This collection of entries is from the Category "Movies".
Sunday, February 24, 2008
Another trip into the city for the annual Academy Awards party at B&B's.
I just didn't like the evening... wait... that came out wrong... I loved being with our friends and having a good time...
It's just the Red Carpet.. and the Awards... meh
No stellar dresses... STUPID people doing the coverage of the Red Carpet....and with SO many "dark" movies nominated, it was just kind of depressing, and since we don't see those kind of movies, we had no vested interest with anything in the show.
On top of that, no contest this year at the party because "because Michael always wins!!"
Well... not ALWAYS...
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Performance by an actor in a leading role
Daniel Day-Lewis in “There Will Be Blood” (Paramount Vantage and Miramax)
Performance by an actor in a supporting role
Javier Bardem in “No Country for Old Men” (Miramax and Paramount Vantage)
Performance by an actress in a leading role
Marion Cotillard in “La Vie en Rose” (Picturehouse)
Performance by an actress in a supporting role
Tilda Swinton in “Michael Clayton” (Warner Bros.)
Best animated feature film of the year
“Ratatouille” (Walt Disney) Brad Bird
Achievement in art direction
“Sweeney Todd The Demon Barber of Fleet Street” (DreamWorks and Warner Bros., Distributed by DreamWorks/Paramount)
Art Direction: Dante Ferretti
Set Decoration: Francesca Lo Schiavo
Achievement in cinematography
“There Will Be Blood” (Paramount Vantage and Miramax) Robert Elswit
Achievement in costume design
“Elizabeth: The Golden Age” (Universal) Alexandra Byrne
Achievement in directing
“No Country for Old Men” (Miramax and Paramount Vantage) Joel Coen and Ethan Coen
Best documentary feature
“Taxi to the Dark Side” (THINKFilm)
An X-Ray Production
Alex Gibney and Eva Orner
Best documentary short subject
A Lieutenant Films Production
Cynthia Wade and Vanessa Roth
Achievement in film editing
“The Bourne Ultimatum” (Universal) Christopher Rouse
Best foreign language film of the year
“The Counterfeiters” An Aichholzer Filmproduktion, Magnolia Filmproduktion Production
Achievement in makeup
“La Vie en Rose” (Picturehouse) Didier Lavergne and Jan Archibald
Achievement in music written for motion pictures (Original score)
“Atonement” (Focus Features) Dario Marianelli
Achievement in music written for motion pictures (Original song)
“Falling Slowly” from “Once”
Music and Lyric by Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova
Best motion picture of the year
“No Country for Old Men” (Miramax and Paramount Vantage)
A Scott Rudin/Mike Zoss Production
Scott Rudin, Ethan Coen and Joel Coen, Producers
Best animated short film
“Peter & the Wolf” (BreakThru Films)
A BreakThru Films/Se-ma-for Studios Production
Suzie Templeton and Hugh Welchman
Best live action short film
“Le Mozart des Pickpockets (The Mozart of Pickpockets)” (Premium Films)
A Karé Production
Achievement in sound editing
“The Bourne Ultimatum” (Universal)
Karen Baker Landers and Per Hallberg
Achievement in sound mixing
“The Bourne Ultimatum” (Universal)
Scott Millan, David Parker and Kirk Francis
Achievement in visual effects
“The Golden Compass” (New Line in association with Ingenious Film Partners)
Michael Fink, Bill Westenhofer, Ben Morris and Trevor Wood
“No Country for Old Men” (Miramax and Paramount Vantage)
Written for the screen by Joel Coen & Ethan Coen
“Juno” (Fox Searchlight)
Written by Diablo Cody
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Saturday, February 23, 2008
This is so cool. I don't know if a national chain of movie theaters has ever done this before....
Today, starting at 11am, select AMC theaters will start a marathon of movies nominated for Best Picture at tomorrow's Academy Awards.
Michael Clayton 11:00 a.m.
There Will Be Blood 1:20 p.m.
Atonement 4:20 p.m.
Juno 7:00 p.m.
No Country for Old Men 9:00 p.m.
For $30, you get a free large popcorn with unlimited refills all day. Oh, and there's this "collectible pass" for the event.
I think this would be SO COOL... but... if I have problems sitting through one movie, how am I going to sit for 5 movies over 12 hours?
Saturday, January 26, 2008
After a day of getting a haircut, getting food for the rabbits (and fighting the dog and cat adoption chaos inside the store), having a wonderful lunch at CPK, buying a long-overdue new radio for Carol's truck... we went to the AMC South Barrington 30 and caught the 4:20 showing of Michael Clayton.
A great movie... really. And George Clooney is really growing on me as an actor. But, it's becoming apparent to me, that if I am going to the movies, I want something else. I want action. I want fun. The last three movies were none of those. I think I need to find something to watch to break this cycle.
