Butt-Numb-a-Thon 14

Having prefaced my rundown of BNAT 14 by talking about Raiders of the Lost Ark: The Adaptation and an important breakfast experience, it is time, finally, to write about the festival itself.

I’ve read a few comments by folks who didn’t attend complaining about the lineup.  I guess that is subjective.  For me, I described it as a prozac year.  There was not a single film that blew me away but I enjoyed everything.  The highs weren’t quite as high but the lows weren’t all that low.

Typically BNAT will feature a fairly even mix of new and classic films.  This year featured only four premieres, which is quite low.  I love classic film, though, and watching great old movies on the big screen is nothing to complain about.  It is something to celebrate.  We are all there because we are film fans and I would never complain about watching films from any era.  If you are the sort of person who would complain about that – Butt-Numb-a-Thon isn’t for you.

We had a lot of previews and trailers and I’m not going to write about them at all.  I loved seeing all of them but I’ve seen a lot of kick-ass trailers that didn’t translate into kick-ass films so I’m not going to write about them.  I’ll stick to the full length films that we saw.  Eleven in all. Well….more like ten and 97/100ths.

Teen Wolf

Harry has been torturing a friend with portions of this film for years.  This included frames of the film cut into trailer reels one year and an actor dressed up as the title character another.  It has been one hell of a running gag.  This year, we finally saw the whole movie.  

Well, the whole movie minus the last two minutes.  That’s right.  We got right to the point where the film was reaching it’s climax and it cut out.  You have to admire someone who will take a joke that far.

The movie itself is OK.  There are far worse 80’s high school comedies that weren’t made by John Hughes. Coach Finstock is by far the best part of the film.  He’s the kind of character that makes the movie a little better when he’s on-screen.

Fact is, we’ve been tortured by pieces of this film for so many years, I’ve been wanting to watch it all the way through.  Well now I have.  I mean except for the last two minutes.

I’ll survive.

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

A lot of the conversation around the movie centered on what we thought of the 48 fps format.  That, in a nutshell, was the biggest problem with the format for me.  I was thinking so much about whether or not it worked that I was having a hard time paying attention to the film.

Maybe if I’d liked the format, I wouldn’t have had that problem.  I felt like I could see the artificial lighting.  Several effects shots looked horrible.  Was that a problem with the filmmaking or the format?

After watching the film in 24 fps, I think the problem was the format.  The effects shots that looked bad in 48 fps didn’t look great in 24 fps, but they didn’t look at glaringly awful.  The lighting looked more natural.  I was not distracted by the format.

I may find I like 48 fps once filmmakers learn how to light it and create special effects and make-up for it.  Peter Jackson decided to play with the technology early and I applaud him for giving it a try.  I’m sure that his experiment will be a great educational experience for many other filmmakers.

Afer re-watching the film, I think that this movie feels more like a part one than The Fellowship of the Ring.  By that I mean there are scenes that have no payoff in this film and seem to slow the film down.  The white council is a prime example.

But here’s the thing, this isn’t one three hour movie.  It is one nine hour movie.  The white council happens where it takes place chronologically but the payoff may not come until the second or third film.  I’m OK with that.  I think when we look back at the completed journey, some scenes that seem out of place now will make far more sense.

And yes, Peter Jackson was at the screening and did a brief Q & A afterwards.  He promised us an extended edition on DVD and because I love Jackson’s vision of Middle Earth, I can’t wait.  It isn’t about storytelling at that point.  It is just about wanting more of the world he has created.

The Broadway Melody of 1940

I love musicals from this era.  They are filled with dance set pieces that make absolutely no sense in the context of the “story” but they are glorious.  They live outside the film proper and reside in a place that is just a little big magical. Fred Astaire and Elenore Powell are enough of a reason to watch anything that involves dancing so who cares if the dances make no sense?  I always wonder why they start the dance number with a song.  Isn’t that just wasting valuable dancing time?

A lot of folks said this was their favorite film of the festival.  I’d rank it second but not by a hell of a lot.  For me, William Powell trumps Fred Astaire.  Sorry, Fred.

The Gang’s All Here

Oh Busby Berkely!  I don’t know what kind of drugs you were taking but we’re all so glad you never stopped!

The end of the movie fisted us with some serious polka-dotted shit.  I’m not kidding about this.  The closing number of the film was about polka dots. It was as if it had been determined that every other topic for a song had been used up and someone shouted “how about polka dots?”

