$4 Movies At the Local Theater Are Worth a Few Bruised Knees

December 29, 2013 § Leave a comment

You always hear people talk about their local coffee shop or their local bookstore and why they love the quaint, quiet, local-ness of it all. You don’t often hear people talk about their local movie theater though. People talk about movies all the time, sure, but never the theater itself. This is probably because most movie theaters are your average, typical AMC or Regal chain. Even so, I love the little things that turn your average chain into your local theater.

My local theater is the AMC Tri-City 8 in Clearwater, FL. I’ll be honest here and let you know it’s a below-average theater. It’s small, so it doesn’t carry very many movies at a time. The seats aren’t the most comfortable things to sit on. And for some reason the lights in the theaters are always off, even before the trailers start. Even so, Tri-City has a certain charm to it.

First off, there are places to eat all around the theater, including a small ice cream shop. So if you’re like me and enjoy sneaking food into the theater eating before seeing a movie, Tri-City has tons of options. There’s also a Dollar Tree in the plaza, and everyone knows Dollar Trees lead to cheap entertainment and childish behavior. You can’t go wrong with that.

Second, the whole small, below-average theater thing actually works to movie-goers’ advantage. There are bigger, newer theaters in the area, so most people go to those for their cinematic pleasure, leaving Tri-City relatively empty. I don’t know if you’ve ever watched a movie in a theater with no one else there, but it’s a great way to pretend you have your own private theater and aren’t actually a poor college student. You can yell at the characters, make jokes, and generally be obnoxious because no one is there to tell you otherwise.

Third of all, the bathrooms at Tri-City have movie posters hanging on the walls. Who doesn’t enjoy peeing across from Brad Pitt’s glorious face? No one, that’s who. They’re also quite clean for public bathrooms, so you don’t feel at all dirty while peeing across from Brad Pitt’s glorious face. Also, the staff is very efficient when it comes to replacing the Employees Must Wash Hands signs. A friend of mine tends to take them and add them to her collection back home. (I don’t know how she started this collection. She also collects fake fruit. I don’t question her about these things.)

The fourth, and probably most important, reason that Tri-City is amazing is that it offers the cheapest movies, hands down. Monday through Thursday, before 4 p.m., tickets are only $4. Yes, adult tickets. They’re $4. And even on nights and weekends tickets are only $6. Do any other theaters even do that? Does anyone else remember what buying a cheap movie ticket feels like? Seeing a movie at Tri-City is like living in an age when gas was $1. Remember when gas was $1? No? You should probably see a movie at Tri-City. You’ll feel so much joy you won’t even realize that you’ve just run into a chair because the theater is so dark.

Admittedly, I do occasionally see movies at the nicer and farther away Woodlands theater. But Woodlands has an IMAX, and that pretty much negates the crowded, pricey aspects of the theater. But when I’m not feeling the IMAX vibe, Tri-City is the place to go. Just don’t try to movie-hop. It’s too small a theater for that, and you will get kicked out. Trust me. I speak from experience.


Review: ‘The Wolverine’ Is, Finally, a Movie That Is Actually About Wolverine

July 25, 2013 § Leave a comment

I’ve written a review of ‘The Wolverine’ over at Hollywood.com. Check it out. Also go see ‘The Wolverine.’ It was a really fun film and is totally worth your time.

Review: ‘Seeking a Friend for the End of the World’ Overcomes Its Failings with a Heartfelt Story

July 23, 2013 § Leave a comment

When Seeking a Friend for the End of the World came out, I missed it in theaters. This was a horrible decision. Then I read some of the reviews, which weren’t awful but weren’t great either, and I put off seeing it again. This was an even worse decision. Now, finally, I made time to sit down and watch it. This was a wonderful decision.

Focus Features/Courtesy

Focus Features/Courtesy

I started this movie thinking it was just a comedy about the end of the world, but it turned out to be so much more than that. Yes, the comedy element was there (and it was good comedy, too), but mainly it was the story of two people who were lost and trying to figure out what they wanted. The end of the film was tonally very different from the beginning, but I didn’t find it abrupt or jarring in any way. The story built up to its end in a way that made sense, and the longer I watched the more I loved it.

