody would be lucky to get her, I suspect. Given her age, it could also be that some young swain has convinced her to move elsewhere.

Whatever the case, I wish her very well, indeed. She did right by us.
Jul. 2nd, 2015 03:21 pm (UTC)
I agree. I'm sad that she's going. :(
Jul. 1st, 2015 03:22 pm (UTC)
Mr Robot is just.... I can't even.... I am already in its thrall.
Jul. 1st, 2015 03:51 pm (UTC)
There's a new one tonight! Woo!

Yeah, it really burst out of the starting gate like whoa! I hope it can keep up with all that promise.
Jul. 5th, 2015 06:25 pm (UTC)
Jul. 1st, 2015 07:16 pm (UTC)
Sounds like a feast for the eyes!

I loved Galaxy Quest so much (nothing comes close in its understanding of fans) that I really want to see Magic Mike in all of its installments.

And now I miss Better Off Ted, which I found more relatable (and more entertaining and less cringe-worthy) than The Office, because work is dysfunctional, but not as dysfunctional as the latter, you know? Truly one of my favorite TV series. Too bad it was so short-lived.
Jul. 1st, 2015 07:38 pm (UTC)
I knew I would like Galaxy Quest going in because, as you say, fandon catnip. But it was structured so well and the characters were so perfectly rendered, that it eclipsed all that. I didn't expect to love it. Again, seeing it in a packed theater, as with MMXXL, really adds to the excitement factor. There wasn't the case with Down With Love, more's the pity.

Better Off Ted was so wonderful. *sniff*
( 12 comments — Leave a comment )



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