Saturday, October 27, 2007
Went to see Gone
Drove into the city to pickup B&B to drive to the Evanston Century 12 theaters to see Gone Baby Gone.
Well, I have to say lately that I think I've decided that "my kind of movie" is one that entertains, it could be "light", it could be "action"... and this movie doesn't fall into that genre for me. I was reluctant to go, but as Carol pointed out to me, I seem to have been steering our movie going in that direction when the four of us are together and it was time to see one of "their" movies.
A bit dark... a bit disturbing (the subject matter)... but.. I MUST admit, well performed... and enjoyable in that sense.
And, to top it off, my legs didn't twitch at all in those seats, and I haven't the foggiest reason why.
After the movie, we drove back to their neighborhood to hit a LITTLE restaurant that we love going to - El Tapatio. The food was great, as always, but tonight our issues were 1) sitting under a speaker that was JUST TOO LOUD... and 2) since when do all these toddlers love Mexican food? the restaurant is TINY and the tables really close together, especially in the back where we always seem to sit, but I don't like have to scoot my chair as close to the table as possible (up against my stomach) to stay out of the way of the lady sitting behind.. .and the toddler always running into my chair... the amount of kids in such a tiny restaurant was startling...
We went to their house afterward to watch Game 3 of the World Series (there's no way Boston is gonna loose this series... sorry Colorado...) and had some yummy hot apple pie from Dinkel's (complete with a great vanilla bean ice cream, too).
Wednesday, May 31, 2006
Damn the major motion picture juggernauts...
After work tonight, we decided to start catching up on the major releases, so we dashed over to the AMC South Barrington 30 again to catch a 6pm showing of X-Men: The Last Stand.
I have mixed feelings about this one. Great action. I don't think I care. There were some really nice things, though. Like Ian McKellen (Eric Lensherr/Magneto) and Patrick Stewart (Professor Charles Xavier) looking over 20 years younger thanks to CGI.
My most favorite new character? Dr. Hank McCoy, Secretary of Mutant Affairs / Beast (Kelsey Grammer).
But... I just didn't REALLY get into the movie. Too bad that's the end of the movie franchise.
Sunday, May 28, 2006
Indy, Indy, Blinds, MI3
Well, our older bunny Indy seems to be having problems - she's not eating much at all and she just wants to be alone - a good indication that she's sick. It's almost like at the end of 2004, but she was really in distress and really hiding. This is like she's a little... off. She wants to eat and she eats a little, but then just stops. She's urinating with a good stream, so we're not sure what's going on.
Speaking of Indy... there's another Indy on TV today - the Indianapolis 500.
WHY THE HELL CAN'T ABC BROADCAST THE INDY 500 IN HD? Hell, Fox broadcasts all of the NASCAR events in HD, and this is a special event! What the hell!
We had to get new blinds for the bedroom - the one on my side of the bed actually started to fall apart from all that exposure to the sun after all of these years. Carol went to Lowes and had some blinds cut to size... too bad they were the wrong size. At least she had them cut too long so she could go back and take some more off. After she struggled with that, then we had to change the mounting hardware... Let's just say the task took way longer than either of us thought. Then, when everything was done, we rushed to the AMC South Barrington 30 to catch a 3:10 showing of Mission: Impossible III.
It was OK (I got over my Tom Cruise issues quickly), and there was a LOT of action, but... I don't know, it seemed a little implausible (what? an IMF Mission being implausible? Well, it wasn't the mission - it was the fact an IMF agent would get married to someone that doesn't know what he really does for a living - I think that was my problem)
UPDATE: On Thursday night, ABC broadcast the Scripps Spelling Bee. LIVE. IN HDTV
Saturday, November 26, 2005
B & B drove out from the city and the four of us went to the AMC South Barrington 30 this afternoon to catch a 4:00 showing of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.
This film really is darker and more intense than the prior movies. Still great acting, great story and yet the directors have all been aware that even though it's am effects laden movie, the effects never overwhelm the storyline or experience. Also, a bit longer than I remember.
After the movie, we went back to our house for shrimp and orzo with garlic bread, and talked for an hour or so. We love seeing each other and just spending time together.
Saturday, October 29, 2005
Cheese and Rabbits!
We went to the AMC South Barrington 30 this afternoon to catch a 4:40 showing of Wallace & Gromit in The Curse of the Were-Rabbit. You can never never never go wrong watching a picture from Aardman Animation. However - perhaps a Full-Length motion picture (85 minutes) really is a little long for our buds Wallace and Gromit. GREAT movie, though
Wednesday, July 27, 2005
We went to the AMC South Barrington 30 this afternoon to catch a 5:45 showing of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory tonight. I loved the original so much, that I didn't know what to expect.
