Saturday, December 27, 2014

Drafthouse does a bang-up job of showing "The Interview"


I went to see Sony’s “The Interview” at the Alamo Drafthouse in Ashburn, VA, in Loudoun County, on a mild December Saturday “in the country”.  In fact, when I bought the ticket online Friday night, I got the next-to-last seat, and was on the front row.  But in the Drafthouse, with the food service and wider rows, that’s OK.  For security, there was a uniformed officer from the Loudoun County Sheriff's Office in the lobby. At the Manassas 4 (in another exurban community thirty miles to the south) it didn’t seem you could buy tickets online at all.
  
And Google’s home page, for a while om Christmas Day, had read “Our goal is to make the world’s information accessible, yes, even Seth Rogen movies”, with a link to rent on Google Pay (or YouTube) for $5.99, here 

Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg direct the satire (really of the ‘Dr. Strangelove” genre) and Seth Rogen and James Franco play buddies (tabloid producer Aaron Rappaport and talk show host Dave Skylark) who set up “The Interview” with North Korean dictator Kim Jong-Un (Randall Park) – initiated by North Korea.  Now Franco (now 36) looks a little weathered but is by far the fitter of the tag team.  Rogen, well, is a bit like an aging bear, a little fattish, but not as foppish and smooth-skinned as the North Korean emir, who is worshipped as a sexless god by his people – he is said never to excrete and have no “holes”.  The Golden Calf made a better idol.  Kim's attempt at "radical hospitality" and acting like a good buddy collapses appropriately. 
    
The opening scene sets the tone of the film, with a Korean woman threatening the US.  Soon Skylark is interviewing Eminem, who says he utters homophobic slurs because he’s gay himself. Really?  Once Rappaport sets up the “interview” the CIA shows up (with the female agent Lacey played by Lizzy Caplan) with its plan to “take him out” with ricin conveyed in a palms-down handshake – the scene widely touted in trailers.
  
The film really does play up the national security dangers (to us) of a nuclear North Korea.  Remembe how George Tenet had warned around 2003 that the DPRK was capable of lobbing a missile as far as the US Pacific Northwest. And, for all the screwball slapstick comedy, Skylark gets the chance to humiliate Kim in debate – which may be the most humiliating aspect of the film for Kim in real life.  Indeed, the film proposes that his regime is overthrown after he goes.  What if the people in North Korea really do get copies of this movie?
  
I recall back in the 1990s (during the Clinton years) that a lot of the talk about the challenges face by the military centered around the idea of a second war in Korea, not so much on radical Islam.

Is seeing the film now a "patriotic act"?  Some people argue that watching plays into Kim's hand, of falling for a deep double-cross and giving him propaganda for his own people.  But I rather buy the idea that balloons laced with DVD's flying over the North could start something. 

  
Sony’s official site requires entry of a Tumblr password, which seems bizarre.  The Facebook site is here. The branding is still Columbia Pictures, although the distribution is more like what you would see as Sony Pictures Classics. 

Alamo played, as a preshow, a spoof of SNL, which seemed to be hosted by Wallace Shawn, with one skit showing a gay “bear” motorcycle couple preparing to marry in Utah, in Monument Valley.  A later spoof made fun of the acronym “GOP”. 
  
On Friday, Dec. 26 NBC Today had aired a cooking show segment from NE South Korea, from near the DMZ. 

A couple of other movies to compare this to, besides those already mentioned: The James Bond “Die Another Day” (2002), as well as “Red Dawn II” (cf blog Nov. 22, 2012). See an earlier posting that discussed the hacker threats against this movie and Sony's waffling at distribution on Dec. 18. 
    
Picture:  The Moon surface, on display board at One Loudoun in front of theater.  

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