Monday, January 19, 2015

Saturday night cabin fever

Talk about cabin fever. I drove into Windsor for Devonshire Cineplex’s 7.05 pm screening of American Sniper (Clint Eastwood) Saturday night. The ticket seller was kind enough to tell me that the only remaining seats were likely in the front row. Nuts to that. So I got in my car and drove a few kilometres up the road to Silver City Cineplex. That house was worse. I could barely get in the front door. A line of people snaked around with perhaps a hundred waiting to buy tickets. The kiosks had about a dozen or more at each. So I was out of there! Why so many people? True, it was early Saturday night - prime weekly movie going time. But the break in the weather – the first above freezing temps since the New Year – must have had something to do with it. Perhaps this week I’ll make the trek to see the enormously popular Sniper – top January weekend box office ever, according to today’s NY Times – the six Oscar-nominated (including best picture) film based on the true life of military hero Chris Kyle, played by Bradley Cooper...I was going to double bill this Saturday with The Imitation Game (Morten Tyldum). Not that I particularly wanted to see the Benedict Cumberbatch-starring film about the breaking of the German Enigma code during World War II. I’m so tired of WW II movies. But all reports are that this is a great film. As well, I thought I’d add it to my bucket-of-popcorn list to see another of the films nominated for this year's best picture (I’ve seen Whiplash, Birdman, Boyhood, The Grand Budapest Hotel and The Theory of Everything).

So what did I do instead? I returned home, logged on to Netflix, and found a little known picture called 28 Hotel Rooms. Matt Ross’s 2012 first film is an interesting idea – two lovers who only meet around the country when business takes them to the same cities. So their time together is confined to one or two days in a generic if upscale hotel room in Some City, USA. (A modern version of the classic 1975 Bernard Slade play Same Time Next Year only not so funny. Robert Mulligan's firm version came out in 1978.) Chris Messina and Marin Ireland star. The problem is the scenes are so short that the audience gets only little snippets about what’s going on in the characters’ lives. Had the characters been further formed this would have been a more satisfying film. And I’m not sure at all what the meaning of the last scene was....The next film I watched Saturday on Netflix was Roman Polanski’s The Tenant (1976). I saw the film when it first came out. This is classic Polanski (based on the Roland Topor novel who co-wrote the screenplay), filled with angst, paranoia, and confused identities and gender roles. Polanski himself plays the central character Trelkovsky (pictured), a mild mannered clerk who happens to rent the wrong Parisian apartment. A nice late Saturday night horror show if you ask me.

I put in a request to Cineplex to ask if Canada’s largest distributor will show those films nominated for Oscar best picture but that very few people have seen. I’m talking about Alejandro González Iñárritu’s Birdman, Richard Linklater’s Boyhood, and Damien Chazell’s Whiplash of course. This must be a dilemma for distributors since there’s very little market in cities like Windsor for these typically art house films. Yet they’re nominated for the world’s top movie awards and the great mass of people out there must be scratching their heads wondering what the hell they're all about.

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