OOMPA-LOOMPAS!!!! Holy crap I loved these guiys... or guy actually (It was one guy - Deep Roy - who played 165 oompa-loompas via digital effects) GREAT new songs - all from Roald Dahl himself (lyrics, anyway. Music and vocals by Danny Elfman)
and Squirrels! (or, has Veruca says "squir-rels" - I don't know about you, but around here we call them "squirlz" and not "squir-rels") You have to see 40 REAL (not digital produced) squirrels opening nuts in the nut sorting room (they do get digitally animated later in the scene for some specific actions), but they actually trained the squirrels for the nut-sorting!
Over-all, very enjoyable! And the inclusion of a Willy Wonka backstory seems to round-out the script and gives what I think is a more satisfying ending to the moving (compared to the original).
I only missed one thing - I would have LOVED to hear Johnny Depp deliver that wonderful verse:
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"There's no earthly way of knowing
Which direction we are going
There's no knowing where we're rowing
Or which way the river's flowing
Is it raining?
Is it snowing?
Is a hurricane a-blowing?
Not a speck of light is showing
So the danger must be growing
Are the fires of hell a-glowing?
Is the grisly reaper mowing?
Yes, the danger must be growing
'Cause the rowers keep on rowing
And they're certainly not showing
Any signs that they are slowing! "
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Saturday, July 16, 2005
WOW and Beef
We had Barry & Buffy meet us at Streets of Woodfield this afternoon so that we could all go to see War of The Worlds at the Loews theaters there. We haven't seen them in a while. We got there almost 45 minutes before the movie started - just to make sure we got seats (not a problem with that much time before the start)
I'm still not sure how I feel about the movie. Effects - SUPERB. Technology is really getting effective. I guess I'm still stumbling around the plot, or story line, or how I feel about it. I guess I have to just look at it as "a day in the life" (or many days in the life) of a divorced dad and his kids... when aliens invade the earth with the intent of wiping out all of humanity and succeeding easily with NO HOPE of being able to fight them off, even just a little, to just save a small town or city, only to slowly realize that perhaps they cannot save the entire human species from genocide. The ending scenes... sucked, I think. I wasn't expecting resolution, but surely you would think that something changed in the family relationships by the end... (and why the hell did those few blocks in Boston look surprisingly untouched?)
So, even though we initially talked about going to Big Bowl for dinner, Buffy mentioned she needed meat. So. we made dinner reservations at Chicago Prime Steakhouse, which we haven't been to in years. Had a WONDERFUL wait-person named Cindy who was one of the better servers that we've had in years (If you go - ask for her - you won't be disappointed). We had wonderful meals - though it was quite a bit pricier that we were prepared for.
Afterward, we went back to our house so that we could show them the landscaping that Diane had done, the new rugs that they haven't seen in the living room/dining room, and of course, to take a short spin in front of the big screen TV for a while.
In just two weeks we're heading up to Diane's house in Michigan for a mini-getaway. We're all looking forward to that.
Thursday, May 26, 2005
A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away....
Carol got out of work early and we went to the AMC South Barrington 30 to catch a 5:00 showing of Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith. Action - good! Script - weak, though it actually does tie everything together in one neat bow. Worst acting ever: Natalie Portman. She looked gorgeous, but her acting was terrible. The script turned her from a strong leader to a woman without a backbone. Terrible.
I actually shed a tear at the end. Not because of the acting, not because of the storyline. Because it's over. Six movies and 3 decades. It's over.
Tuesday, May 24, 2005
I went to the AMC South Barrington 30 this afternoon to catch a 2:15 showing of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. I'm not sure what I was expecting - my exposure to the storyline is the BBC TV miniseries. I liked the movie (I'm not going to rave about it - I don't think it's worth "raves"). The character I was most disappointed in was Mos Def - I felt he just mumbled his way through the picture. A disappointing performance.
Had an unusual experience in the theater. For the ENTIRE movie, I was the only one in the theater. No one even poked their head in to see what the crowd looked like APR peek at the movie. It was my own private screening. Carol called my cell phone during the movie. I actually talked on my cell phone in the middle of the movie - I wasn't disturbing ANYBODY!
Friday, December 10, 2004
We went to the AMC South Barrington 30 to catch a 3:45 showing of Ocean's Twelve. Carol has been taking half-days off on Fridays in December and I'm officially out of work, so this was a perfect time.
The movie was... good. I think Carol enjoyed it more than I. It was hard to follow because there were a lot of flashbacks and plot points that weren't revealed until late in the movie. It just wasn't as satisfying as Ocean's Eleven.
