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SF.41 Marathon reviews & wrap-up (Read 9399 times)
Feb 16th, 2016 at 12:26pm

L.A. Connection   Offline
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Travel day for me.

Just want to start the ball rolling.

Thanks to everyone who helped put on the show, and to all who attended and said hello.

YOUR REVIEW?
 
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Reply #1 - Feb 16th, 2016 at 1:21pm

blrNH   Offline
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We had a great time!  We were expecting to be disappointed with lineup, but many of the movies held up better than expectations.

Gremlins: Surprised that this was the warm up, but movie held up better than I remembered.  The sci fi references and the theater scene made it a great opening movie.

Starman also held up better than I was expecting.  We really enjoyed this one.

Himmelskibet was an interesting movie I had never heard of before.  I like showing these old, forgotten silent movies and the music was great at setting the mood.

Blade Runner is a classic that we had seen recently.  Definitely from the genre of movies where people run through the streets with a gun, shooting into the crowd and everyone just ignores them.  There's good police training.

High Treason was interesting if a bit heavy handed and too idealized.  It was a bit tough to get through especially after already seeing a movie from this era.

Ex Machina was very entertaining and thoughtful.  Nice, unexpected moments.  One of the highlights of the thon along with Starman.

The Man Who Fell to Earth: I was happy to see this added as a tribute to David Bowie, but in hind sight, the movie was in bad need of editing.  The first half was good, but they should have just picked an ending and stopped there.  The latter part of the movie seemed like random, unrelated scenes that made the movie stretch out too long.

Idiocracy is a movie I have been avoiding because it is obviously low-brow toilet humor, which isn't my thing.  I was surprised by how much I actually enjoyed this.  Yes, some of the toilet humor could have been edited and there issues with plausibility.  However, it's disturbing to see this playing out in real life and the value of the movie is in making us see this more clearly.

Pitch Black was just a good action movie with some good characters and great special effects.  It provided some needed energy boost in the middle of the night.

I was intending to sleep through Never Let Me Go so I could see Big Ass Spider before heading home, but I didn't find out about the movie switch until too late.  Given that I had already missed Big Ass Spider, I decided to just sleep a little more, then call it a thon and head home.  I just can't make the whole 24 hours.  I did hear a good review of BAS from my husband, so I will catch it on Netflix.

The stage microphone was not nearly loud enough and was very difficult to hear up in the balcony.  This has not been a problem in the past.  No one seemed to have missed the Alien Mating Cry contest.  The bag of goodies is always appreciated and the SF41 sunglasses were a nice bonus.  Thanks to the theater for opening early given the extreme cold that day.

It was great to see everyone and we will see you again next year at SF42!

 
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Reply #2 - Feb 16th, 2016 at 2:56pm

kirok   Offline
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i was struggling with this marathon in the beginning. there was a lackluster response to "the man who fell to earth" which left me a bit crestfallen. i was seriously thinking about napping through "never let me go" because it gave me the impression of not being very sic fi. i sat in on the opening scenes and i knew immediately that many in the audience cherished this movie so i sat and was not disappointed. the performances were stellar and the pacing of the revelations were inspired. so the movie which i was least looking forward to and would most likely have skipped turned out to be the big het of my marathon. i'm so glad i did not miss a minute of it. the same thing happened years ago when we showed "konga".
donavan's brain was great fun and i had never seen it before.
i wish also to express the gratification i felt when "the man who fell to earth" got the first ever half applause/half boo response from the audience. the movie pushed the envelope.
people. this is a great movie. david bowie can act. it all works for me. loved rip torn, candy clark and buck henry.
 

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Reply #3 - Feb 16th, 2016 at 6:35pm

da_Bunnyman   Offline
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A really great lineup and a really nice marathon. Only thing bad was the cold. Never seemed to get to a comfortable temperature but then i'm getting old. Sigh!

Gremlins- Great opener and really stands up well. Still pretty funny and surprisingly edgy in its tone.

Starman- Beautiful print and another film that stands up well today. Emotional without being sappy and Jeff Bridges did a phenomenal acting job never seeming to be comfortable in the body he inhabited.

