The Late Shift: Bottle Rocket

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If you're reading this, chances are you already know that I have officially crapped out of my pledge to see every single midnight movie screened at the Belcourt this year. Sadly (not that sadly), a little thing called Bonnaroo called me into service for our sister blog at Nashville Cream and it turns out that seeing Glenn Danzig nearly fight one of our photographers — I'm so proud! — is more important than midnight movies. Also, I carpooled, so I couldn't flee toward Nashville to see a SWAT team turn an exploding refrigerator into a battering ram during The Raid: Redemption.

I know. I'm terrible. But hey, why don't we talk about how your ill-conceived New Year's resolutions are going? No? That's what I thought.

In any case, I'm back on the horse and ready for another six months of midnight movies. This weekend, I eased ever-so-gently back into the routine with Bottle Rocket, the surprisingly down-to-earth first film by Wes Anderson.

This will come as a shock to exactly nobody, but I love Wes Anderson. Love, love, love him. I'm not ashamed to admit that I once took a girl on a date to The Life Aquatic and wound up liking the movie more than the girl. (Even though the submarine scene with the Sigur Ròs song was pretty cheeseball.) I could watch The Royal Tenenbaums every day for the rest of my life, even though I've passed my twee phase by a long shot.

But here's the weird thing: Even though I'm a big fan, even though I've owned Bottle Rocket on DVD for years (years!), I've never actually sat down and watched the whole thing. I've got a bit of a problem with watching awkwardness unfold on screen. Which is to say, I claw at my skin and reach for the pause button on a habitual level. Left to my own devices, I can stretch a two-hour movie into a three-hour epic. My idea of hell is a supercut of every uncomfortable scene from both versions of The Office, beamed directly into my cerebral cortex like I'm a hooligan from A Clockwork Orange. It's kind of a problem.

Luckily, there is no pause button in a movie theater, because the whole sequence where Luke Wilson follows the maid around would've given me the shakes. Not that it wasn't great, I am just awful.

But enough about how mumblecore is my kryptonite. Saturday night brought a modest crowd of Rushmore extras to the theater for Bottle Rocket. In no way was I expecting the kind of audience Jurassic Park drew, but I was pleasantly surprised by the amount of people willing to turn out to see a relatively quiet comic drama — about half of whom hadn't seen the film before. It makes me very curious about how the Moonrise Kingdom midnight premiere — the first of its kind at The Belcourt — will fare.

A couple of weeks ago, as I was working my way through the remaining Ghibli films, Pat chided me for missing The Raid and offered to have the stuff ready for that night's drink if I wanted it. I passed, somewhat noncommittally, which I felt good about as soon as I saw that “Future Man,” the beverage named for Andrew Wilson's character, involved my old foe tequila. The drink, which was apparently discovered hidden in a book or something, included muddled poblano pepper, agave syrup, Angostura orange bitters, Bitter End Memphis BBQ bitters and tequila, garnished with a grapefruit peal. It was like drinking Texas. I was pretty into it, even though some people seemed scared off by the pepper.

And the movie itself? Bottle Rocket is entertaining and charming, but not quite what I think of when I consider midnight movies. Showing it at midnight doesn't really impart anything, but it does have a strangely dreamy quality to it (which I think helps any movie shown at this hour). It's also well paced and cleverly shot, which sure doesn't hurt either. It's easily my least favorite of Anderson's films — but that's to be expected. It's not quite fully realized, but the elements of what I appreciate about his movies are there.

Overall, not a particularly great midnight movie, but still a good one. I'm glad I finally saw it all the way through, and the only way I would've done that is with help from The Belcourt or some well-placed shaming. Plus? I didn't claw at my eyes once during the whole movie. Way to go, me!

Odds and Sods:

* Although I was at Bonnaroo two weeks ago, I did fit in a chunk of a midnight movie while I was there. I was too tired to make it through the whole thing, but I watched Reggie Watts do a live score for The Last Starfighter, the classic nerd fantasy where being good at video games means you're popular and girls will like you and you're capable of leading an intergalactic defense force. And thus, a generation of dinguses playing World of Warcraft for profit was born (thanks a bunch, Fred Savage).

It was funny, Reggie Watts is a brilliant lunatic — but God, the smell in that place. If you want to watch a movie while being assaulted with by the smell of sweat, patchouli and unwashed hippies, duck into the cinema tent at Bonnaroo. Now that the comedy tent requires tickets, the air-conditioned cinema tent has become a favorite for burnouts who are feeling burnt out. Nobody's really into the movie, they just want to soak up as much air conditioning as possible before they go see Umphrey's McGee or whatever. Which is fine! It's just brutal in there by Saturday night. I saw maybe 20 minutes or so and took off to see Alice Cooper.

* I also caught The Raid: Redemption outside of the theater. They never stop fighting! Ever! I don't know if I could've handled so many knives in so many faces had I really come back to town for the movie. I dug it, but, as a fan of other basically brainless Thai action films (Ong Bak, Chocolate, Tears of the Black Tiger), of course I would.

* As always, the pre-show reel was full of fun stuff: Wes Anderson's Day for Night-inspired American Express commercial, a trailer for frequent collaborator Kumar Pallana's Dada Ji, a skateboarding video with Owen Wilson in it, a SoftBank commercial starring Brad Pitt, Summer Fantasy from Everything is Terrible, two clips/featurettes for Moonrise Kingdom, a Rollerball trailer and a clip of Ghostbusters (coming soon!).

* I renewed my Belcourt membership this week! If you're a fan of good things, I highly recommend becoming a member. It's only $45 ($35 if you're a student) and it's worth every penny.

Next Weekend: We pay tribute to a true American hero — the departed-all-too-soon MCA — with Awesome; I Fuckin' Shot That!, a truly bonkers concert film wherein 50 fans were given camcorders during a 2004 Beastie Boys concert at Madison Square Garden. I don't care if it's the specialty drink of the night or not, I hope the Belcourt is prepared to make me a Brass Monkey.

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