Posts Tagged 'moviegoing'

Super Movie Extravaganza Time!

The best part about going to 11am matinee movies on a Friday? The entire audience (aside from me) is people who qualify for senior citizen discounts. This is mostly a plus, as they don’t talk too much and they don’t text or use their phones at all. For the most part, old people have their priorities straight while they’re watching the movie. I respect that. That said, one thing a lot of them do tend to do is provide their own annoying narration. As a movie is unfolding onscreen, they’ll often try to predict what’s gonna happen next…out loud. “There’s already somebody in the house!” OH, REALLY? How could ya tell? From the broken glass and the door left ajar? THANK YOU, GRANDMA! “Ohhhh, he’s gonna shoot him!” THANK YOU, GRANDMA! No shit! That’s why he pulled his gun out! “Oh, got him!” THANK YOU, GRANDMA! But if I wanted celebratory commentary, I’d watch Gus Johnson call an NCAA basketball game.

Senior citizen narration. It’s irritating at times, but if it’s a choice between that and 4 teenage boys behind me being obnoxious with unfunny wisecracks through the entire movie, I’ll take the seniors’ narration.

Another funny thing happened while I was watching The Lincoln Lawyer on Friday morning. There’s a part where a man and his dog get killed in the man’s apartment. So a police officer tells Matthew McConaughey‘s character, “They shot [character name]”, which elicited a minor “Oh no” from a few senior citizens in the audience. Then the next thing the cop says is, “And they shot his dog, too,” at which point almost the entire audience (there were at least 50 people there), in unison, GASPED loudly, in complete shock and disgust. I had to L-O-L right then and there, just at the audience reaction, because of how telling it was about our culture in general. Very strange. Human misery and suffering…ehh, oh well. Even if it was a character we liked (which it was). But murdering a dog in a movie (even if it’s not shown)?! That’s about the worst thing you can do. Screenwriters take note.

Anywho, over the last week or so, there’s been a lot of interesting news out of Hollywood. So this is a post of all movie news and reaction. A lot of my movie nerd friends will have seen this stuff reported already, but dammit, you haven’t heard MY take yet! And away we go…

-Hey, great news! Men in Black III comes out next year!!! Yeah, I don’t care either. But they’re making it. That’s not the interesting part. The interesting part is how they’ve decided to make it. I insist you read this Hollywood Reporter story about just how fucked up the production has gotten. They deliberately started shooting the movie with only a third of the script complete, which is strange even by Hollywood standards. Really, if you’re at all interested in Hollywood insider biz stuff, it’s a fascinating 2-page read.

I’d been hoping that this movie never got made. My primary issue with the project is that it’s a complete waste of time for everyone involved. However, because Hollywood is so reliant on franchises these days, Sony was gonna make this movie no matter what it took, and once Will Smith finally agreed to do it, it was full steam ahead. Only now, Will Smith isn’t satisfied with the script, which is difficult to remedy once you’ve already started shooting. It’s troubling to me that the first decision made on most big movies these days is the release date. And because Sony has committed to a date (May 25, 2012), they’ll do whatever it takes to get the movie finished in time, even it means releasing a complete turd of a movie. They’re counting on all of us to show up opening weekend regardless, pay more than we should for 3D (oh yes, it’ll be in 3D), sit in our seats, shutup, and deliver a $100 million opening weekend.

The second Men in Black, though it did well (but not as well as the original), was a complete disaster of a movie. There has been no clamor amongst fans for a third movie, so this can only be a blatant money grab by EVERYONE involved (which makes it even more shameful in Smith’s case, because he can make big money doing any project he wants, and THIS is what he chooses- doing the same thing…again). I know damn well Tommy Lee Jones doesn’t want to do this again, but with a likely $20 million+ payday, I can’t name many people who would turn that down. Unlike Smith, Jones doesn’t make anything near that on his other movies. Hell, they had a hard time getting Jones back for part II. I think recent history has shown that sequels made so far apart just for the sake of continuing a tired franchise beating a dead horse (Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull anyone?) have not fared so well creatively. It was 5 years between Men in Black and MiB II, and it will now be 10 years between II and III, and 15 years between the first and third. Perhaps if a movie is this hard to put together, it’s for a reason. Just a thought.

I enjoyed the original Men in Black, but for as long as I’ve wanted to make movies, I’ve wanted to see a serious, X-Files-type story about the so-called men in black, who have been a pop culture superstition for decades. It’s still possible we’ll get one eventually, but it would have to use another title, and it would have to be far removed from these more light-hearted versions. One day, I hope.

