Friends, I'm going to make this quick.
Butt-Numb-A-Thon is Harry Knowles' annual birthday celebration, where he and 220 of his closest friends (and me!) spend 24 or so hours watching movies. This was maybe my fifth or sixth BNAT, and it was the 13th anniversary of the event. This was the first year where I was wide awake for all 24 hours, largely thanks to the happy effects of the Five Hour Energy Drink - that shit works! I wasn't jittery or wired, just simply awake.
We saw four vintage films and eight new films this year. Some of the films I will be able to review in depth this week, some I must keep to just a paragraph. Let me walk you through all 12 films:
1) Hugo. A bold choice by Harry - I think this is the first time a movie in wide release has played BNAT (some limited release films - movies that are open in NY and LA - play every year). My second time through Scorsese's ode to film preservation helped with a lot of my pacing issues, and I think the script is tighter than ever.
2) A Voyage to the Moon. The original Melies film played next, with live organ accompaniment. It was lovely to watch, and I don't know why Paramount didn't just attach this short to prints of Hugo.
3) Just Imagine. Harry had a science fiction musical in mind, but when that didn't come through he Google searched the phrase and found this 1930 effort. One part Shape of Things To Come, ten parts cheap excuses to string songs and vaudeville routines together, this movie takes place in the far off 1980, and is terrible in a delightful way.
4) Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy. My second viewing of Tomas Alfredson's adaptation of John Le Carre's novel made me want to rip up my review. I enjoyed the film on initial viewing, but I didn't crack the surface, and so my review has nothing to say. This viewing opened up the movie much more, and gave me new insight into the film. If I have time I may revisit this review.
5) Sherlock Holmes: Game of Shadows. I liked the first film well enough, but this sequel takes everything that didn't work in the first movie and amplifies it to ten. There's no central mystery, there's no warmth between Holmes and Watson, it's often incredibly stupid and it's all style over substance. It's also telling a Sherlock Holmes story that feels weird as the second movie, and the first featuring Moriarty. A dud. I'll have a full review soon.
6) The Beast With Five Fingers. Peter Lorre stars in this exceptionally odd murder mystery/ghost story. When a one-haded pianist dies, his disembodied hand seems to stalk the survivors squabbling over his will. Atmospherically shot but, like many of the minor 1930s horror films, tonally odd and flatfooted at times.
7) The Adventures of Tintin. I had already seen this at AFI, and while i liked it, I needed a break and a walk, so I hit the bricks for the second hour. The crowd was eating it up, though.
8) Porco Rosso. I had never seen this particular Miyazaki film, so it was nice to catch it in a brand new print. Gentle and minor, this story of a Mediterranean air ace pig is filled with nice detail and sweetness.
9) Cabin in the Woods. If Cabin came out in 2011 it would make my top ten. I've seen it twice now and it is a brilliant film - the anti-Scream. It's a work of genre reconstruction; it's funny and smart and well-made and surprising and just the epitome of why we love genre filmmaking. The crowd went wild, and rightfully so. I can't wait to see Cabin AGAIN.
10) Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance. If Cabin reminded me why I love movies, this reminded me why it's okay that we all die someday. So we don't have to keep seeing movies like Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance. A failure on every level, this cheap, chintzy, boring and stupid movie doesn't even deliver the dumb fun you'd hope from a Neveldine/Taylor movie. A disaster. My full review is embargoed.
11) The Grey. A full review of this is coming, so I'll keep it brief - Joe Carnahan's survival movie, starring Liam Neeson vs wolves, is a very solid entry in the genre. It floored some of the other BNATers but I found it good without being amazing. It occasionally dips into sentiment in ways I don't like, and it never truly transcends the slasher flick nature of survival movies.
12) Mission: Impossible: Ghost Protocol. Another review to be filed soon. MI4 is the best since the first, and it's a quick, fun, funny adventure. Gone are the double crossings and backstabbings and in is a fairly straight ahead end of the world storyline. The IMAX presentation is glorious, and a zillion times better than 3D could ever be. Brad Bird's transition to live action is competently staged and shot, but not particularly distinguished. Still, it beats the TV movie look of MI3.