Saturday, November 13, 2004
Over the past few weeks I don't see much of Carol anymore. Well, at least it seems that way. She's putting in an awful lot of hours at work, but it's seasonal and this isn't the first time we've had to go through this. That forced us to go to the movies on a Saturday. We went to the AMC South Barrington 30 to catch a late afternoon showing (4:45pm) of The Incredibles.
We typically don't go to the movies on a Saturday, especially as it turns toward evening. Today, we found out why that's a good thing.
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We got to the theaters about half an hour before the scheduled showtime. We were in Theater 29 (out of 30), so we were in one of the smaller theaters, and already there were people camped out in the "good seats". (Everyone has "good seats" when they go to the movies - it's that place where you always want to sit because it gives you the correct angle to the screen, not too close where you can't see the whole sctreen, but not too far away where the screen appears too small for your liking and the audio is now at a lower level than what you like). During the next 20 minutes, there was a steady flow of people coming into the theater, eventually filling up every seat 10 minutes before showtime. The group is mixed between adults, teens and parents with kids of all ages. It was so bad, coples were plitting up so they could sit in individual seats across the theater.
Then the wait seemed to be getting longer. Sure enough, it's 5 minutes after trhe scheduled start and a quick look into the projection booth shows... the projector opened-up and somebody working inside. Another 5 minutes pass and I look around the auditorium and see kids starting to run around and popcorn everywhere. This could get messy.
The lights come down and the audio of the trailers starts up. The audio is familiar and when the bulb in the projectror turns on, everyone realizes it's the trailer for Star Wars III. But - the framing is off and the top half of the film is on the bottom of the screen and vice-versa. The crowd is screaming for someone to fix it as the trailer plods on... eventually someone hears our pleas. Damn. It was the only trailer I really wanted to see. We see the SpongeBob SquarePants trailer and then anothertrailer startes for some animated story I didn't know when the film comes off the sprokets, and out of the gate and shuts down. Now management is involved trying to calm the crowd. Because the delay is so long, we are given free small drink and free small popcorn vouchers. The trailers start again, this time it starts in the middle of Pixar's next picture - Cars - due in November of next year. A Pixar short starts - and abruptly stops. Management is back - we're getting free passes for a movie as compensation for our trouble. The theater all this time is pandemonium of kids being restless, people going to and from the concessions, people just leaving from having to endure these delays, and people still coming into the theater looking for non-existant seats.
50 minutes after the scheduled start, The Incredibles is finally on the screen.
Thre wasn't a hitch during the show, which was a relief. The movie itself was absolutely great! It explores ideas never brought before on the screen - such as what happens to superheroes when society turns litigious? How do superhero families cope with their powers... or just cope to fit-in with society? The animation is great, the voice acting again is great. This is well worth seeing! It will be another Pixar hit - guaranteed!
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Thursday, October 21, 2004
Got bored again so I decided to see a film that's not out in wide release. I went to the AMC South Barrington 30 to catch a matinée (1:45pm) of The Final Cut.
Well, it was... good. I thought it was odd that it was video projected instead of being on film. The film had an interesting concept - everyone in the future would have the option to implant an organic chip in their child that will record (audio/video) everything in your life (I think, based on clips in the film, that the chip is implanted in eutero) from birth until death. Then, instead of a normal wake, the family and/or friends would hire a "Cutter" to edit all of the recorded material into a feature-length movie that's called a "Rememory" that is shown at a Remembrance ceremony that is held at what is a cross between funeral parlor and movie theater. There are interesting ethics issues that come up when dealing with this kind of material and the movie tries to show how they could all play out - though a bit unsuccessfully. Recommendation? Wait for cable - if that.
Friday, October 15, 2004
Base on bored
My baseball season is over, so I went to the AMC South Barrington 30 to catch a matinée (1:45pm) of Mr. 3000.
Don't bother. I was hoping that it would be another classic baseball movie in the lines of Bull Durham, Field of Dreams, Major League.
Nope. Crap. Lots of factual errors and anachronisms that I could not get passed. So, nice baseball photography but nothing else.
Thursday, September 23, 2004
I took off and spent the afternoon at the AMC South Barrington 30 to catch a matinée (1:30pm) of Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow. OK, there is hardly any resemblance of a plotline. Hell, this movie would fit well on Mystery Science Theater 3000. Everything is played pretty broadly, like a SciFi movie of the 30's.
BUT... This movie looks great. Why? Other than the actors, the entire movie is computer generated. The actors worked on blue screen/green screen sets. Watching this movie, it's hard to believe that there were no sets - no cars, no aircraft, no walls, no water... NOTHING. It was all generated. If you are interested in that type of cinematic technology, go see this movie on a big screen and see how far the technology has come.
Just don't go looking for a well written script.
