It’s an interesting weekend, and depending on where you are, you either have one option, a few options, or a whole bunch of options.
The big stuff first. “Fast and Furious” is opening, the fourth film in the unlikeliest franchise I’ve seen since Clint Eastwood made a second movie with the monkey. Our own Greg Ellwood confessed to me that he enjoyed this far more than he expected to when he saw it. I meant to make a press screening of it, but I just plain couldn’t schedule it. I’m thinking that if I’m going to pay for it, I’m going to go all out and pay for it at the Mann’s Chinese, where the D-Box seats were just put in.
Do you know what I’m talking about when I say D-Box?
Because I didn’t until tonight. And two things happened to convince me that I am absolutely going to the theater to do this at some point this weekend. First, when I went to the New Beverly to introduce “Joe Versus The Volcano” tonight for the second night of the AICN/HitFix Cinema Rehab double-feature, I talked to Greg and he mentioned it. He said there were motion-controlled seats installed at the Mann’s Chinese 6, synched to the movie. Okay. That sounds like a crazy gimmick, but fun. I’ll go do that, I’m thinking.
And then as I’m getting ready to put this column together tonight, I see on Twitter that three very funny guys are going to the Mann’s Chinese 6 midnight show and they’ve purchsed D-Box tickets and they’re planning to live-Tweet the entire experience. Scott Aukerman (“Mr. Show”) and two-thirds of Human Giant, Paul Scheer and Rob Huebel. I imagine that anyone in that theater who isn’t them is sort of hating life. Which makes me laugh harder. Evidently, you can adjust the intensity of the D-Box experience, like turning up the volume. That sounds so obnoxious if you’re not the person in the chair. I can’t help but read all their Tweets about how much fun they’re having and imaging them all whooping it up like Slim Pickens riding the bomb down.
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And their verdict on the movie, which they’ve been Tweeting about all week in anticipation? Rob Huebel summed it up at the end:
“The writer of that movie should kill himself. The inventor of DBOX vibrating seats is going to be President of the USA.”
Quote. Of. The. Year.
The movie is, of course, the return of the entire original cast. That’s the hook after the reinvention of “Tokyo Drift,” the last movie. What’s weird is that “Tokyo Drift,” the film that wasn’t about the same characters from the first two films, was directed by Justin Lin, and yet he’s back at the helm. Certainly a cool vote of confidence from the producers. Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Jordana Brewster, and Michelle Rodriguez all return, and then… ummm… stuff blows up and cars go fast and BOOM and ZOOM and I swear to god I’m seeing this at the Mann’s so I can try the D-Box seats. I’d go now if it was open.
I already posted my review of the lovely and low-key “Adventureland.” If it’s open near you, see it. Seriously. Jesse Eisenberg is shaping up to be one of the most interesting actors in his age range, and his choices have been pretty consistent so far. “Roger Dodger,” “The Squid and the Whale,” and now “Adventureland” all suggest to me that this kid’s in it for the long haul, and I think he brings a perceptive, open quality to the work he does.
Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck made a strong debut with “Half-Nelson” a few years back, and now they’ve returned with “Sugar,” the story of a Dominican baseball player who comes to the United States to play in the minor leagues. This is one that I regret not pre-screening, and I’m hoping to find time at the start of the week to sneak away and see it. The reviews have been uniformly strong, and their first film indicates a real desire to get past cliche to something honest and genuine in their work. I like their aesthetic, and I’m curious to see if they’re two for two now.
It’s interesting when a small film incites some huge passions. I’ve seen several people on my Twitter feed talking up “Gigantic” for the last few weeks, and even if they hadn’t been so enthusiastic, I would have at least been a bit interested. The film stars Paul Dano, Zooey Deschanel, and John Goodman, and it’s another quirky indie romantic comedy with Deschanel as the intriguing object of desire. And as much as I find her appealing, she’s in danger of burning out the audience’s interest in her if she just keeps playing the wide-eyed weird girl. Here’s the IMDb’s plot summary of the film: “Mattress salesman Brian Weathersby (Dano) finds his plan to adopt a Chinese baby augmented by the arrival of a young woman, Happy (Deschanel), who comes into his workplaces, falls asleep on one of the beds, and starts to affect his life upon waking up.” Oh, my. Over the last few days, the people who hated the film have become far more vocal than its few supporters, and that equally-passionate negative reaction has me convinced this is one I have to see because I’m always drawn to love-it-or-hate-it movies. It’s just two hours. Why shouldn’t I roll the dice?
I quite like “The Chorus,” the last film from writer/director Christophe Berratier. Now his latest release, “Paris 36,” is finally making its US debut. It’s the story of a group of people determined to stage a musical in a local theater to help save it and maybe revitalize their neighborhood. Set in the ’30s, it sounds like a warm-hearted look back at a time just before WWII, and considering I just caught up with Truffaut’s “The Last Metro” finally, this might make a great chaser, since it sounds thematically like it covers some of the same ground.
R.W. Goodwin’s “Alien Trespass” is a SF comedy that hinges on the notion that it was a real movie made in the ’50s and then “lost” for all these years. That’s not a new gimmick, and intentional camp can be painful. I haven’t seen this one yet, but consider me skeptical. I think it’s very hard to make a cheesy low-budget movie that you set out to intentionally make cheesy. The results are often painfully unfunny and broad, and I hope this one avoids the easy pitfalls of the sub-genre.
That’s it for this week. Interesting grab bag of titles. I think the big lesson is that every home needs to install D-Box seating right away. I can’t wait to see what “Mama Mia!” is like with D-Box turned on.
On The Shelf appears here every Friday. Except when it doesn’t.
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