Kevin Costner has been cast in Zack Snyder‘s Superman. He’ll play Jonathan Kent, adopted father to Superman, opposite Diane Lane as Martha Kent. I love Diane Lane and I love Kevin Costner, so this is all good, baby. I’m not too familiar with the Superman canon, and it’s unconfirmed how big a part the Kents will play in the film, but it’s solid casting nonetheless. I appreciate how Costner has started taking more supporting roles of late, as his leading man star has faded considerably. I still think he could carry a film just fine, but until people pay to see him as a lead, he’s not gonna get those parts (unless he pays for the movie himself). Until that happens, better to see him in a supporting role than to not see him at all. So long as he keeps away from the Boston accents.

-I, like many others, was very disappointed to learn this week that Darren Aronofsky had suddenly vacated the director’s chair of The Wolverine. The film features a supposedly very solid script by Christopher McQuarrie (The Usual Suspects), and was based on one of the most popular Wolverine comic storylines ever, one set in Japan. It’s supposed to be very raw, less reliant on CGI and more on a lot of hand to hand (and adamantium claw to katana) combat. Hugh Jackman is already deep into his physical training for the movie (and he’s sounded ecstatic about it since day 1), and it was set to shoot on location in Japan for much of the second half of this year. It’s yet unclear whether the recent Japanese earthquake/tsunami was going to delay or elongate the shooting schedule, but Aronofsky’s primary given reason for leaving the film was that it would take him out of the country and away from his family for too long. This is very depressing news. Any intelligent person who saw X-Men Origins: Wolverine knows how flawed that film was, but to have its sequel directed by a talent like Aronofsky had a lot of geeks (myself included) incredibly excited about its potential. And I’m not even a huge Wolverine fan. The film will reportedly still go ahead as scheduled, but obviously with another, likely lesser director. Many of us anxiously wait to learn who that will be. Seeing what Darren Aronofsky would’ve done with a mainstream property like this had a lot of people drooling. I now have to wipe my mouth clean.


-I’m very interested to see Morgan Spurlock‘s latest documentary, The Greatest Movie Ever Sold, which finally got a trailer this week. Basically, it’s about the grip advertising holds over our culture, and he financed the movie (or so he claims) solely by selling sponsorships that will appear onscreen during the film. It’s certainly a unique idea. Check it:

-Just about as fast as Arnold Schwarzenegger left office as Cal-ee-foe-nee-uh’s governor, he stated that he wanted to get back into acting. But what is the market for a semi-retired 60+ year old action star? That remains to be seen. Is he willing to try new genres and new types of roles, or does he really think he can get back into the action game at this late stage of his career? Is it physically possible for him to do what his 65-year old buddy Sylvester Stallone has been doing of late? Stallone has been performing on screen as though it were still 1985. Of course we can question HOW he’s managed to do that, but one has to assume that type of physical strain is not for every senior citizen actor.

I mention this because Tom Arnold recently opened his mouth and said that he thinks a True Lies sequel could be Arnold’s comeback movie. Anyone with any sense thinks that’s absurd for any number of reasons. First of all, James Cameron isn’t available to direct anything but Avatar sequels until 2016, at which point Arnold would be pushing 70. Would Schwarzenegger do a True Lies sequel without Cameron at the helm? Is Cameron even interested in writing it? Would Arnold get involved in a True Lies sequel that wasn’t written OR directed by Cameron? From everything I’ve read from him over the years, the answer is no. Yet every now and then Tom Arnold (and it’s usually ONLY Tom Arnold) tries to stir the pot by starting new True Lies 2 rumors that never go anywhere. This annoys me greatly. I think Tom Arnold is the only one in the world excited about the chance to make this movie. I for one don’t think it’s ever getting made, with or without Arnold Schwarzenegger. That ship has sailed. It’s 17 years and counting since True Lies (one of my favorite movies) came out in 1994. Again, why would anyone want to do it after so much time has passed? And where is the audience demand for it? Pretty much nonexistent, I’d wager. Add True Lies 2 to the list of “sequels nobody asked for.” I love the first movie, but what are you gonna do, have a 65-year old Arnold Schwarzenegger and 53-year old Jamie Lee Curtis back together for more zany espionage and adventure? No thanks.

