San Diego Classic Film Calendar

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Near Perfect Weekend

Last weekend was pretty darn close to perfect. A little bit more running around than I like, but well worth the effort. The Ken Cinema was playing different a classic movie each day, starting Friday. I'm on track to see all but the last two. Friday night was Sunset Blvd., which I have never seen in the theater. It was way funnier than I expected. The narration and dialog is very biting. At its heart, the film is really a tragedy, so you kind of feel guilty laughing at it.


We had to move some furniture Saturday morning but it ended up being less of a pain than I expected. In the afternoon, I took my 14-year-old daughter to see Blade Runner, The Final Cut. This is one of those films that I watch once or twice a year, but my daughter had never seen it. I'm sure I've seen all of the various incarnations of the film through the years, but even having just seen the film and read the Wikipedia page, I would be hard-pressed to tell you the difference between the Final Cut and the 1990s Director's Cut.

I hadn't seen the film in the theater in a lot of years (possibly 10 or more, might have even been when they re-released as the Director's Cut). It was spectacular as I expected. I actually started to tear up when Roy Batty died. I wasn't expecting that. Now, my daughter, she realizes that there are a lot of Science Fiction films she needs to see if only for upping her geek cred. I had asked if she had wanted to see any of the films I was seeing this weekend, and for that reason, she picked Blade Runner and bowed out on the others. She said she had too much homework that weekend to go any of the others. All of the dedication and desire to do well in school that was totally lost on our son showed up in her in spades. Good girl.

Her reaction to the film was, it was okay, which I can totally understand. Don't get me wrong, I love the film, but I really don't think there is much of the story. I'm not one of those who ascribe to there being a lot of deep symbolism in the film. I'll admit that there is symbolism, but I feel like it is just dumped into a box and poured all over the movie and not tied up in any meaningful way. What makes it great is that the visuals are so good. I love to watch and let it wash over me. And to this day, three decades after its release, it still holds up. I explained this to her, and I think she got it. I thought it was kind of cool that she had almost the same initial reaction to Blade Runner that I did. For those keeping track, her Tweetable review of Blade Runner was:

I've never felt so threatened by boiled eggs.

That night, my wife and I went to the Goth nightclub we go dancing at. That night, they had two rooms running, the front room with mostly newer Goth music, which my wife loves and is a bit hit or miss for me, and the back room with a mix of 80s New Wave-ish dance music and older Goth and Industrial, which I'm more into, well, that and heavy-ish women in corsets. As usual, we spent most of our time in opposite rooms, and occasionally going back and forth between the two.

It was a good night for both of us. The front room had a guest DJ, which is usually either good or horribly bad. That night, it was good. For me, if they play a lot of 80s music and don't screw it up in the remix, I'm happy. That night was mostly good for me as well. If I had a complaint, it would be that it seemed like every third song was, Depeche Mode, not that I have a big problem with that, but there are other bands of that ilk to choose from. The next day my wife told me that she was trying to dance with some guy, but every time she got a chance I showed up and scared him away. Should I be worried? No, not really.

I ended up sleeping in, which I never do. It was rainy, so that made sleeping in all the better. When I woke up, I got coffee and was surprised how crowded it was in the coffee shop. I'm always in two hours earlier. I had a late breakfast and caught about the last 10 minutes of The Maltese Falcon, teach me to sleep in. I read the paper, my Sunday ritual and ran a quick errand. At 12:30, we (my wife and I this time) went to see Once Upon a Time in the West. This is a movie that I have only seen the first time in the last couple of years and have only seen once or twice since. Of course, this was the first viewing in the theater, such a great movie.

We were going with our friend, Didi, who is one of my few close friends, who is an even bigger movie snob than I am. Over the previews, he whispered about how our daughter liked Blade Runner. I whispered back her thoughts. I think all four of us fall in the visually very cool movie, but kind of short on story camp for Blade Runner. As expected, Once Upon a Time in the West was great. The opening sequence is so cool. It's about 12-minutes long. Woody Strode, Jack Elam, and Al Mulock show up at a train station to wait for someone. There is probably three minutes worth of closeups of Jack Elam, as he wiggles and scrunches his face to get rid of a fly that he is too cool, too mean, or too tough to swat at with his hand. The sequence does virtually nothing to advance the story other than to build tension about who is going to be getting off the train. Most directors would get through it as quick as possible. Sergio Leone dwells on it, and his film is that much better because of it. 

It's also great to see Charles Bronson in a good role. Usually, he just shoots people. Technically, he does shoot a lot of people here, but at least, here he is doing so in a really good movie and gets to act as well. Henry Fonda is great as well. It's so weird seeing him be a vicious killer. I always think of Henry Fonda as the father we all wish we had. Here, he's more like the father Charles Manson wishes he had. Pretty awesome.

With the late breakfast and no time for lunch before the 12:30 movie, we were famished by the time it got out. Now, Didi is what we affectionately call, a food whore. It doesn't matter what part of town you are in, he knows of a reasonably priced place that is insanely good. We figured we could tap into that culinary database he keeps in his head. He suggested a Thai place about 10 blocks away. We got there, but it was closed. We continued on another 10 or 12 blocks and ended up at a little hole in the wall called, Swine and Soda. Various items with meatballs and frou frou sodas. I got a meatball sandwich, goat cheese potato puree, and a Strawberry Crush (not exactly frou frou, but they were out of the three or four things listed on their sign board, and I didn't want to spend 5 minutes ordering a soda). Oh my god, it was the best sandwich.

Finally, the weekend ended with the Fathom Events screening of The Wizard of Oz. To be perfectly honest, I wasn't that psyched, not because I don't like The Wizard of Oz or Fathom Events or anything, but I had seen it in the theater in August. I really didn't need to see it again that soon, but my friend, Ned wanted to go. I figured, what the heck. It was fun and spectacular as expected, but I do have to say, my favorite part was seeing my Twitter #TCMParty home girls, @CitizenScreen and @IrishJayhawk66 on the big screen in the TCM Classic Film Festival (TCMFF) promo that they ran before the file. You go, girls.

Post-script
I ended up seeing two more classic films at the Ken as well, It Happened One Night (Monday) and Yojimbo (Tuesday). If you're counting that makes six classic films in the theater in five days, not bad for a place like San Diego, not exactly the film Mecca of the universe. I like to think of that as training for TCMFF.

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