Saturday, March 31, 2012

Marchons! Marchons!

Last week marked the 70th anniversary of that obscure, little movie called Casablanca. In honor of such an occasion, Turner Classic Movies presented a special screening of the movie in theaters all across the country. At least in my area, the theaters showing the movie had two screenings, 2 pm and 7 pm. I attended the matinee screening and, somewhat surprisingly for a early Wednesday afternoon, the theater was packed. Unsurprisingly, that audience skewed much older than me. But peppered in the crowd were some younger folk and some who hadn't yet seen the film. (The girl next to me, for instance, audibly gasped when Ilsa brandished a gun in Rick's upstairs quarters.)

As prelude to the movie, TCM's Robert Osborne hosted about a 15-20 minute documentary discussing the legacy of the Michael Curtiz film. A doc like that is fine when randomly on TV or as a supplement on a DVD, but when it precedes the actual movie, it dilutes its power. So much of it consisted of scenes from the movie that I felt as if I were witnessing the movie pass before me instead of watching it, even though that act was still to come.

In any case, the movie started with nary a hitch. Sure the much older, shabbily dressed gentleman two seats away from me burped several times during the screening. And when I say burp, I don't mean one of those things you do as you put your hand to your mouth and silently let out a breath. These were belches, audible certainly to those other than myself, especially to the four elderly women sitting right next to him. Outside of that, the only other distractions came from the faint whispers of those reciting the more quotable lines of the film. I could hear the woman in front of me say (along with Bogey), "We'll always have Paris," then (not with Bogey), "Awwwww!"

Duplass, who zooms his camera.

In the Duplass brothers' Jeff, Who Lives at Home, Jeff (Jason Segel), who--more accurately--lives in his mother's basement, is presented as your typical slacker. Or at least your typical movie slacker. He's a couch potato, he loves his bong, and a pair of shorts and a hoodie is his sartorial preference. He also believes in signs. Or should I say he believes in Signs, the 2002 movie starring Mel Gibson. The M. Night Shymalan film gets Jeff thinking. Thinking that everything happens for a reason. That something great is his destiny. That everything is connected. That the wrong-number phone call he gets in the basement for somebody named Kevin is a sign that he must follow the first "Kevin" he sees into a bad neighborhood and play a pick-up basketball game with him.