The thing I loved most about this film was the relationship between Steve Carell’s and Keira Knightley’s characters, Dodge and Penny. They were two people who were at completely different stages in their lives, but they were also in the exactly the same place. They were lost and unhappy, and with the imminent end of the world they were saddened by the lives they hadn’t lived. But in helping each other get to the people they wanted to see before a giant asteroid crashed into the Earth, the realized they were actually looking for each other. At first their age difference makes it seem like their relationship won’t go in a romantic direction, but when it finally gets there age is the last thing anyone is paying attention to. Dodge and Penny make such a lovely and hopelessly romantic couple that it would have been upsetting if they didn’t end up together.

As I said, the movie ends in a very different place from where it began, but that made the ending that much more powerful. It was no longer about the comedy of living an unfulfilled life; it was about the tragedy of it. There is a very fine line between the two, and this film moved from one side to the other in a wonderful and heartbreaking way. And yes, I cried.

Did Seeking a Friend for the End of the World have its flaws? Of course it did. But for her directorial debut Lorene Scafaria made a moving film, and for everything that didn’t go quite right, there was something else that went so well. This is the story of a couple we haven’t seen a million times set against an unexpected backdrop, and that makes it easy to ignore the less than perfect parts of the film. I can’t believe I waited so long to see it, and for anyone who has the same mindset I did, just give it a chance. It’s worth your time, I promise. Just remember to have a box of tissues handy.


Introducing: Peter Parker’s dad as everyone’s favorite shipwrecked tiger

February 16, 2013 § Leave a comment

Last night I did something I’ve been wanting to do for a long time now; I finally watched The Amazing Spider-Man

I’m a little mad at myself for waiting so long to see it because it was fantastic. I laughed, I cried, I sighed at Andrew Garfield in that skintight suit. But one of my favorite moments came from Irrfan Khan. 

Khan played Rajit Ratha, the henchman-like assistant of the unseen Norman Osborn. He also played the adult Pi Patel in Life of Pi. Apparently he’s attracted to roles in which he gets to mention the name “Richard Parker” numerous times. I don’t know about you, but I found this very amusing. 

I saw Life of Pi in theaters, which is to say, before I saw Spider-Man. So when I saw Khan as a villain I thought, “Aw, but he was so adorable with his love for Richard Parker.” And then BAM! Evil villain Khan was talking about Richard Parker! Needless to say, I immediately rewound and watched the scene again. Laughter ensued.

This is why I love pop culture. Crossovers and references. Sometimes they’re intentional. Sometimes they’re not. But they’re always great to watch. 

R2-D2 in J.J. Abrams’ Star Trek. E.T. in The Phantom Menace. Bugs Bunny and Mickey Mouse in Who Framed Roger Rabbit. Hugh Jackman as Wolverine for two seconds in X-Men: First Class. Joel David Moore’s character in Bones, intern Colin Fisher, camping out to get tickets to Avatar. All things regarding the Avengers.

The entertainment industry is about providing entertainment (shocking insight, I know), and crossovers are entertaining. They offer an opportunity for fans to connect over different titles and over our general love of pop culture. They also give us a chance to see who can dish out the most obscure references, because nerds can be competitive too.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to re-watch The NamesakeThe Darjeeling LimitedSlumdog Millionaire, and New York, I Love You. I’m sure Khan says the name “Richard Parker” in there somewhere.

DVDs organized neatly

February 3, 2013 § Leave a comment

2013-02-03 15.15.29I recently organized my DVD collection, and it felt awesome.

I enjoy collecting all kinds of things: movies, music, books, lipstick, photographs, buttons, you name it. Part of the fun of collecting these things is seeing them organized. If you don’t believe me, check out Things Organized Neatly. You can make just about anything look aesthetically pleasing if you organize it the right way. And I’d like to help you make your DVDs look good.

Your current collection of movies is probably a mess. Let’s fix that. Pull all of your DVDs off their shelf (or wherever you keep them), and lay them out on the floor. Now the floor is a mess, I know. But sometimes things need to get worse before they can get better. Let’s move on.

After you cover half your living room in DVDs, start making piles. All the A’s in a pile, all the B’s in a pile, all the . . . never mind, you get the point. Then arrange each pile alphabetically. The N’s in my collection, for instance, ended up being Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist followed by The Nightmare Before Christmas.