-On the other hand, a sequel that a lot of people want to see (even if it makes no sense) is a followup to Taken, which is now actually going to happen. I guess for a long time there was a scheduling conflict that wouldn’t allow Liam Neeson to shoot it when they wanted to shoot it (wait, wouldn’t you WAIT for Neeson no matter how long it took?), but that scheduling conflict has apparently been resolved and the sequel will shoot late this year or early in 2012, potentially lining it up for a December ’12 release. The sequel will have the same writers as the original (Luc Besson & Robert Mark Kamen) and be directed by Olivier Megaton, whose most notable credit to date is the third Transporter movie. That’s not confidence-inspiring, but his last name is almost Megatron, so I’ll go with it for now.

Supposedly, the studio was considering other actors to star in the sequel (presumably not as the same character), but that would have been one of the all-time bonehead moves, no? You don’t make a sequel to Taken without Liam Neeson. That should be against the law. I can’t imagine they’ve come up with a plot believable enough to make this worth it, but I’ll see it anyway, dammit. The original is one of the all-time “if you come across it on TV, you’re not turning it off” movies, and it’ll be a tall order to recreate that magic. I truly can’t wait to hear what the plot of this movie is going to be. Maybe some Russian gangsters will kidnap his dog. There’s a great way to garner audience compassion! We’ll sell it as “Taken meets Marley & Me.” See you in HELL, Marco from Tropojë (yes, that’s how it’s spelled)!

Liam Neeson is offended by your arrogance, and here’s every single punch, chop and collision from the original Taken to prove it:

WINNING, anyone?

Joseph Gordon-Levitt has been officially added to the cast of The Dark Knight Rises, and it looks like he’ll be playing Alberto Falcone, the son of Carmine Falcone, played by the great Tom Wilkinson in Batman Begins. With such a big ensemble cast, this is going to be one massive, interweaving story. The only news I’m still waiting to hear on this project (easily my most anticipated movie of 2012) is whether or not James Newton Howard will again team with Hans Zimmer on the score. Zimmer is already confirmed back, but no word yet on JNH’s involvement. I think he’s gotta come back to wrap this thing up nicely. And for the love of god, more composer collaborations like this in the future! Like, if Zimmer ever teamed up with John Williams, I don’t know if my heart could take it.

-I’m sort of ashamed to admit this, but I really like the new trailer to Fast Five. Granted, it shows waaayyy too much, but the action looks amazing. And the reason it looks amazing it because it appears most of it was done practically, with real cars and real stuntmen. In some of the earlier installments, they’ve used CG cars, which ALWAYS look awful (seriously, why has this not been mastered yet, VFX guys?). At the very least, the Vin DieselDwayne Johnson 1v1 fist fight should be badass. Keyword: should be. The Fast and the Furious may be the stupidest, most unnecessary franchise in cinema history, but if it goes out with this kind of a bang, I’m willing to turn my brain off, sit back and enjoy the ride. Besides, I’ll get my usual dose of gratuitous T&A shots of the numerous hot chicks who randomly hang around the cars. What do you have to lose?

And did I mention, Fast Five is NOT in 3D! WohoO!!! That alone may make it worth the price of admission.

Sucker Punch opens Friday, which means more of YOU in my life, Emily Browning:


Today’s Recommended Listening is a solid track off of Lupe Fiasco‘s new album, Lasers. It’s called “All Black Everything” and you WILL like it.  

I Remember: Part 1

I often tell people how bad my memory is. I believe it’s stress related, stress from the strange ups and low downs of the past 10 years of my life. I often have a hard time remembering what I did just days ago, let alone a month ago, a year ago, or back when I was a kid. In fact, to this day the earliest memories I have are from when my family went to Disney World in 1986. I’m willing to best most of you can remember SOMETHING from before you were 6 years old. I can’t. Well, as part of my upcoming posts, I’m going to share 10 things I’ll never forget. Completely random situations – all true – some long stories, some short, that occurred throughout my life. Today’s story will be an independent post all its own, and it’s about the most memorable moviegoing experience of my life, which occurred after I endured the coldest night of my life. But one could not have happened without the other.

