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Snowpiercer: see it, if you can

I don't remember exactly how the movie Snowpiercer came to my attention, but, as is so often the cause, I blame Chris Evans. However, I've also been following the controversy surrounding it: Apparently, the US distributer (The Weinstein Company, infamous for doing this kind of thing) is afraid that the movie is "too smart" for American audiences, and wanted to cut it down, removing all those confusing things like character development and sideplots and everything making it more interesting than your bog-standard Hollywood action blockbuster (and, although no one comes out and says this, probably soften the violence just enough for a PG-13 rating). But the director, Bong Jeen-ho, stood his ground, and instead it's been given a limited release. Very limited, it would seem: the movie is playing on exactly one screen in the entire San Francisco Bay Area, and it's one of the smallest screens in the multiplex, at that. So because I wanted to make sure I saw it, and I wanted to do my part to help prove Harvey Weinstein wrong, T and I went this afternoon.

Verdict: it was excellent. Smart, stylish, political, thought-provoking. The cast (Chris Evans, Tilda Swinton, John Hurt, Song Kang-ho, Octavia Spencer, Ed Harris, many many others) was amazing, as expected. Some aspects of the premise fall apart if you think about them too literally, but they aren’t meant to be taken literally — it’s an allegory, and on that level it works perfectly. Definitely recommended, if you have the chance.

Fortunately, the theater was nearly full at 1pm on a Friday, and the audience was buzzing at the end. So hopefully the tiny shoebox theater at the AMC Metreon will sell out every showing, and the theater will be inspired to move it to another screen, and/or keep it longer, and/or expand to other venues. It’s a good sign, anyway. UPDATE: Here's a list of all the theaters in the US that have current or future showings scheduled. Sounds like most of the openings are on Wednesday, 7/2, and a few more on July 4th.

Also playing at the Metreon: the new Transformers movie, which also opened today. Here, and probably half a dozen other theaters in this city. Think about how many gazillions of dollars that big, noisy blockbuster film is going to make today. Nothing against big, noisy blockbuster films! I often enjoy them myself. But how many of the people lining up to see it would have gone to see Snowpiercer instead, if they knew it existed? How many of them would have had a more enjoyable experience, and gotten something to think about along with their action fix? All because Harvey Weinstein thinks we’re not smart enough to handle allegory, subplots, character development. The next time someone starts complaining about Hollywood movies and how bad they are, I know what example I’m going to point to.

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