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

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

73. The Other Guys

Century Capitol 16

Trying to catch up on my blog three years later, I'm finding that some of these theaters have actually shut their doors in the interim. In the case of southern San Jose's Century Capitol 16, I visited less than two months before its final showing in October, 2010 (it has since been demolished).

A comment on Cinema Treasures cites a zoning controversy that lead to this theater opening, in 1994, immediately adjacent to the 6-screen West Wind Capitol 6 Drive-In. I could watch the Drive-In's screens from the Century theater's parking lot.

I liked the lit trim on the ceiling. Made me think of Pac Man pellets. My journal doesn't indicate much else of interest about this theater, so I'll just note that I bought my ticket with a gift card from a baby shower party bag (thanks, Kim!). Obviously, a movie gift card is a perfect gift for me, and wouldn't necessarily be great for infrequent movie goers. But my own hobby aside, a movie gift card is a carte blanche Choose Your Own Adventure. Kim picked the medium, I picked the movie. If I were fabulously wealthy, I'd hand out movie gift cards to everyone.

Double-doors lead from the hallway directly into the auditoriums (all that was missing was a trophy case to simulate the entrance to a school gym), admitting some ambient sound and light. The theater's 16 screens ranged from 139 to 598 seats. With 4,094 seats in all, the theater ranked 4th among the 78 Bay Area theaters for which I obtained seating data. The seats themselves were old-style, short-backed chairs with fraying red fabric.

Not so impressively, it ranked 37th for unique movies shown during the year among Bay Area theaters with 16 or fewer screens. Its ~133 movies shown during the year was comparable to what the adjacent Drive-In showed with 10 fewer screens and only at night. A reminder that more screens means more frequent and convenient showtimes, not more variety in the movies themselves.


A massive pre-show filled with advertisements. Some, like for Def Jam Rapster or Madden NFL 11, are forgettable. A Jeep commercial worships Americans for being a people who "make things". An add for Dark Blue Season 2 ends with a money shot of the entire cast on a rooftop. I don't care how dumb a show is: pose its cast on a rooftop with a slow motion wide-angle, and the show will look awesome.

An ad for The Event has me intrigued, except that it's a television show, rather than a movie. Sure, most television dramas end up being about interpersonal relationships, regardless of genre, but I'm bothered by the shows that start out as plot-driven, single arc narratives, yet devolve into simple dramas. They promise some sweeping lore and world-building, and answers to big questions, but inevitably spend an entire episode focusing on one character being an alcoholic, even though the show is about everyone on earth losing eight minutes of memory (FlashForward); or an episode about a girl's father disapproving of her boyfriend, set against the much more interesting backdrop of a post-war Earth where aliens and humans band together to stave off an invading army (Defiance). These lore-to-bore shows are much worse than the simple four's-company premise of New Girl, which doesn't try to trick me.

Falling not far from the above tree, No Ordinary Family promises the same family drama I might get in any other show, except in this one the family members have super powers. Julie Benz gets to show off some awesome speed powers, seldom handed out to a female character (Heroes being another notable exception). The rest of the family gains powers that are both stereotypical for their gender (the man gets strength, the girl gets telepathy), and for requiring a tiny effects budget. (Like Wolverine's heightened sense of smell, telepathy requires zero dollars to film.) I'm waiting for the show that's a simple drama, where characters just happen to have super powers (a more extensive No Heroics), but this isn't it.

Trivia informs me that while researching Russian for his role in Iron Man 2, Mickey Rourke decided half his dialog should be in Russian. I don't speak any Russian and so can't attest to Rourke's competence, but I will say as an English speaker familiar with his acting that his delivery was believable. When a familiar actor speaks in an unfamiliar accent or language, I'm typically critical and disbelieving, being too accustomed to their typical affectation. In the case of Australian actors, I'm always surprised to learn that their 'usual' accent is not, in fact, their native accent. And in the case of Rourke, if I hadn't seen any previous movies, I would have thought he was cast directly out of some Siberian coal mine.

A trailer for the video game Metroid: Other M features a woman in a blue jump suit walking slowly through a time-paused battlefield of her own memories. I'm not drawn to video games in general, or action games like this in particular (I did play the original Metroid on Nintendo way back in the day), but when the woman narrates, "What's past is prologue", it's not only poetic and intriguing, but meaningful as well. We're always right in the middle of our own story. What was once a narrative climax becomes over time just more backstory, lending dramatic weight to the current moment.