Thursday, September 02, 2004
I went over to the AMC South Barrington 30 to catch a matinée (1:50pm) of Collateral. I didn't know what to expect, I had heard a few good things about the movie so I thought I'd check it out.
WOW. I was blown away - much better than I had thought. First, acting - Jamie Foxx was great and Tom Cruise was OK. The thing that got me was the look of the movie. It takes place all in one night. To get the look right, it was shot in HDTV. That's right - digital video instead of film. This allowed the crew the freedom of shooting in very low light levels with richness of color and not having to wash a set in high intensity lighting. In fact, it's hard to see any lighting in the film. It was wonderful and magical - I don't know how to explain it - you felt the night. I would highly recommend the film.
Wednesday, August 04, 2004
Well, on request of Carol, I got out of the house tonight so she could just have a night to herself (you know, without me "breathing in the house"). So, I went over to the AMC South Barrington 30 and caught the 5:30 Thunderbirds. I knew Carol didn't want to see it and I just had to see it since it was one of my favorite shows when I was a kid. I was upset that they twisted the story line into a kids movie, but they were pretty damn true to the spirit of the original series. It was a fun ride, but if you're not a fan, don't bother.
The movie was over by 7:20, so I decided to stay and caught the 7:40 Catwoman. I don't know what I was hoping for, but I wanted more. There was something missing. I mean, Halle Berry was great to watch but the movie just didn't hold me...
Thursday, July 01, 2004
Carol and I went to the AMC South Barrington 30 to see The Terminal.
Well, I know that there's a lot of mixed reviews out there, but we really enjoyed this film. Though you may think of "Krakhozia on the Hudson", Spielberg and John Williams' music just gives it another notch of charm. And, yes, Carol & I got hit with a bit of sentimentality toward the end, but I still liked the movie. The set is unbelievable - who would have thought that the entire set was in a hangar in Palmdale and not a real airport terminal somewhere?
Tuesday, June 22, 2004
Man, I absolutely love these freakin' shows!!! CBS ran AFI'S 100 YEARS...100 SONGS: AMERICA'S GREATEST MUSIC IN THE MOVIES. These are wonderfully produced shows, just like last year's "100 Years… 100 Heroes & Villains". The American Film Institute comes up with a list of 400 songs and their membership decides which 100 are the best. Here's the list of songs (PDF).
Sunday, June 06, 2004
Something Wicked This Way Comes
We decided to try something different in our plan of attack for our next summer movie: We went to the AMC South Barrington 30 to catch the 11:15am showing of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, figuring that most people may be at church at 11:15am on a Sunday. Well, we were close, but we didn't take into consideration that they first showing of the movie would be in a tiny theater, so it was packed. Since we couldn't find two seats together, I decided that we should catch the next show at 11:45, which happened to be in one of the large theaters. We were the first ones in and got our favorite seats - first row of the stadium seating, dead center.
The movie was great, but really different that the prior two. Yes, it's darker in content, but the film itself is also darker - the colors are muted, there's a lack of sun in the exterior scenes - at least those shot during the day.
Not much more that I really want to say, other than the movie was great and the kids are growing up.
I read somewhere that the new director - Alfonso Cuarón - had unwittingly, without any knowledge, accidentally "tipped-off" two things in this movie that J.K. Rowling hasn't written into the next books yet, that are going to happen. I wonder what they are?
Wednesday, May 26, 2004
Far Far Away
The summer movie season is upon us and we decided to finally jump in. We went to the AMC South Barrington 30 to see Shrek 2.
As good as - if not better than - the original. Great soundtrack, too.
Should be a good movie season - we trying to plan out which flicks we're going to see...
Saturday, May 22, 2004
Woo Hoo!! We finally got a chance to have dinner with B&B at their house with Debbie to celebrate the May birthdays (Carol & Debbie).
Damn. it's been so long since we've seen these guys. And they're our bestr friends. Our schedules just haven't worked out at all.
We missed these people - it's like part of our very lives had just gone misisng.
We watched the oddest little movie tonight... The Triplets of Belleville. Odd, strange, funny.
Monday, February 16, 2004
The Academy Awards - in Chicago
I saw the Oscars today. All of them.
Huh? The 76th Annual Academy awards are 13 days away. And they're at the Kodak Theater on Hollywood Boulevard in L.A.
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Saturday, February 14, 2004
B&B came over this evening for dinner. They were hardly in the door when we started talking poilitics. The rest of the evening was talk talk talk - which I love. I love the fact that we can talk about a whole range of subjects, and have a spirited diiscussion and not feel bad if anyone has an opposing stance or position. After Carol's pork tenderloin dinner, we watched the movie that they got for the evening - Whale Rider. OK, yes I agree with the Oscar nom for Keisha Castle-Hughes, and the movie is actually quite touching and moving and, yes, makes you want to go to New Zealand.
