$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.

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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.

Don’t be afraid to buy the medium bag of popcorn

November 12, 2012 § Leave a comment

Dinner and a movie.

It’s become the typical and cliche date for young high schoolers in love. It can also be a great night out with friends. But what about going to the movies alone?

A lot of people shy away from that one empty seat between The Chick Who’s Obviously Going to Talk the Whole Time and The Man Who is Clearly Too Large for This Chair. That hesitation is understandable. No one actually wants their right ear to fall off while their left shoulder is being swallowed whole by a blob monster. But there’s probably also a row that’s fairly empty, and there’s no reason you can’t lay claim to it.

Maybe you don’t have a boyfriend or girlfriend. Maybe all your friends are busy. Maybe you don’t have very many friends. Who cares? There are so many amazing films out, and you shouldn’t let a lack of moviegoing companions keep you from seeing them.

The key is to act you like own the whole damn movie theater. Walk up to that box office with your head held high and your fist ready to punch those annoying little teenyboppers in the face . . . okay maybe don’t do that second thing.

Anyway, moving on. Flirt with the guy who rips your ticket stub or the girl who sells you that soda and medium bag of popcorn. Yeah, that’s right, order the medium. You’re already there by yourself, so you might as well go all out.

(Don’t forget to go to the bathroom at some point before the movie though. If you need to pee in the middle of it you won’t have anyone to explain the epic plot twist you just missed.)

So now you’ve braved the public bathroom, got your snack and left your number with the guy at the ticket counter. It’s time to find your seat.

When you enter the theater, don’t be afraid to take a minute look at where the best seats are. You do this anyway with friends. Now, some people like to sit completely alone. Others like to sit near other people for possible interaction before or during the movie. Either of these scenarios is okay. Just do what feels comfortable.

Once you’ve found your seat the worst is over. The movie will start, it will be amazing and you’ll forget whatever reservations you might have had when you were forced to park your car 5 miles from the actual entrance because you left a little bit late and all the good spots were taken.

As humans, we like doing things with other people; it’s in our nature. But doing things on our own can be just as fulfilling. So next time you really want to see that new action flick that none of your girl friends like, or that chick flick that makes all your guy friends want to vomit, don’t stress about not having someone to go with. Go on your own. Be shameless about it. Buy the medium bag of popcorn.

Reboots, remakes and returns to old franchises

July 30, 2012 § Leave a comment

There are a lot of great films in theaters right now, from The Dark Knight Rises to Magic Mike. The box office is booming. In the middle of it all, though, are some movies that seem rather familiar.

The Amazing Spider-Man opened on July 3, a mere five years after the third installment of director Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man franchise. The new film, starring Andrew Garfield as Peter Parker, was directed by the appropriately-named Marc Webb.

Fans and critics alike are fairly evenly divided when it comes to the new film. Many find its darker tone refreshing. Others frown at how angst-driven it is. The main factor for many viewers, though, is whether or not they can get past how prematurely the franchise was rebooted and watch The Amazing Spider-Man as a new film in its own right.

Meanwhile, this Friday marks the upcoming release of the remake of the 1990 Arnold Schwarzenegger film Total Recall. Colin Farrell takes up the main role in the film, playing it in a slightly less-muscular fashion than Schwarzenegger. Fans of the original are excited, and anxious, to see what else will be different in the new movie.

And on August 10, just one week after Total Recall opens, The Bourne Legacy will open in theaters nationwide. Viewers of the Bourne franchise thought that the story ended with Matt Damon’s cunning evasion of the CIA. Now, however, Jeremy Renner will star as everyone’s favorite genetically-altered secret agent. And fans seem pretty excited.

Is Hollywood running out of ideas? With wonderfully original films like Savages and Moonrise Kingdom also currently in theaters, it’s hard to give a straight answer to that question.

Regardless of how new or original today’s films are, however, they’re definitely bringing in viewers. Some want to see how the new holds up against the original. Others have never seen the original, so the new is truly new.

In either case, The Amazing Spider-ManTotal Recall, and The Bourne Legacy are three of the films that everyone is talking about right now. Whether or not they will ignite a discussion akin to the Star Wars originals vs. prequels argument, though, is yet to be seen.

2D, or not 2D, that is the question

July 30, 2012 § Leave a comment

Recently, it seems like there’s always at least one movie in theaters being shown in 3D. Some are animated films, others are live action. Many are a little of both.

3D certainly gives films something extra, but is it really necessary? When did seeing films in the tried-and-true two-dimensial fashion cease to be enough?

I’ll admit that there are certain films I enjoy seeing in 3D. Animated films like those made by Pixar are more fun to watch when they pop out at you a bit, and superheroes seem a little bit bigger in 3D. For the most part, however, I prefer watching movies in 2D.

First off, watching films in 2D is simply more comfortable. 3D glasses are large and cumbersome, and sometimes take away from the experience of a movie. Also, 3D puts a strain on your eyes that can often make you just want to close them.

The good thing is that most theaters give moviegoers the option to watch in either 3D or 2D. That way, everyone’s happy.

Some films benefit from 3D. Others are best seen in 2D. Determining which is better depends on who you ask. Either way, though, 3D isn’t going away any time soon.

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