Now that it’s winter again, I remember it all too well. It was December, 2003. As a special one-time only event to coincide with the release of The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (the final LOTR film) in theaters, New Line set up special Lord of the Rings marathons across the country. You bought one ticket (which was $25 if I remember right), and prior to the first public screenings of The Return of the King around 10pm Tuesday night (the movie opened that Wednesday), you got to see the extended cuts of The Fellowship of the Ring and The Two Towers (which were previously released on DVD) back to back. It was a massive 3-movie, 12+ hour experience, and would probably be the only chance for a long time to see the extended cuts on the big screen. It was a dream scenario for movie geeks around the country. For myself and my friends Jon and Mark, like many other LOTR fans, attending this event was a no-brainer, but what made us noteworthy was that we also decided we would be among the first people in line. After all, if you’re gonna spend that much time at the theater, you may as well have the best seats, right? To that end, we decided we would camp out outside the theater the night before, Monday going into Tuesday. This was nothing new to me, as I’d camped out previously for the 3 Star Wars prequels, and done long day-of waits for the Matrix sequels. It was always a fun time, you always met cool new people who were just as passionate as you were about the movies, and every now and then you’d get some infamy and appear on the news, which was amusing to me whether it made us look cool or like lunatics.

Now, we could have seen the movies and camped out at the Framingham theater, on our home turf, close to places we knew, closer to our beds, but we knew the Loews Boston Common (which is an AMC now), in the heart of the city, had the biggest and best theaters in the area, and would take a backseat to nowhere when it came to an event like this. Their biggest theater (which I assumed logically would be the one showing the marathon) seats around 650 people, and we knew it would be a great, great crowd. Seeing a great movie is one thing, but seeing a great movie with a great crowd at the first public showing is an experience that can’t be duplicated. We bought our tickets as soon as they went on sale (which was several weeks before the shows if I recall), and went about our business until it came time to set up camp outside the theater. We knew this movie would be worth any cold we’d suffer the night before. And we believed we’d have some company that night.

We’d heard how cold it was going to be prior to heading out, so we dressed accordingly. Unfortunately, the forecast turned out to be quite accurate. The temperature throughout the night was 15º or lower, but what made it really bad was the frightful wind chill. We each had lawn chairs and sleeping bags, but here was what I was wearing; 2 t-shirts under a sweatshirt hoody and a winter coat, 2 pairs of socks, 2 pairs of gloves, sweatpants under my jeans, a scarf for my neck and mouth and a big knit cap. Basically, the only part of my body that was exposed consistently was my nose. It was actually pretty effective. I was cold, but never shivering or anything like that. It’s a good thing, because at the time, there were no 24-hour stores in the area, so there would be no shelter unless we went back to the car, which was about 500 feet away and underground in the Boston Common parking garage. With the constant wind, it was below zero the entire night.

We got to Loews at 7pm and were happy to find we were the first ones to show up. The good news was we could go in and out of the theater lobby until they closed the doors around 11. Until then, we chatted with each other, and to several people who were going in and out of the theater to see other movies, many of whom asked us what the hell we were doing. So we got to explain ourselves about a dozen times, mostly to people who wished us luck and warmth for the night. What they said once we were out of earshot I’ll never know. Eventually, the last show started and they locked the lobby doors, so we were stuck outside, all covered up and looking like homeless people. There we lay, legs outstretched on our folding chairs the entire night, sometimes talking to each other but mostly not. When we did talk, it was to make fun of each other or bitch about the cold. We all tried to sleep with varying levels of success, but the thing we were most looking forward to was having another person or another group of people join us in line. The longer we sat there by ourselves, the more insane we looked. I remember the streets being remarkably quiet that night. It was as though it were so cold, even the cars dared not venture outside. I’m sure if I weren’t freezing to death, it would have been quite pretty had I walked around the Common for awhile. I spent most of my time trying, and failing, to sleep. I refused to try and find shelter or go back to the car, I guess out of some sense of pride. Who knows.

As it turns out, it was 3:30am before anyone else showed up. It was one guy, and he looked genuinely surprised he wasn’t first in line. That’s right pal, there ARE people more fucking nuts than you. Why would you show up at 3:30, by the way? How random is that? People slowly trickled into line as dawn approached, and by 7am there were probably 10-15 of us. Once the Dunkin Donuts nearest to the theater opened up, we were finally able to get some warm drinks. I’ve never enjoyed a Dunkin Donuts hot chocolate more, let me tell you. But as each new person showed up, we gained more and more notoriety for being “the 7 o’clock guys”. We got a lot of respect from our fellow moviegoers for showing up that early, which was kinda cool I have to admit. The Fellowship screening didn’t start until noon, but the theater opened the doors for us at 9am, and at that time there were probably 30 people in line. In the end, this means we could have slept that night at home in our warm beds, and showed up at the theater at 7 or 8 in the morning and still gotten pretty good seats. Even knowing that, I wouldn’t take it back for anything, because we got the best seats in the biggest and best theater in the city for a once-in-a-lifetime event. That said, I won’t be doing it again anytime soon. We ended up getting the seats in the first section up off the floor in the middle of the theater, which I started calling The Throne because that’s exactly what it looked like. Anyone walking across the middle of the theater had to pay their respects as they passed us. Or at least that’s how my delusional mind saw it. They were awesome seats, and because there was no bar in front of us, we could get up and out of the theater easily without disturbing anyone else or climbing over other people. This is a much bigger deal than you might imagine, particularly when you’re in and out of the same seats from 9am until 1am the next morning, when Return of the King ended.