Saturday, November 15, 2003
B & B & the movies
Barry and Buffy came over this afternoon. We caught the 3:30 showing of Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World at the AMC South Barrington 30. The theater was packed - I should have realized that it had great buzz and it had just opened yesterday. thank God for MovieTickets.com!. For once, I almost felt like complaining over the amount of Trailers before the movie (now, don't get me wrong, I absolutely love Trailers, but there were more Trailers before this movie than there are in E!'s Coming Attractions show!) Everyone raved about this movie. It was spectacular on the big screen (I would consider this a MUST SEE on the big screen), but I'd give it 3 stars, not 4. It ran 139 minutes and - to me - it felt it. Now, don't get me wrong, this is a wonderful movie to see, but I just wasn't "sucked-in". Don't know why. Wonderful to watch, though. The ships, the sea, the storms, the battles, the details. Wow.
We went back to our house afterward. Caught a showing of Dinner for Five on IFC. B&B have never seen the show before and this was a good one to catch. They seemed to enjoy it (we always do, though sometimes there are people on that are not our favorites) and hopefully they'll catch it on a regular basis. Carol made a dinner of orzo and shrimp with a salad and garlic bread. We talked about everything as we always do. Then we tried to find something to watch on TV for the night and it was slim pickings. We wound up watching Don't Say a Word, which Carol & I have never seen before. A much better movie than the advertising pitched.
It's great having friends over for dinner and movies...
Thursday, September 25, 2003
Warner Brothers Studios
It's 9:30am and I pull off of Olive into the parking structure that's also gate 3 for Warner Brothers Studios.
I'm here to do what Carol & I did the last time we were out here - take the Warner Brothers Studios VIP Tour. But, this time, instead of a tour that takes about 2-2½ hours, I'm going to do the Warner Brothers Studios Deluxe VIP Tour and take about double the time. I am soooo excited about this. My sister Diane and Melinda were just here a few weeks ago taking the regular VIP tour, and when I found out they had this Deluxe tour, I had to sign up for that.
Look,if you enjoy movies and/or television, and want to see what a real working studio is like (no trams, no fake or staged productions), you must do this tour.
There's a nice waiting area on the first floor of the parking structure. At about 10:00am, a gentlemen comes around to walk us across the street to go into the main gate - Gate 2. We had to go through a metal detector, and then get on an extended golf cart for the trip across the lot to the tour offices.
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The tour office is not anything like it was back in the 80's, when they only had two tours a day out of a dark, dingy office. Now there's a huge waiting room with costumes and props from ER, Drew Carey, West Wing, Smallville and Gilmore Girls. There's also a little store (but this being Warner Brothers, it looks like stuff that was in the old Warner Brothers Studio Stores).
At 10:30, we are called into a small theater to watch a quick video about the studios and listen to the rules and regulations about the tour. Then one of the tour guides -
Dean Ricca - calls out three names. It's me and 2 ladies from Atlanta. The three of us are going to be on the Deluxe tour! Cool! The small, intimate group should allow us to do some pretty neat things!
One of the major rules - photography is extremely restricted. Movie people are possessive about copyrighted material. Our stuff will be locked-up in our golf cart and we'll only be able to bring them out at specific places. Nuts.
All of the tour groups get into stretched gold carts. Dean has a little gift for us - our own bottle of water for the day. Our first stop is at the Warner Brothers Museum. Its a really nice small museum that has a lot of costumes and props in it. - Like an entire George Clooney area (with costumes from Ocean's Eleven like George's tuxedo, Julia Roberts' gold gown and Brad Pitt's ugly shirt and jacket, his Batman cowl, his costume from The Perfect Storm... hey, did you know they're making Ocean's Twelve?), the Time Machine from The Time Machine (apparently, the thing was pretty dangerous when it was in operation with all of the spinning panels on it. They had to make a 15 foot safety area around it and no one was allowed inside that area otherwise they could get severely injured), the laptops from You've Got Mail, costumes from The Matrix and Christopher Reeve's Superman, a fake Haley Joel Osment and a "David" box from Artificial Intelligence: AI, and the crucifix from The Exorcist (creepy).
The 2nd floor of the museum is all from Harry Potter, like Hagrid's outfit with sling for baby Harry when he delivered him to the Dursley's, boxes and boxes of wands, Dobby the house elf, the set of Harry's room under the stairs, a petrified Hermione when she was in the hospital (spooky!), and Quidditch costumes and the carrying case for the balls and snitch. They had a "working" Sorting Hat that a security guy would place on your head to sort you into the different houses.