Due Date

Red (Trailer 2)

(Previously reviewed)

Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps (Trailer 2)

(Previously reviewed)

Green Hornet

(Previously reviewed)

Jackass 3D

I can't quite calculate the depth of this franchise, but the trailer seems transparent in what this 3D outing contributes: sketch comedy mixed with pranks and endurance performance art. While mildly amusing to see people flung violently into the air, falling off trees, and getting slapped with giant-sized hands, nothing in the trailer makes me want to endure more than what I've already been shown. I'll stick to Johnny Knoxville's fictional roles. 31 cuts.

The Social Network

(Previously reviewed)

The Other Guys

If you had asked me twenty years ago, I might have said I enjoyed buddy cop movies. What’s not to like? All the intrigue and action of a cop movie, but tempered with the hilarious hijinks of two mismatched partners. Think City Heat, Running Scared, Dragnet, Armed and Dangerous, Loose Cannons, the later Beverly Hills Cop movies, and 48 Hrs. (to a degree). Not exactly a list of all-stars, but as a teenager I enjoyed these movies. For my adult tastes, however, the only buddy cop movie to have survived this era is the much more serious Lethal Weapon.

A buddy cop movie follows a very simple formula: pair up two cops on opposite ends of a personality spectrum, and force them to work together to bring down some big conspiracy. The conspiracy is key, because it allows the bad guy to commit lots of little crimes throughout the movie, much to the dismay of our bumbling detectives; but then just as the villain is about to pull off the big heist/score/deal/murder/McGuffin, our two cops finally gel as a team and bring the whole thing crashing down. It’s especially sweet when another pair of cops, who have dogged our heroes the entire movie, are humbled in the process.

Here are two rules to be weary of: if your cops get along at the beginning of the movie, then this is a serious movie, and one of them is about to die. (To make way for the mismatched partner.) And if the villain isn’t planning a big job, it’s probably not a buddy cop movie, but rather a suspense thriller, where each crime is just as vicious as the one before. But if one of the cops mistakes the other for a criminal when they first meet, or if one cop looks at the other like having someone to share your workload with is the worst thing that has ever happened to him, you are deep in buddy cop territory.

All this is prologue to say that buddy cop movies are mostly garbage. Just light fluff that is quickly forgotten. So what about The Other Guys? The movie opens showing us just how awesome the precinct's two top cops are, played by Samuel L. Jackson and Dwayne Johnson. The other guys, Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg, languish in their shadow. Ferrell, unliked by everyone except his gorgeous wife (Eva Mendes), is nonetheless very comfortable in his own skin and openly admires Jackson and Johnson. Wahlberg resents being in the their shadow, and is embarrassed at Ferrell's hero worship. He thinks he'll never prove his own worth while shackled to such a dud of a partner.

The two are assigned to a case that will strain their partnership, turn out to be bigger than anyone thought, get them thrown off the case, and ultimately inspire them to work together. I'm pretty sure that's how it goes down. As expected. Along the way, there are indeed some funny moments, not all of which are spoiled by the trailer. At several points Wahlberg invokes the peacock as his metaphor of freedom, perhaps unaware that although they do fly, they don't fly very far. With another animal metaphor, Wahlberg says he's a lion and Ferrell is a tuna; Ferrel inquires whether they're fighting on land or in the water, because in the water he'd actually prefer to be the tuna; Wahlberg is disgusted that Ferrell doesn't even know when he's being insulted.

Consistent with many of Ferrell's man-child roles, the movie is filled with inappropriate jokes about women. Considering Wahlberg's charm and list of film credits, I would have expected a less objectifying view of half the world's population. The only female role of substance belongs to Mendes, who walks on camera repeatedly for the sole purpose of inspiring Wahlberg to wonder how someone with her beauty ended up with a pencil-pusher like Ferrell. The joke wears thin after her first entrance.

The movie is typical and skippable, except for two parts. The first, when Wahlberg dances to win back his girlfriend. The second, when Ferrell and Wahlberg finally bond over drinks at a bar. This latter scene is presented in a photo-zoom technique (is there a name for this?), in which we linger on a still image of them in one position, then zoom past them and rotate to find them now in another position somewhere else in the bar, more drunk than before. The montage is set to the Black Eyed Peas' "Imma Be" and is outstanding. Luckily, now that the movie is well out of theaters, you can skip it and head straight for the montage.

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