In 2010 I saw 100 different movies in 100 different theaters. Here are the details.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

72. The Kids Are All Right

Camera 7 Pruneyard

Built in the 1970s as a 3-screen theater, but renovated and expanded in 2002, the Camera 7 Pruneyard anchors Campbell's thriving Pruneyard Shopping Center. The shopping center features several restaurants with outdoor patios, and even on a Tuesday evening, each of these patios was packed. A roundabout in the middle of the parking lot doubles as a small park.

Campbell, population 39,349, has been home to five theaters. The Orchard City Theater (later the Campbell Theatre and Gaslighter Theatre) opened in downtown Campbell in 1920 with silent fare, and closed in 1966 (it would later reopen for live performances, lasting until 2005). On the western end of town, the Campbell Twin Cinemas operated from 1970 until the end of that decade. A Drive-In theater was in operation as early as 1963 and as late 1984. (Source: Cinema Treasures, Jack Tillmany's Theaters of San Jose.) Today, the small city supports both the Camera 7 in the north, and the 5-screen Cinelux Plaza Theater in the south.

The theater's lobby is conjoined with an adjacent pizza parlor, making the Camera 7 one of the few theaters I've visited that serves actual food (though I don't think we're allowed to bring the pizza in with us). The lobby also contains a D-Box demonstration (my review here). Upstairs, the restrooms have a classic, tiled decor.

The theater advertises both its own upcoming movies, and the showtimes for the other three Camera theaters in the area. Matinee prices last until 6:00. 10-ticket bundles are available for $60. In a long angled hallway, tables of freebies include postcards advertising Get Low and Alamar; the Camera Cinema Club membership forms; Camera Cinemas Legacy Series (next up: Harold & Maude), Camera Cinema News playbill; Maya Indie Film Series; and a Cine Source tabloid.

The Camera 7 seats a total of 1019, with its largest auditorium seating 282. Of the 124 Bay Area theaters I tracked in 2010, the Camera 7 ranks 49th with its ~132 distinct movies shown. Considering only theaters with 7 screens or fewer, it ranks 9th. Multi-colored fabric decorates the walls. The seats and cushy and bouncy, but although they were comfortable at first, by the end my back was really hurting.


Music played softly in the auditorium, and the onscreen slideshow displayed the CD cover for the current track. Trivia mentioned that the Hollywood sign used to read Hollywoodland. Another factoid seemed to suggest that at one time, the term "movie" referred to actors.

Kyle T. Bell's animated short, The Mouse That Soared (trailer), chronicles how a hairless baby mouse, parents killed by rat poison, is taken in by pigeons (?) and taught to fly like the rest of the family. Very touching and entertaining.



I had to look up whether this was a work of fiction or a documentary (it's the latter), because the patient, day-in-the-life examination of a father and son fishing team doesn't seem to follow a particular narrative. Though I would be turned off by the killing of sea life, the land- and seascapes are beautiful and mesmerizing. Feature filmmakers could take some notes from this documentarian's eye for framing a shot, and ear for capturing natural sounds. The film isn't in a hurry, yet there is some sort of dread hanging over it, reinforced in the end by the boy nonchalantly drinking from a cup on his seaside porch while just feet below, an alligator waits in the water. 37 cuts.

Life During Wartime

Ensemble cast makes do in Florida during the 1950s or 1960s (I'm not keen on recognizing styles). Starts out strong with amusing exchanges between Charlotte Rampling and Ciarán Hinds; Paul Reubens and Shirley Henderson; and Allison Janney and her daughter. As the trailer progresses, what at first seemed light and whimsical becomes meloncholy and reflective, with a repeated theme of painfully remembering the past, or simply forgetting it. 71 cuts.

Adjustment Bureau

(Previously reviewed)
I get chills every time Terrence Stamp says, "Just remember: we tried to reason with you." What an ominous warning.

Get Low

A cranky hermit (Robert Duvall) stages a funeral party in advance of his own death, where members of the community are invited to come share stories about him, and to hear his own account of his life. Sissy Spacek, Bill Murray, and Lucas Black co-star. We aren't given many hints about what stories there are to tell about him, other than a glimpse of a burning house at the beginning, and the suggestion that Duvall and Spacek once had a romance. Duvall is a misanthrope whom nobody likes, and the movie will need to walk a fine line if we aren't to feel the same way. 94 cuts.

