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

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

84. RED

Los Gatos Cinema

Opening as The Strand in 1916, and becoming the Premiere in 1929, the Los Gatos received its namesake and marquee in 1941 (source: Theatres of San Jose, Gary Lee Parks, 2009).

The town of Los Gatos, incorporated in 1887, is bordered by Saratoga and Monte Sereno on the west, Campbell on the north, San Jose on the north and east, and the Santa Cruz Mountains to the south. The city was home to several other theaters during the silent era, but only the Los Gatos survived, now the town's lone theater. Los Gatos is also home to Netflix headquarters; with the recent closure of Blockbuster, Netflix is the reigning king of home video, and perhaps the biggest challenger to local theaters.

The Los Gatos theater was twinned across its midsection after the Loma Prieta earthquake in 1989, resulting in two stubby theaters. When I visited in 2010, the theater was operated by Camera Cinemas. Earlier this year, the theater closed and gutted; when it reopens (supposedly by end of 2013), its auditorium will have been restored to its single-screen greatness.

A well-lit, recessed entrance invites passersby to the magic within.

Ornamentation, not original to the theater, has been exposed and covered up at various points in the theater's nine decade history.

The front auditorium sat 328. Concrete floors and ugly, narrow seating too close to the screen made for an uncomfortable viewing experience.

The theater showed ~42 different titles in 2010, mostly wide releases, though with the odd limited engagement now and then.


Factoid: Walt Disney won 24 Oscars.

Arc Productions, responsible for 9 (good), Gnomeo & Juliet (bad), and Hoodwinked Too! Hood vs. Evil (terrible), bring us the animated short "Enter the Sandbox"about two toddlers in a park who transport themselves to a kung-fu sparring court to do battle over a plastic truck. Clever fun, and the rare pre-show entertainment that seems to be for the audience's enjoyment, instead of badgering us with advertising.


Burlesque (Trailer 1)

(Previously reviewed)

Due Date (Trailer 1)

(Previously reviewed)

Inside Job (Trailer 1)

From documentarian Charles Ferguson (No End in Sight) comes an unforgiving inspection of Wall Street following 2008’s financial collapse. Lots of 'for the people' interviewees accuse financial executives of not warning us, and even say they themselves had tried to warn us. Executives face tough comments from Ferguson ("You can’t be serious; if you would have looked, you would have found things") and legislators ("What do you think about selling securities that your own people think are crap?") Aerial shots of mansions drive home the thesis: corporate big wigs brought home astronomical paychecks while their customers lost their homes. Having seen roughly forty documentaries thus far, I'm tending to favor those with a less controversial subject, and whose editing is not so deliberately leading me toward a moral conclusion. 74 cuts.

Hereafter (Trailer 1)

(Previously reviewed)

Drive Angry (Trailer 1)

When Nicolas Cage’s daughter is killed by a cult, he breaks out of Hell (yes, The Hell) to rescue his baby granddaughter from their clutches. William Fichtner is Satan’s Lieutenant, out to return Cage to the land of never ending damnation (that’s like the President of the United States sending the Vice President to personally track down an inmate who hopped the fence somewhere in California). Amber Heard shows up two-thirds through the trailer to give Cage a lift when, apparently, he decides to Drive Less Lonely. This trailer is bad in so many ways. A beat-up thug says, “Hell’s gonna walk the Earth”, to which Cage replies, “Hell’s already walkin’ the Earth”, but not before the trailer editor splices in a scene of Cage killing that same thug in an explosion. (Snappy one-liners aren’t so snappy if the audience is already dead.) Rebuffing Fichtner's threat on behalf of Satan, Cage says, "What's he gonna do, not let me back in?" As if Hell had but one climate-controlled, one-size-fits-all punishment room. Cage drives and drives and shoots and shoots. Heard wears tight shorts. Fichtner, one of few actors who is great even when playing a slimeball, uses his supernatural powers to rival Cage’s body count. At any moment I expected Cage's head to burst into flame; I was so confused until I realized this wasn't a trailer for Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance. Cage made some good movies as recently as 2010, but it’s been downhill since, and with his casting in The Expendables 3, he seems to have thrown in the towel. 118 cuts.


How to endure the idleness of retirement after a career of killing people? (If this is your most pressing concern, please don't be my neighbor.) Frank Moses (Bruce Willis) wakes up at six o'clock every morning (without an alarm), does some pushups, washes his dishes after breakfast, then sits in his immaculate house waiting for the day to end. The highlight of his month is when his pension check arrives: he rips it up, an excuse to call Sarah (Mary-Louise Parker) in HR to complain that it hasn't arrived yet. They speak at length, and if she mentions a romance novel she's reading, he reads it too.

Frank's boredom is interrupted when a government-sanctioned hit squad comes knocking, looking to tidy up. They didn't get the memo that Frank is a ninja in his own house. Looking for an ally, Frank tracks down his old colleague Joe (Morgan Freeman), who asks if Frank ID'ed any of the assassins. Frank holds up a bag of fingers. Joe, who has been equally bored in a retirement home, is soon also targeted. As a matter of survival, and to unravel the conspiracy against them, Frank, Joe, and a semi-kidnapped Sarah reunite with the rest of their team, conspiracist Marvin (John Malkovich) and MI-6 operative Victoria (Helen Mirren). Marvin is a tinfoil hat kind of guy who lives in an underground bunker next to a decoy house. Whereas Marvin's marbles are mostly gone, Victoria has stayed sharp by picking up an odd job here and there; when first we meet her she's using acid to dispose of a body in a bathtub.

RED (Retired Extremely Dangerous) is the perfect action comedy. The fight scenes are intense and brutal (Willis sparring with antagonist Karl Urban is one of the best fist fights I've seen), and the team dynamics are consistently funny. Rebecca Pidgeon, Richard Dreyfus, Julian McMahon, and a romantic ex-KGB Brian Cox are all excellent in supporting roles. The movie's more sedate moments are still filled with explosions, setting the tempo for a final sequence so packed with action, it's as if Danny Ocean said to his team, "Instead of being clever, let's just storm the Bellagio with bazookas!"

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