Monday, June 3, 2013

The Puzzle Within the Castro Theater's June Calendar

The June calendar is out and the puzzle wasn't too difficult.  There were only two days in June which the theater was closed which made it easier.

June 10 - I quickly recognized Alfred Hitchcock as the man in the photo.  I didn't recognize the woman
June 17 - I did not recognize the man or the woman in the photo.

After some perusal, I thought the woman looked similar in both photos. She appears to wear the same fur coat in both photos although I don't know if that is true.  She looks older in the second photo.  Guessing it was the same woman in both photos, I started to wonder if that was Hitchcock in the June 17 photo.  I correctly guessed that the woman was Hitchcock's wife, Alma.  I googled her to see what she looked like.  I mentally picture her as Helen Mirren since seeing Hitchcock.  This photo came up as a result of the Google search.  Larger and in higher definition, it definitely looks like Hitchcock in the June 17 photo.

So both photos are Alfred Hitchcock & Alma Reville.  It wasn't much of leap to think the clues pointed to the Hitchcock 9 series at the Castro which is presented by the San Francisco Silent Film Festival.  The Hitchcock 9 series will be held from June 14 to 16 at the Castro.

The same series will run from August 16 to 31 at the PFA.  Judith Rosenberg will be accompanying two of the films (Champagne and Easy Virtue) at the Castro series but will be accompanying all nine films at the PFA series.  That's something to consider if you want to see all nine films but don't want to spend all day at the Castro on June 16 and 16.

Castro Theater Calendar - June 2013

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Star Trek Inside Darkness

As usual, I'm behind in cataloging the films I've seen.  In May, I saw 44 films.  One of them was Star Trek Inside Darkness.

Star Trek Inside Darkness; directed by J.J. Abrams; (2013) - Official Website

I didn't list the stars of the film because it is an ensemble piece.  First among equals are Chris Pine as Kirk and Zachary Quinto as Spock.  The rest of the crew is Zoe Saldana as Uhura, John Cho as Sulu, Simon Pegg as Scotty, Karl Urban as McCoy and Anton Yelchin as Chekov.  Benedict Cumberbatch is the villain Khan.

When I wrote about the first Star Trek film in the reboot, I gave it a paragraph.  It's hard to believe that was four years ago.  My recollection is that I enjoyed that film although I was a little put off by the alternate timeline plot device.  Although not a Trekkie (or Trekker), I was a fan of the original series and Star Trek The Next Generation.  It seems as though they are messing with the natural order of things when they made this contrived alternate timeline.  However, contrivances are part of Star Trek so I just accepted it. As the title of the post reflects, Spock's character undergoes some major reworking in the reboot.  Star Trek Inside Darkness only continues that trend.

I didn't like Star Trek Inside Darkness.  They are getting a little too cute with the alternate timelines.  Inside Darkness essentially presages & parallels the events in The Wrath of Khan.  I don't want to recount the plot of either Inside Darkness or Wrath of Khan but will say that director J.J. Abrams is trying to have it both ways - an action movie for people unfamiliar with Star Trek canon and some clever plot devices for people familiar with the series & films.  I saw this film with a friend who describes herself as fan of Star Trek but missed many of the references.  For example, when Spock screams "Khan!" in Inside Darkness, he is essentially echoing Shatner's famous scene in Wrath of Khan.

Abrams must have a difficult time with Star Trek.  He wants to do something fresh but is bound by the fanboys' expectations.  Pegg & Urban are essentially mimicking Doohan & Kelley's Scotty & McCoy.  Sulu & Uhura (the two minorities) get remade as more self-assured characters.  Oddly, Chekov seems to have turned into a wunderkind geek.  Kirk seems true to his original character although younger & more brash.  However, Spock becomes something unrecognizable despite Quinto's resemblance to Nimoy and his skill in getting the voice inflections similar to Nimoy's portrayal.

Spock gets pretty damn emotional at times and the "bromance" between Kirk & Spock becomes ridiculous by the end.  The friendship between Spock & Kirk, as portrayed by Nimoy & Shatner, was the core of the series but Quinto's Spock's too frequent displays of human emotion lessen the humor and poignancy of the relationship in Inside Darkness.

Maybe I'm just a crabby, closeted Trekkie who doesn't like the liberties being taken by Abrams, et al. with this reboot.  I have to admit that when one character was revealed to be Carol Mosely, I immediately  recognized the character's name from Wrath of Khan even though I have not seen that film in many years.  However, that is the risk that the makers of the Star Trek took when they rebooted the series with original characters.  They wanted the built in familiarity and development of the characters and were willing to risk some fans' ire by revising certain aspects of the characters.

Getting back to why I didn't like the film, I thought too much emphasis was placed on action scenes & CGI and not enough on the characters.  That could be said of many films so perhaps Inside Darkness is no worse than any other big budget Hollywood action film.  We had originally planned to see Iron Man 3 but my friend was late so we went with Star Trek.  In hindsight, I wish we would have entered the Iron Man 3 screening late.