We left the golf cart at the museum and the rest of the regular tour people and walked down a street (are these things called "streets"?) to the Eastwood Scoring Stage. This is where scoring is done for productions. (yes, it's named after that Eastwood). It's a gorgeous, wooden stage. Acoustically, it was dead in there - not a single echo or reflection from anything. They were setting up for a recording session. Dean thought it could have been for Matrix Revolutions, even though it's going to be out in just weeks. Did you know that the musicians that play on these soundtracks don't get the sheet music until they sit down to record the piece?
We walked next door to Dubbing rooms 3 & 4. Because it's a working studio, Warner Brothers rents out facilities to anyone. Today, people from Disney were in house to do sound editing on the Saturday morning cartoon The Adventures of Lilo & Stitch. Since we were such a small group, the engineers sat around and talked with us for a while. Then, one of them took us to the "back room" (since the group was small), to show us the equipment used for editing. They're finally starting to edit all digitally, using swappable hard drives. But they still have to keep old analog equipment (including old film audio equipment) because the booming international markets are having studios re-edit existing productions for dubbed versions. They also had an "ISDN Room" which, from a technology perspective isn't that impressive, but from a production value perspective sure is. In the other dubbing room, techs were editing an episode of Third Watch. The ISDN Room allows the editing to be done in Los Angeles while the cast and crew are filming in New York. They use it to view the edits as well as doing ADR work with the actors (ADR is Additional Dialog Recording, or "looping").
We walk back to our golf cart and Dean takes us around the studio property. We can see a lot of construction going on inside a few of the stages. We pass by the ER stage. It's all buttoned-up, but I see a few women walking around in scrubs outside. All of the active stages have tons of trailers outside of them for the actors. They're all from the same company: Star Waggons. Why is it spelled that way? Why, it's because the owner is Lyle Waggoner from the old Carol Burnett Show.
We pull up to Stage 17. Dean has a master key to all of the stages and we go in. It's dark and it takes time to adjust to the light. We walk up some stairs and we're sitting in an audience area for The Drew Carey Show. They're not in production today, but it gives us a chance to sit and talk about a typical weekly sitcom production. The sets are all lined up in a row in front of the audience, with (from right to left) the backyard, Drew's kitchen Drew's living room, Winfred-Louder, and The Warsaw.
We walk next door to Stage 14. Now we're in a hour drama (actually "dramedy") Gilmore Girls. This stage only has all of the new sets that for Yale. Normally, sets are made with paint that looks like wood, or paint that looks like wood flooring, linoleum, or paving. In these sets, it's all real. That's because they want to make sure the look is correct (so that Yale approves!). These are gorgeous sets - hallways, classrooms, dorm rooms, cafeteria (with real pads of butter that seem to be melting...). We get to see how "wild" walls work - the ability to fly a wall out of the way to allow cameras behind to get a different perspective of a set.
Back to the cart and we visit Stage 16 - the largest movie soundstage in the US. We're outside because the doors are open and set construction is going on inside for a new movie with Keanu Reeves called Constantine. The stage is over 75' tall and it has a 25' deep tank in the floor (The Perfect Storm was shot inside here). The stage wasn't always this high. It was a normal studio, but years ago (for reasons I cannot remember exactly) they decided to make it bigger. They had people with hand jacks at every major load-bearing point around the periphery. They had 4 drummers, one in each corner of the building. They started a slow drum beat, and on each beat each person ratcheted their hand jack. When the entire structure moved up 6 inches, they threw in a railroad tie. The kept doing this until it was over 25' off the ground. Then new load bearing walls were built underneath. There was still an inch or two difference between the new walls and the base of the old stage walls, so they brought in huge slabs of ice to put between the two and removed the jacks. As the ice melted, the stage settled on to the new walls!
Back into the cart and we ride all the way across the property. Dean is giddy as he tells us we're going to Transportation since he knows the people there. We walk into a building that is a very large garage and auto/truck repair place for the studio. We walk through a chain link gate and there in front of us is a large group of cars. Dean goes over to one and throws the cover off of it. It's the General Lee from The Dukes of Hazzard. It's an original and it's in working order. There's another one next to it, but it's being used for parts - the last one available for parts. Next to them are two limos under tarps. The taps have the Presidential Seal on them - yes, they're limos for The West Wing. There's a DC Police car and escort motorcycles as well. Then there's a vehicle under canvas that looks pretty damn big. It's a bit wider than normal but it must be close to 30 feet long. It seems to go up in the back, like wings. Dean pulls the cover off - it's the friggin' Batmobile!!!! This is the last one (from Batman & Robin). It's huge. The tires are custom - the tread is the bat logo. Unfortunately, it's not street legal.