Himmelskibet- Second time seeing this. The live music added a lot to it. Truly a film from a different world with the attitude not only of a different era but a different country from that era. Enjoyable for it's corniness and the space submarine Excelsior! Plus the villain named Dubius.

Blade Runner- The Final Cut- The original is a classic but this version is even better. Without Ford's bored narration the story carries itself and the ending does not seem so forced.

High Treason- Been trying to see this for years & years. Worth the wait as it's pretty outrageous. Edited with a chainsaw and making it's point with a sledgehammer. Sets that try to be Metropolis but instead look like a Lego Village playset. Really glad I saw this finally and the marathon crowd added a lot to the enjoyment.

Ex Machina- Very well done and after the last 3 films seemed so private & personal because of the small cast & sets.

The Man Who Fell To Earth- Has not aged well. Overlong and arty in a style that's really out of style. Bowie almost saves it looking like he really is a frail alien trying to save his world while Earth tries to make him lose his alien-ness.

Idiocracy- Glad to see this on the big screen finally. Very funny and kind of scary that a lot of the comedy action looks like they're present day YouTube videos.

Big Ass Spider- Fun in a direct to video way.

Never Let Me Go- Took a breakfast break on this one.

Donovan's Brain-Good if slightly goofy whenever the brain is shown breathing (and laughing I think.)

They Live- Classic, John Carpenter once again making a film a little ahead of it's time and suffering at the boxoffice because of it.

Invasion Of The Body Snatchers- The perfect film to show a bunch of sleep starved sci-fi fans. Stands up amazingly well even with the slapped on happy ending.
 

I can't complain but sometimes I still do. Life's been good to me so far.
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Reply #4 - Feb 20th, 2016 at 3:37pm

L.A. Connection   Offline
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Terrific marathon in my book! After last year's trying one because of the snow, it was a 'relief' to only have to deal with sub-zero temps. And, to make up for last year's slightly abbreviated event, we upped this one to 14 features, 2 shorts AND 25 hours! With the Pre-Show - TWENTY SIX!

In Memorium - Not having time for a Bruce Trailer Reel, it was nice to see some old clips and trailer excerpts here. Some of the inclusions and exclusions were baffling, but a welcome effort.

Bowie Space Oddity Tribute - One of the event's highlights. Very warm and affecting - and it came off MUCH better than our other Bowie tribute.  Shocked

Duck Dodgers - Instantly puts me into a Marathon time warp. What year is this??!

GREMLINS - Hadn't seen this one since it came out. It's still fun, if a bit slight. A lot of great sci-fi in jokes and it really did bookend nicely with a few nods to the closer - INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS. As Frank U mentioned on FB, Joe Dante's affection for the genre really elevates him above the mocking/hommages we usually see. Hard to believe this was considered a PG kiddie matinee with the gremlins in blenders and microwaves! PG-13 was soon to follow.

STARMAN - 3rd time seeing it (original release and at the 'thon 19 yrs ago!), but first in 70mm. Holds up remarkably well. Too bad Carpenter never really got the chance to do more character driven material. He really shows an affinity with actors here. Of course, it helps to have Jeff Bridges, Karen Allen and Charles Martin Smith to work with. The stunning deep reds in the finale is a great advertisement for the superiority of 70mm over Digital.

TRIP TO MARS - Jeff Rapsis is one of the 'thon's MVPs! Great live scoring. The movie itself is pretty darn interesting for an antique, with some genuinely cool moments. The religious overtones got a bit heavy-handed at times, but, this is a more than worthy discovery.

BLADE RUNNER - Of course, I've seen it many times, but, this was my first go around with the alleged 'Final Cut'. This and the 'Director's Cut' will always be lesser versions in my eyes because of Ridley Scott's hairbrained idea of turning Dekkard into a replicant. My preferred cut is the 'Workprint Version' where Dekkard's humanity is questioned, but, not unicornized.

HIGH TREASON - This falls more in the 'interesting' than 'good' or 'bad' category. Some decent sets and futuristic items in this British retort to METROPOLIS (and the woman leading the revolt in the factory is very reminiscent of Maria's rebellion). The 35mm print was decent, and is struck from the only known copy in existence.