Other than the cold, the main price I paid that day was in the form of sleep deprivation. I didn’t anticipate it would be so hard to sleep out there, even though I was relatively warm under all those layers. I’m gonna guess I slept maybe 30 minutes the entire night, easily the least of the 3 of us. Somehow, both Jon and Mark managed to get a little sleep, Mark the most. There were a few times that night when I knew I was the only one awake, and I was not a happy camper, to say the least. I don’t remember if it was more jealousy or rage. Believe me I tried. My eyes were closed most of the night, but my body refused to shut down. At a certain point, I didn’t give a fuck about being robbed or looking homeless. We each had backpacks, and I had my discman and a couple mix CDs I’d made for the evening. Fuck it, take it, thieves! Just grant me some sleep in return! I’d have given anything for 3 or 4 goddamn hours of sleep. Even after they let us into the theater, and we had the best seats in the house, in the 3 hours from when they let us in until around noon when Fellowship would start, I couldn’t get a minute of sleep. It was maddening. Unfortunately, by the time my body was finally ready to get some sleep, the movies had started. Despite my excitement to see them on the big screen, I had a very hard time keeping my eyes open during the first two movies. I think I managed to last all the way through the Fellowship extended cut (all 208 minutes of it), but I wanna say I slept through a good one-third of the 223-minute Two Towers extended cut. I wasn’t happy about it, but it was physically out of my control. It was either take a nap during Two Towers, or miss part of Return of the King. The latter was not an option. There was an hour-long break between each movie, where went to the bathroom, got some food, etc., but I just couldn’t sleep with the lights up and the sold out crowd around me talking. The good news was I had no problem whatsoever sitting through all of The Return of the King at 10pm. I was so pumped to finally see this story conclude (I hadn’t read the books and had successfully avoided spoilers, so I had no idea how it all wrapped up) that I was riveted for all 3:20 of the theatrical cut of RotK. I think my body also gave me a bit of a second wind. I wasn’t tired at all during the final movie. Eventually, the trilogy ended, and that amazing crowd dispersed. Before they did, that was easily the most people I’ve ever seen stay all the way through the end credits to a movie. I’d say at least a third of the crowd stuck around after RotK ended. As I said, this remains the best moviegoing experience of my life. Short of being in the room while a great crowd watches one of my own movies one day, I don’t see how I’ll ever top December 15-17, 2003.

The 3 of us packed our stuff, got back into Jon’s car (god bless him for driving), and we headed west back to the ‘burbs. When I finally got back home in Framingham, it all hit me, and I don’t know that I’ve ever been happier to see a bed. I slept for 14 uninterrupted hours that night and into the next afternoon, which is still the longest I’ve ever slept at one time.

I consider the extended cuts of the Lord of the Rings movies among the finest films I’ve ever seen, and each extended cut is superior to the original theatrical version. I’m hopeful to get another chance to see the Fellowship and Two Towers extended cuts in theaters again (and the Return of the King extended cut in theaters for the first time) in the coming years (perhaps prior to the release of The Hobbit in 2012?), but if not, I’m proud to be one of the few who can say I got to do it in 2003, and it’s one of my fondest memories. I just can’t believe that it was 7 years ago.

The scene of the crime. We were camped out under the "es" in Loews Theatres, behind where that car is passing.

The Extended Cuts box set. Probably the best DVDs I own.

Next time; I recall how a 17-year old me tried to fix an overheating Buick.

UPDATE: Jon reminded me after I posted the link to this on Facebook that the Boston Common theater was actually the only one in our area that was showing the marathon, and that only 60 or so theaters nationwide were doing it, so Framingham was not an option. Either way, I was glad it was at Boston Common, and would have wanted to go there for it regardless.


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