Eat Pray Love (Trailer 2)

(Previously reviewed)

It's Kind of a Funny Story

Awkward teen Keir Gilchrist is committed to the adult psychiatric ward (the teen ward is undergoing renovations) where he is befriended by Zach Galifianakis, and develops a crush on fellow teen patient Emma Roberts. Great supporting cast in Lauren Graham, Jim Gaffigan, Aasif Mandvi, Zoë Kravitz, Jeremy Davies, and Viola Davis. Gilchrist's unassuming, robotic naivety is endearing, and Galifianakis is in his element, posing as a doctor at times, and dishing out sage advice while being a bit of a wreck himself. The biggest turn off is stoic Roberts; when I see her advertised in a movie, I think back to Mean Girls, in which Rachel McAdams admonishes Lacey Chabert for trying too hard to coin a phrase: "Stop trying to make 'fetch' happen." I'm sure there is an inexhaustible supply of talented young actors; do we really need to see Emma Roberts in so many of these roles? 114 cuts.

The Kids Are All Right

Jules and Nic (Julianne Moore and Annette Bening) are a comfortably married couple with two teenaged children, Joni and Laser (Mia Wasikowska and Josh Hutcherson). Each of the children is the biological child of one of the mothers, and of the same anonymous sperm donor father. When the kids set out to identify and meet their biological father, the film's plot is set in motion.

The trail leads them to Paul (Mark Ruffalo), an easygoing ladies man who runs a cafe/bar/restaurant, but otherwise seems to have few priorities or attachments. The kids introduce themselves; Paul is appropriately astounded; and soon he's invited over for dinner to meet "moms".

Paul, unintentionally but also irresponsibly, exposes fissures in the family's stability. He's all too happy to dish out fatherish advice to the teens, solicited or not. He takes too keen an interest in Jules for anybody's good. And Nic, before even having met him, sees him as a threat to her life, which she has micro-managed into perfection. (Later she tells him to go "make your own family".) He is naive to think he can glide into their lives without consequence. Though their family dynamic needed some catalyst to change, Paul's introduction is too abrupt and his gravity too inescapable.

What follows is a very human drama (that poster is a lie), with each character forced to make choices where before there were none to make. Jules is captivating, constantly wiggling, trying to breathe beneath Nic's suffocating attentiveness. In Paul she finds a careless flirtation that lacks all the safety and structure Nic has proscribed for their life together. The kids, though they initiated the contact with Paul, are nonetheless reserved and pragmatic as they get to know him. He has many charming surface qualities, but as they spend more time together, the kids find less and less to be impressed by. Nic's is the most difficult journey, in that the others' attraction to Paul reveals shortcomings with how she's been managing the family's tone. Paul's intrusion is an opportunity for Nic to strengthen her ties with her family, but he's perhaps also too much a threat for Nic to have the luxury of reflection.

Spoilers to follow.

This film bothers me. Though the movie focuses more on Jules and Paul than on Nic, it is Nic whose character has the most opportunity for growth, and is therefore the most interesting. Her challenge, among her many flaws, is to recognize how her attentiveness is alienating the other three. Paul’s intrusion into her perfect life ruffles her feathers; she is confused and jealous when she sees the others becoming fond of him. Her journey could have been exquisite to watch.

But then the film decides to entice Paul and Jules into an affair. This is entirely consistent with Paul's character, who seems incapable of peering into the future to see how ugly it could be to insert oneself into a stable family. I can also see how Jules could be tempted. But now Nic has a lazy out: now it’s perfectly okay to hate Paul, because he is directly attacking her marriage. Nic no longer needs to grow; instead, it is the other three who must repent from liking Paul and his lechery. The affair retards the growth they were getting as a result of his presence.

When the family finally unites to distance themselves from his influence, it is surprisingly Paul who is suddenly given an opportunity to grow. He so smoothly and incautiously insinuated himself into their lives, he didn't prepare himself for the emotional pain of being isolated, when suddenly noone wants anything to do with him The other four, with the immediate threat extinguished, can resume life per the status quo (that's an oversimplification, but one the movie leaves us with); but Paul will be writhing as the abandoned lover.

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