EX MACHINA - On balance, I still see the same flaws and postives on my 2nd go around as my first: http://sf.theboard.net/cgi-bin/yabb2/YaBB.pl?num=1429040022 . As much as I admire most of the picture, I am still left wanting more on the philosophy end, and less on the plot machinations. I also noticed that the Turing Test question is pretty unresolved at the end (couldn't Ava's actions be construed as simply copying what she observes from her two male 'subjects'?). As Frank U and I discussed, EX MACHINA and MAD MAX FURY ROAD seem to be a tad overrated by folks who aren't dyed in the wool hardcore SF fans.  Still, one of 2015's best SF efforts.

MAN WHO FELL TO EARTH - Hadn't seen this one since I saw it in a college class (!) 35 years ago or so. I didn't have particularly fond memories of it, and, they have gotten even lowered on the 2nd. This is one arthouse movie that will drive away even many in that clique (like myself). Roeg's work defies categorization, and he's never truly been concerned about a taut story as he is with moments, feeling and emotions. When it works, it can be fantastic (WALKABOUT), but, when it doesn't - you get MAN WHO FELL TO EARTH. I had seen the 119 minute US Theatrical version previously. It has now been restored to 139 minutes - and, you feel the extra 1/3 of an hour! This is one case where the 'Director's Cut' lessens the film, rather than improve upon it. Too bad, since many were looking forward to this in light of Bowie's passing.

IDIOCRACY - I'm so glad I programmed this as a balm after FELL! It's fitfully hilarious. The satire is more than a bit scattershot, but some of those targets are rich. It loses a bit of momentum in the middle, and the stuff with the President falls kinda flat. Save for the one Fox News reference, it is baffling why the studio was so set against giving this film a shot in the marketplace. Nice 35mm print, too.

Bride of Finkelstein - Director Michael Schlesinger has been a good friend to the Marathon in securing us several film prints over the year. This is an affectionate, if only mildy memorable, tribute to old time buddy movie teams.

PITCH BLACK - Or, as David K. would say - 'Pitch Gray'. The DCP projection robs the movie of it's black level, but, that's hardly the biggest problem with it. I had heard some pretty good things about it going in, but, it's a mediocre typical creature feature in space epic. Decent CGI for a smallish movie, but little else. Vin Diesel has done much better work elsewhere. Here, he just does the muttering 'Lone Hero' thing in the most rudimentary manner possible. And, the quasi-surprising ending ends up being more capricious than meaningful - not to mention being undercut by one of Vin's insipid quips. The biggest disappointment of the night.

BIG ASS SPIDER - This was intended to screen after NEVER LET ME GO, nonetheless, this is better than average straight to video/streaming title. Goofy, silly and endearing. Like GRABBERS, PAUL and BLACK SHEEP - SPIDER seems to have been 'engineered' for our marathon audience!

At this point, the weight of 14 movies on the schedule dawned on me - 10 down, and still FOUR MORE TO GO!?? But, being the dutiful marathoid android that I am, no sleep was allowed, dammit!

NEVER LET ME GO - Ex Machina's Alex Garland's terrific screenplay adaptation, the superb cast (Carey Mulligan is one of the best actresses working), and Mark Romanek's sensitive direction make this one of the better films of recent years. An odd alternate future /repressive government /sci-fi medical hybrid that still works brilliantly. Dark and depressing - yet, somehow life-affirming.

DONOVAN'S BRAIN - More brains! Fun 50's B-Movie with a story that has been much copied, but the original still holds up. Decent acting and direction. The black and shadow level of this 35MM print shames that found in INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS DCP that followed.

THEY LIVE - Pretty subversive counterpart to IDIOCRACY. But, whereas, the Mike Judge film makes a mockery of the situation, Carpenter's picture takes a kick ass approach. It certainly doesn't all work, but the themes hold up very well. I'm philosophically opposed to most remakes, but, THEY LIVE's themes are still relevant, and a bigger budget and more talented leading man could make it worthwhile.  It was amusing to hear the reaction in the crowd to the 7 minute fight sequence - particularly those who either hadn't seen it (or forgot about it)! Solid 35MM Film print. R.I.P. Roddy Piper who I worked with on Hell Comes To Frogtown.

INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS - This 1956 version is still far superior to the 3 official remakes (plus several copies). Tight, well acted and staged and direct (despite some studio tampering). What I noticed this time was how well Director Don Siegel sets up the famous Cave Kissing Scene with several tightly shot passionate smooches between McCarthy & Wynter earlier in the picture - "I never knew the real meaning of fear until I kissed Becky", indeed! This one has passed DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL and FORBIDDEN PLANET to become my favorite 50s SF film.

Thanks again to everybody who helped put on the show from the big guy at the top, to Frank & Fran U, to the entire Somerville staff to the returning champ Major Tom. I'm glad I got a chance to chat with a good number of folks during those 26 hours. And, of course, a special tip of the hat to Steve, Lou and John who've been with me for the last 3 decades! And, to Rob & David A. - cheers!
« Last Edit: Feb 20th, 2016 at 7:17pm by L.A. Connection »  
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Reply #5 - Feb 21st, 2016 at 12:19am

kirok   Offline
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high treason was a snoozefest for me but am i remembering it correctly. did the female lead stop ww2 by threatening her boyfriend/general with a breakup?
 

PANTS UP. DON'T LOOT.
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Reply #6 - Mar 14th, 2016 at 10:43am

Lile   Offline
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My thoughts on the lineup. I really liked Ex Machina and Never Let Me Go, two movies that provoked a lot discussion in my group. Starman was great as was Blade Runner, really liked Blade Runner without the narration.
   Himmelskibet was interesting,  kind of cheesy but in a fun,1918 sort of way. Did not like High Treason, I felt like I was being hit over the head with the main theme.
Man Who Fell to Earth has not aged well for me. I remember liking it a lot more in my twenties but not so much now.
Gremlins was okay as was Idiocracy.
Hadn't seen They Live or Invasion of the Body Snatchers in a long time and enjoyed these old friends.
Liked Donovans Brain but I wish it hadn't played so close to Body Snatchers.
Big Ass Spider was a fun spoof of giant bug movies.
 
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Reply #7 - Mar 15th, 2016 at 10:43pm

Jay Seaver   Offline
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Lile wrote on Mar 14th, 2016 at 10:43am:
Big Ass Spider was a fun spoof of giant bug movies.

Nah, it was just a good giant bug movie.  This is actually the third event I've seen it at, and both of the other times director Mike Mendez took a few pains to mention that they were not trying to make a SyFy channel movie along the lines of Sharknado but classic monster movie that has the kind of quick wit that modern audiences expect.

It's a small thing, but I always feel that the warts-and-all "homages" from people who say they love the old stuff are kind of the worst way to celebrate them compared to guys like Mendez who try their best to make the movie that the others couldn't.
 
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Reply #8 - Jun 20th, 2016 at 11:15am

L.A. Connection   Offline
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Exactly, Jay!

A great 'spoof'/homage movie should always be it's own movie first, any spoofing should flow from that. It's why something like YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN or INAVASION (aka TOP OF THE FOOD CHAIN) works, but, the Larry Blamire school doesn't.

Jay Seaver wrote on Mar 15th, 2016 at 10:43pm:
Lile wrote on Mar 14th, 2016 at 10:43am:
Big Ass Spider was a fun spoof of giant bug movies.

Nah, it was just a good giant bug movie.  This is actually the third event I've seen it at, and both of the other times director Mike Mendez took a few pains to mention that they were not trying to make a SyFy channel movie along the lines of Sharknado but classic monster movie that has the kind of quick wit that modern audiences expect.

It's a small thing, but I always feel that the warts-and-all "homages" from people who say they love the old stuff are kind of the worst way to celebrate them compared to guys like Mendez who try their best to make the movie that the others couldn't.

« Last Edit: Jun 20th, 2016 at 2:12pm by L.A. Connection »  
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