Everyone else said “are you shitting me?”

“Nope,” they said.

“Let’s do it!” they cried.

Then they all did another line.

Any closing musical number that makes Carmen Miranda look relatively mundane is one hell of a musical number.

Mama

While I’ve never been a huge horror fan, I like good movies of any stripe and Mama is a good movie.

In fact, it will creep the fuck out of you.

Weird aside, I enjoy movies like this in the moment but they don’t have a lasting effect on me.  I think it’s because I don’t believe in ghosts.  I can immerse myself in the story but I don’t have nightmares or freak out at random bumps in my house because I know they aren’t caused by a jealous ghost.

In the case of my house, it’s probably just cats.  They might be jealous.  I can’t be sure.

Anyway, I liked the supernatural element of this film because the creature is not simply a malevolent force.  In fact, I don’t think Mama is evil at all.  She’s a real character with complicated motives that we have to figure out.  She is a threat but she is a sympathetic threat.

That makes her so much more interesting.

Libeled Lady

My favorite movie of the festival and I think it is just because everything is better with William Powell.  If William Powell had been alive when they made Transformers 2: Revenge of the Fallen, it would have been the greatest giant robot film in the history of cinema.  That is the kind of awesome that Powell rubs all over the screen whenever he is there.

Spencer Tracy, Myrna Loy and Gene Harlow are fine actors and they also appear in the film.

But that William Powell.  I have a powerful man-crush on William Powell.

If you don’t have a powerful man-crush on William Powell, I can only conclude it is because you are a woman.

Brain Damage

This super-secret premiere is exactly the kind of film that should be watched in a room filled with your closest friends.  Especially if you show it at about 2:00 in the morning after watching a couple other movies.

I’d also recommend doing some drinking.

But nothing alcoholic because you need to be as clear headed as possible to watch this film.  You must allow you brain to take in the whole experience completely unencumbered by anything.  You’ll thank me for this advice later.

Nightmare Alley

Tyrone Power was our protagonist in this film about a man who had it all and then lost it.  Sort of like Donald Trump would be if he ever lost everything he owned.

I know – a guy can dream, can’t he?

I have a few friends who are very interested in mentalism gags and this movie was fascinating as it got into the “flying too close to the sun” portion of the film.  People are so easily fooled by tricks and so ready to believe anything.  In that, the film is remarkably timeless.

White Heat

I’ve seen White Heat before and that probably explains why the grind of BNAT was getting to me by then.  I made a valiant effort to stay awake but it didn’t work out.

I try like hell to stay awake for all 24 hours of Butt-Numb-a-Thon.  To this date, it has never quite worked out. Eventually I hit a wall and I need to doze for an hour or so.  White Heat was where I hit the wall.  At least I was napping through a movie I’d already seen.

My apologies to the spirit of James Cagney.

Rollerball

I’m not going to try to explain how it happened, but I had never seen Rollerball.

Any time you can watch a geek classic in a movie theatre is a good time.  If it is your first time seeing the film, that makes it even better.

Watching Rollerball, I thought about the fact that we still have this quaint notion that one charismatic personality can spark a revolution. The world of the film will, most likely, not change a bit because of a victory in a sports arena.  We want to believe it can, though.  We want to believe that the right guy can fix the system for all of us.

Not trying to take anything away from Rollerball.  My apologizes to the spirit of James Caan.

What?  Oh….never mind.

Bullet to the Head

Harry picked the perfect film to close out the festival.  After you’ve been awake for over 24 straight hours, a good shot of adrenaline is just the think to keep you going.

This Stallone vehicle is not going to win any awards.  But for anyone who likes a decent revenge film in the style of Payback, I think this movie is going to press all the right buttons.  Outside of Stallone, most of the other characters in the film are disposable and uninteresting.

Honestly, though.  Who is going to this film to watch anyone but Stallone?

The parents of the other actors in the film are all going to the film to watch Stallone. Everyone is going to this film to watch Stallone.

If you like Stallone, I would think you’ll have a ball.  If you are a big Christian Slater fan, this probably isn’t your film.

So that was BNAT 14.  As always, it is not just the movies but the people and the place that make the experience worthwhile.  I already knew I was going to see The Hobbit.  Seeing it in a room filled with film fans who cheer at the end of battle scenes will always be better.

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About Petsnakereggie

Geek, movie buff, dad, musician, comedian, atheist, liberal and writer. I also really like Taco flavored Doritos.

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