Movie Title: Game Night
First Watch / Repeat Viewing
Running Time: 1 hr. and 40 min.
Who did I watch with?: Stephie (Literally. We had the theater to ourselves.)
Where did I watch it?: Regal Stadium 12 – Swansea, MA
Game Night stars Jason Bateman and Rachel McAdams recognizing the time-honored tradition of game night. Every weekend Max (Bateman) and Annie (McAdams) host their friends to play different types of games. Max and Annie are hyper competitive and trying to start a family. They are struggling because Max has issues with his brother Brooks (Kyle Chandler) who has always been better at everything. He has a better job, makes more money, has a better sex life, and lives abroad. Yes, this really is a plot point. Then Brooks shows up out of the blue and continues upstaging his brother.
Brooks upstages his brother by setting up an elaborate game and showing up with Max’s dream car. Then things go sideways. Brooks gets kidnapped. Everyone thinks it is part of the game and treats it as such until they realize it isn’t. As it turns out Brooks is a smuggler and black marketeer. They then need to enlist the help of some acquaintances to try to save Max’s brother. The hijinks start off far too tame. One couple has a fairly lame and predictable subplot where one of them slept with a celebrity and the other is trying to figure out who it is. The other pair is a mismatch between a mental midget and a superior intellect. Both are very predictable. The plot has its moments, but overall it felt very forced. Many of the best jokes were included in the trailer and there was very little to help boost the interest. It ends on a high note, but even at the relatively trim running time of 1 hr and 40 min. it felt too long.
Parts of the movie were funny, but for the most part there isn’t enough there to make it worth seeing. See it if you love Jason Bateman, but otherwise skip it.
Tomorrow’s Movie: Citizen Kane (1941)
Movie Title: Citizen Kane
First Watch / Repeat Viewing
Running Time: 1 hr. and 59 min.
Who did I watch with?: Flying Solo
Where did I watch it?: Home
Yes, this is my first time seeing Citizen Kane. Yes, I knew what “Rosebud” was headed into the movie. With that said, I found it to be an extremely well done, if not depressing, movie worthy of its reputation.
Citizen Kane is made great by several factors not the least of which is its title character. Orson Welles is a deeply depressing figure with a complex psychological profile. After his deathbed utterances a newspaperman sets out to interviews those who knew him to figure out what it meant. He interviews his former employees, friends, wives, and confidants. What we get is the profile of a disturbed man. Welles plays the part of Kane brilliantly. He is always looking for someone to love, but is domineering. He wants others to love him in return, but doesn’t know how to foster relationships. He takes solace in his money and develops an initial interest in the newspaper business followed by politics and then music. The interviews are well done and gives a solid portrait of the other characters as well. They also come across as significantly flawed individuals who loved Kane, but not enough to show it, and in some cases not until he is dead. The frame narrative and the looping in and out of interviews is an extremely effective way to show Kane across a long period of time.
The camerawork is incredibly inventive. There are incredibly impressive shots using models that were ahead of their time. The camera is always moving or angling at something in a particular way. Kane is often shot from a very low angle and it makes him look like a larger than life figure. At times it makes him look like the set is made of miniatures and he is a giant. The set designs are also used to help drive the story and pump up the camerawork. There are so many great examples. In one instance the camera opens on Kane’s second wife Susan Alexander Kane (Dorothy Comingore) performing at Kane’s newly constructed Chicago Opera House. The set is opulent and gorgeous. The performance is panned. The camera drags up to the rafters where we see two crew members hold their fingers to their nose. It is such a simple scene, but the camerawork paired with the set design make it a great scene. After retreating from public life Kane builds Xanadu. Xanadu is a massive complex and the shots within it are fantastic. In one particular shot Susan sits near a massive fireplace while looking across the room at Kane. He seems incredibly distant, but when shot from Kane’s point of view she seems much closer. These perspective shots are important to understanding Kane.
Citizen Kane deserves its classic status and if you haven’t seen it you should. See it.
Tomorrow’s Movie: In the House of Flies (2012)