I went to see a special showing of Tom Baker’s last story as the Doctor in the theater this week. It was lots of fun but at some point the realization hit me that I’d just spent about $40 (tickets plus drinks and popcorn for two of us) to watch an old television show that I already own on DVD. These are the times we are living in. It was totally worth it though, to see it on the big screen and be surrounded by fans.
I saw some other cool stuff to so let's talk about it.
After really loving The Favourite, I was really excited to see some of Yorgos Lanthimos’s other films. The Lobster is a movie I thought sounded interesting when it first came out but for one reason or another I never got around to seeing it. Now I really wish I’d seen it in the theater with a full audience.
It is, without a doubt, one of the strangest, darkly funny, and moving films I’ve seen in a long time. Set within an alternate, dystopian reality in which un-attachment is outlawed, The Lobster stars Collin Farrell as a recently divorced man who is sent to a posh hotel where he is given 45 days to find a date or he will be transformed into the animal of choice (his animal choice gives the movie its title). All of the guests are desperately trying to find a mate that share their own defining characteristic (one girl gets nosebleeds, another is sociopathic in her inability to care about anyone, etc). The hotel staff do things like dry hump the men into a lustful frenzy in order to encourage them in their mate-hunting, and punish masturbation (which would pacify desire) to the extreme.
Eventually, Farrell’s character escapes and finds a roving band of “loners” only to find that while they are given the freedom to masturbate and will not be turned into an animal at any point, they have rules that must be obeyed at all costs. It is a deeply black satire of our modern culture’s romantic landscape that kept me laughing and feeling very uncomfortable often in the same dramatic beats.
High Flying Bird
Steven Soderbergh dropped this on Netflix seemingly out of the air a few weeks ago. Without any promotion or any hints of its existence, it just appeared on the streaming service, ready to be watched. Which is such a Soderbergh kind of thing to do. Throughout his career, he has played with cinematic media, using different forms of film (he shot this one on an iPhone) and delivery services (he’s released previous films into theaters and VOD simultaneously). Also very much like Soderbergh, this is a basketball film with hardly an ounce of actual basketball in it.
It stars Andre Holland as a sports agent who, in the middle of an NBA lockout where the owners and players are in a dispute over money, stages a sort-of protest designed to give the predominantly black players a form of power over the exclusively white team owners. There is a lot going on in this movie and I’m not sure I understand exactly what all happened in the end, but it is superbly acted and shot with such confidence that I don’t really need the details.
Doctor Who: Logopolis
As mentioned, I saw this in theaters for a Fathom Event. It is timed just before the release of Tom Baker’s final season coming out on Blu-ray next week. It included some behind-the-scenes features, including a batch of audio commentary from several of the actors (we get to watch them sitting on a couch while they watch the story) and a nice piece where Janet Fielding and Sarah Sutton (who play companions Nyssa and Tegan, respectively) visit the Jodrell Bank Observatory, which is where the climactic scene of the story was set (though not shot due to a very limited budget).
The story itself is a classic. It introduces Tegan, and the Fifth Doctor while saying goodbye to the Fourth. He briefly teams up with the Master before being double crossed. It's funny and exciting and almost everything you want in a Tom Baker story. The ending is a bit rushed and due to budget constraints (they had spent all their money on previous episodes so this one looks especially shoddy), Baker doesn’t get the send off he deserves. He is basically killed by falling off a building, which is not exactly the most exciting ending for the Doctor. But all in all, it's a good bit of fun and it really was a joy to see it in the theater.
The Old Man and the Gun
Supposedly Robert Redford’s swan song, as he’s promised to never act again. This drama from David Lowery is based on the true story of Forrest Tucker, a man who spent his life robbing banks, going to prison for it, and then subsequently escaping prison only to repeat the cycle over and over again. Redford plays Tucker like a man who simply can’t help himself from robbing; it's the only thing he knows and enjoys. Sissy Spacek is the love interest and Casey Affleck is the cop who has to catch him. It's not a great film but it's pure joy watching Redford and Spacek act together.
The first Marvel Cinematic Universe film to feature a woman as the lead character faced a lot controversy and a ton of hype. The usual maroons gathered their pitchforks to protest…well, I’m not exactly sure what they were protesting. Women being heroes? Or not staying in the kitchen or something. Others were proclaiming Captain Marvel as the savior of all women. Or something. All of this was before anyone had seen anything other than a trailer.
I was excited about the film, and I bought tickets opening weekend for me, my wife, and young daughter. It is really cool to have women superheroes saving the universe all on their own. My daughter absolutely looks up to that. She looks up to a lot of other things too, but girls with super powers is pretty special.
The movie was, well it was ok. I’d put it in the second tier of Marvel films. Somewhere alongside Doctor Strange and the first Ant-Man. I loved the '90s time period, though I wish they’d used it more than just an excuse to make jokes about Blockbuster and increasing Clark Gregg’s hairline. Brie Larson was fantastic in the lead role. I could have gone without the confusing and lazy amnesia plotline full of flashbacks that were hard to make sense of, but it's hard to argue with a Marvel character with Superman-like powers as we transition into the next Avengers movie. So, yeah, I liked it. I’m anxious to see the sequel where she can move past her origin story and just be herself.
Hereditary was one of the creepiest, scariest horror films to come out in the last few years. Its director, Ari Aster, has a new film coming out this summer (or sommar I should say) and it's got a Wicker Man/Children of the Corn vibe to it with lots of creepy kids in cultish clothes. I know nothing about it other than what the trailer shows, but darn if it's not already high up on my "things to watch" list.