At this point I would like to address the categorization of sub-collections of movies. For example: the James Bond movies sitting on my floor in their own pile. If you have a sub-collection like this, find a letter that they would all fit under (Bond DVDs in the B pile) and a way to organize them within that section (chronologically). Thus, all of the Bond movies went between Blazing Saddles and Borat.

That’s it. The hard (or at least marginally thought-provoking) part is over. Now you just need to put all the piles back on the shelf in order. Not only will you have an organized collection of DVDs, but you will also have a much easier time finding the ones you want to watch.

There’s no rule that says you need to arrange your movies alphabetically. Actually, there are no rules at all about organizing your movies. I’m making this stuff up. So you can set them up however you want. By director. Chronologically. By level of sentimental value. Whatever you want.

Some of you are probably thinking that I should get a hobby or something. To you all I say that collecting is a hobby. You love movies too (or else you wouldn’t be reading this) and probably have your own collection, so I challenge you to organize it. See if you don’t feel great when you’re done.

Then come back here and tell me how right I was. Or don’t. I guess that part is optional.

In defense of Leonardo DiCaprio

January 18, 2013 § Leave a comment

It’s that time of year again: award season. This means many things. It means we get to be astounded by some of the red carpet fashion faux pas and feel slightly awkward when speeches get cut off by that pesky music. We get to praise the winners or fume over those who got snubbed. But more than anything, we get to once again feel sorry for Leonardo DiCaprio.

Sure, Leo’s won plenty of awards. He even won a Golden Globe in 2005 for his role in The Aviator. But he hasn’t won one before or since. And he’s never won an Academy Award.

In fact, he’s only been nominated for an Oscar three times (for What’s Eating Gilbert GrapeThe Aviator, and Blood Diamond). You’d think one day he might try to take a page out of Dom Cobb’s book and plant the idea of winning in the Academy’s mind. At this point that seems like it might be his best chance to take home that little golden statue.

Don’t misunderstand me here. I think DiCaprio deserves an Oscar or three (or five). He should have at least been nominated for Shutter Island and Revolutionary Road. But he always gets passed over.

Sadly, that continues to be the case this year as well. DiCaprio was excellent in Quentin Tarantino’s Django Unchained as Calvin Candie, the despicable slave owner we all love to hate. There was a glimmer of hope at the Golden Globes where he was nominated for best supporting actor. But the award went to his costar Christoph Waltz. Waltz was fantastic as well, but it still stung a little. And it hurt all that much more that DiCaprio was not nominated for an Academy Award.

Alas, we will have to wait for next year’s award season and hope that our Leo gets the recognition he deserves then. Baz Luhrmann’s remake of The Great Gatsby looks very promising. DiCaprio is also starring in Martin Scorsese’s new film The Wolf of Wall Street, set to be released sometime this year.

We will wait out the year in anticipation of the 2014 award season. We know that one day Leonardo DiCaprio will win that much sought after Academy Award. And until then, we will not let go of our hope. We’ll never let go.

Respect the BRRRM

January 10, 2013 § Leave a comment


Cue the white van falling from the bridge in slow motion.

In case you live under a rock, the bit above is from Inception, and that BRRRM is one of the defining aspects of the soundtrack.

The soundtrack to Inception is one of the highlights of the film. It is visceral and in your face, and its impact is obvious. More often, however, soundtracks are subtle and sometimes go unnoticed. That doesn’t mean they’re any less important than the BRRRM.

For instance, I recently watched Beasts of the Southern Wild, and I was blown away by the soundtrack. That may be partly because I love bluegrass music, I’ll admit, but it was mostly because of how seamlessly it flows underneath the images in the film.

String instruments like the fiddle, the mandolin and the banjo keep the music grounded in the southern delta where the film is set. Often a soundtrack can feel forced or out of place, but the music in Beasts of the Southern Wild gives a sense of honesty to the emotions of the scenes. Even the shots of the aurochs (a cattle-like animal) seem realistic, which is impressive considering that they’ve been extinct since the 1600s.

Although the Beasts of the Southern Wild soundtrack never physically shakes your seat with its intensity, it is still strong music that helps carry the film. The script doesn’t need any help, but the music adds that little bit of extra truth anyway. It’s more of a lowercase brrrm, but it’s there nonetheless.