Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Manchester by the Sea

Manchester by the Sea
seen @ Kew Gardens Cinemas, Kew Gardens, Queens NY

I haven't talked about the Kew Gardens Cinemas in awhile. They recently upgraded the theater, installing a bunch of video screens everywhere: for "coming soon" displays, the box office listings, the menu, and even the individual theaters. All this new technology has meant a slight increase in admission prices, but they're still way cheaper than Manhattan. Plus, I can see where my money's going.

I went to the Kew on a Sunday for a change (before going to my writers group) to see Manchester by the Sea. Imagine my surprise when I saw a line to get in that went out the door and around the corner! Now, by Manhattan standards, this isn't as impressive as it sounds. Besides, the Kew is located very close to the corner of the block. Still, I took it as a sign that the neighborhood supports this place, which is always great to see. For a moment, I felt like I was at Film Forum or the Angelika.

Manchester played in Theater 3, the big auditorium. I was worried I might not get a ticket, but I did, and wouldn't you know it, the house was packed. I had to take a nostril seat in the front row. The movie didn't have many really tight close-ups, though, so this time I didn't have the sensation of staring up Casey Affleck's nostril.

The start was delayed in order to seat everybody. I took advantage by going back to the crowded lobby for some (unsalted) popcorn. As I waited on line, I heard them announce Manchester was sold out, though there were about five or six empty seats to my right and one to my left. Still, I'm glad I arrived in time.

Manchester is written and directed by Kenneth Lonergan, who made a splendid movie called You Can Count On Me way the hell back in 2000, and another one, Margaret (which I missed), five years ago. Mostly he works as a writer. Affleck is a Boston janitor who becomes a surrogate parent to his nephew after his father, Affleck's brother, dies. Affleck, however, isn't cut out for the job due to long-simmering issues of his own.

Is it possible Casey's a better actor than his brother Ben? He's terrific in this one. He's been quietly building up an impressive array of roles in films like Gerry and The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, though to me he'll always be Patrick Kenzie in Gone Baby Gone.

This movie is a showcase for him. His character Lee is wound tighter than a drum and has serious anger management issues as a result of something that happened years ago. He:s never been able to make peace with that incident, which has meant his relationships with other people are hampered. The introduction of his nephew Patrick does little to nothing to change that state. Don't expect a happy ending.

As well written, acted and directed as Manchester is, though, I can't say it moved me the way, say, Moonlight did. I'm glad I saw it, but I suspect the mountain of hype behind this movie, the tons of critical praise it has received, led me to think it was gonna be spectacular when I just found it very good.

I'm kinda glad I sat where I did. There were more than a few people shushing each other in the upper rows behind me. It's funny, when I saw Allied, the relatively small audience made the talkers' voices stand out more. Here, at a packed house, I can't say I noticed any problem talkers, but that may have been because I was in the front row.

I didn't get a good look at the crowd, but I'm pretty sure it was mostly older (though not necessarily old) people. I don't wanna make a big deal of this, though; who knows what hearing problems may be at play I don't know about? I'm just glad I wasn't disturbed by the audience.

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