Friday, January 4, 2008

Never mind the sore bum: Best Moviegoing Experiences of 2007

Oops, sorry I know this was supposed to go up last night but the siren song of an all night Rock Band party proved to be irresistible. Oh well without further ado here are my Top Five movie-going experiences of 2007. Just to clarify, these aren't necessarily my top five films of 2007 (though three of them will show up on my list), rather this is a look at the film-going memories that will rank as some of my favorites when I look back at the actual experience of sitting in a theatre and enjoying the show.

5. Preview screening for Spider-Man 3 at AMC 25
Yeah that's right, Spider-Man 3, the internet and lay persons filmic whipping boy. Spidey and Sam Raimi were so good to you for two amazing films that you couldn't cut them a little slack for taking an indulgence here or there could you America? Oh no, it was "too much dancing this" and "bad acting" that. But I am more then willing to forgive the film its trespasses and enjoy it for what it is: a remarkable spectacle meant to be enjoyed by a large number of people. I am sorry but this film GETS Peter Parker and and it GETS Spider-Man. The action sequences are still remarkable and the application of weight and movement to decidedly inhuman ability is really exhilarating. The crowd totally got behind Jonah's pill regimen, Topher Grace in general, the very relaxed James Franco, Gwen Stacey's rescue from the crumbling building, the Sandman and Spidey fight in the armored car and damn if I didn't get a little bit teary as Spidey swung down high-fiving the fans in his celebration as the marching band played the 60's TV theme. That's everything I need from Spidey film right there and you'd never think anyone thought one bad thing about the film based on that initial outing.
4. AMC Loews Lincoln Square 13 Enchanted
I came into the theatre with moderate expectations and fell madly in love. People applauded every musical number AND the opening animated sequence (which, have I mentioned this yet, is gorgeous). Plus cameo in-theatre appearances by Bernadette Peters and Joel Grey (though I was the only one who noticed). When you pay ten bucks and get back a hundred bucks worth of memories (and a film mascot for the blog) THAT is a GOOD experience.

3. AMC Loews IMAX Lincoln Square 13 Beowulf in 3D
Despite the tenor of this article I must express that these experiences are the exception, not the rule. As technology improves and civility goes out the window during screenings for more tender fare like Atonement and Juno (seriously why wouldn't that woman SHUT UP?!) it becomes harder and harder to justify not staying in and let netflix do all the heavy lifting. But once in a while you get an experience that just isn't possible for home. Beowulf more then any movie on this list (with the exception of Grindhouse) just could not work as well at home. Seeing the genuinely epic (but decidedly witty) film unfold on a mammoth screen with its staggering depth of field and mammoth scope was exhilarating. My breath was literally taken away from me several times and made me wish I was younger so I could go imaginary play Beowulf with my friends when I left the theatre (didn't stop me from yelling "I am Bewowulf" a bunch of times that night though-thank YOU Captain Morgan). Now THAT is impressive.

2. Union Square Midnight opening of Grindhouse
I can't imagine a better way to see this movie. In a packed theatre (and judging from the b.o. receipts maybe the only packed theatre in the entirety of Grindhouse screenings) full of film nerds. Also taking into account that for a good rowdy audience you can't beat Union Square (we threw plastic snakes at the Snakes on a Plane screening for goodness sake), it was the perfect environment for the bladder testing film. When a crowd claps for Michael Beihn's credit, you know you're in the right theatre. I also loved the gasps and "oh shit" exclamations during the chase in Deathproof. Lots of laughs and clapping and hooting and hollering. I couldn't BELIEVE that no one else would want to subject themselves to this kind of fun. The entire theatre was transported to another time and place and I liked it there.
1. Lincoln Center Hot Fuzz Preview Screening-Part of the Hot Fuzztival
As though there could ever be any doubt. This spectacular birthday present courtesy of my friend Frank found us and several other lucky souls at ground zero for awesome. The evening started off with the sensational (but surprisingly short) Edgar Wright introducing one of the many films that influenced Hot Fuzz, Electra Glide in Blue, easily the most bizarre and counter-culture cop film I've ever seen. The out came Edgar again with co-writer and star Simon Pegg (dazzlingly handsome in person) and co-star Nick Frost. The crowd of Spaced and Shaun of the Dead fans were salivating and nothing could prepare us for what came next. Through bales of laughter and applause unspooled, simply put, one of the best comedies of 2007. To be fair it's probably one of the best action films of 2007 too (and it features one of the best ensembles, but I'll save all this for when I rank it for the year). Then the spokesman for Lincoln Center came on to inform us that he would not be running the Q&A and instead he would pass hosting duties over to a huge fan of the Wright boys. At this point I turned to look back at entry wing of the theatre and the hairs on the back of my neck stood up. I shook my seat companion and whispered "Frank, LOOK" and sure enough, there was Kevin Smith. When he was announced the already ecstatic crowd completely lost it. From there on it just did not stop: the announcement that Paul Freeman (BELLOQ!) was in the audience (a mere two rows behind me), this was huge as Raiders of the Lost Ark easily my favorite movie of all time, the hilarious Q&A that was easily as funny as the movie, meeting CHUD writer Devin Faraci (one of my favorite writers on the web-yes even though he doesn't like the end of Batman Begins), shaking hands with Nick Frost while he took in a smoke. It was the type of thing you never forget and eternally bonds you to a film. Good stuff.

I'll be back later with my honorable mentions and worst of the year entries (links later tonight too you lucky blog reader).

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I didn't get a chance to see Beowulf in 3-D. I did see it in 2-D at the theater, though, and I really liked it a lot. I don't know why it didn't get better reviews. It seemed like people were way too hung up on the animation not being absolutely perfect. Definitely one of the overlooked gems of the year.