We walk over to the prop department and look at tons of furniture in a 4 story building. Set designers were walking through looking for items and tagging them to use for their own productions. Every once in a while you pass a piece of furniture that is so unique and it seems so familiar and yet you can't figure out what it's from. There's a pair of lamps that were listed as "Tiffany-style" that were used in one of the Batman movies. After they were hung, one of the art people took a good look at them and actually find a real Tiffany mark on them, They're no longer available for rental.
It's already 1pm and it's time for lunch. We jump in the cart and ride over to the Studio Commissary. We have passes for a complimentary lunch, so we head inside. The facility has only been open for 3 weeks. It's a gorgeous facility (as commissaries go), with many "stations" inside. The most popular one is "Paquito Mas" which is a mexican food chain, which is not included in our complimentary lunch. We all go to the Pasta bar and I get some Penne with a Tomato & Garlic sauce. Damn, that was good. I'm impressed. As we're sitting at a table having lunch,
Sherry Stringfield came through the line. She looked great, and looked shorter and thinner in real life than on TV (could be the white coat she always has to wear). After lunch we saw Jon Cryer walking into the Commissary.
Dean has been working the radio. He's trying to get permission from a production company to gain access to a set. We start driving around the lot when the radio crackles to life. We are given clearance. We head across the lot to Stage 23. It looks like just another soundstage... until we turn the corner on the back side. The exterior of the stage is... the side portico to the White House. We're going to see the set for THE WEST WING! Outside are the Star Waggons for the stars. There are 2 Jamaican flags flying over Dulé Hill's trailer, and a flamingo wind whirligig thing over Allison Janney's trailer (remember - her character's Secret Service code name is "Flamingo"). There's also a basketball hoop and a huge deck with chairs and tables for R&R time.
We walk into the "White House". The set is dark. The cast and crew are at another facility shooting scenes inside the Air Force One set. This side entrance is alongside C.J. Cregg's office.. We step into CJ's office. There's no goldfish on the desk, but everything else is there, including briefing notes on the desk as well as "while you were out" phone messages from Josh. Dean points out something we saw at the Gilmore Girls set. All of the windows on the set can pivot. This allows the crew to tilt the windows ever so slightly to make sure the reflections doesn't show a crew or anything off-set. Take a look next time you watch the show - you'll see windows just slightly out of "flush".
We walk into Josh's office. Dean tells us a story of a congressman who visited the set and actually saw his name on the blackboard in Josh's office as voting "Nay" against some bill going through the house. In a twisted piece of reality, the congressman actually erased his name and put it on the "Yea" side, Then he proceeded to write a message on a yellow legal pad to the character Josh telling him why he changed his vote.
We walk through the bullpen, past Donna's office. The entire set all fits together so that you can have those long "pedaconferences" done in all one shot. Wow. We go into the Roosevelt Room. Apparently the real Roosevelt Room doesn't have all these french-style door in it. When real White House staff people visit, they always ask why there's all those people walking around outside the doors. I guess either they never see them or they just don't have the people walking around in the real place. The Mural Room is across the hall. This room doesn't exist in the real White House, but was built for The American President. (Did you know that these are the same sets?) We see how the sets are lit using what look like spheres like paper lanterns. It diffuses the light for effect. Also, the set tops actually have a ceiling of muslin or canvas on top of them - something we haven't seen on any other set.
We go through another entrance and there is Charlie's and Deborah Fiderer's desks. There's a painting on the wall of an American flag done in kids hand prints. Apparently there have been a lot of letters asking where someone could get a copy of it. Turns out it's just something that one of the art people put together with their kids.
So, if we're here, that must mean that if we walk through this door we're in... The Oval Office. Oh, this is friggin' cool. Then the three of us just had to do it.
We each took turns sitting in President Josiah 'Jed' Bartlet's chair. Sitting on the desk in front of the chair was that small book of the US Constitution. Not a great chair but what an interesting view!
We briefly walk through the door "outside" which is where that long outside corridor outside the White House is, usually where President Bartlet goes outside for a cigarette. The backdrop is actually a photo of the exact views from the same places in the White House. The Clinton administration allowed the crew to come and photograph it. In fact, underneath one of the bushes on the backdrop, you can see Socks the cat!
A guard comes over, saying he has to lock up the set. We quickly walk through the rest of the set. We brush by Leo's office door and we look in toward Toby and Will's office but it's pitch dark - it's the only set with a real acoustical tile ceiling. If you look, you always see the ceiling in the shots around those offices. We pass by that "Visitor's Entrance" lobby, with its marble floors (actually paint) and columns (which are movable) nd the Presidential seal in the floor.
Then, it's back out the portico entrance and we leave the set.
We drive off to "The Mill" Here's is were, under one roof, everything is built. Lumber shops, metal shops, plaster molding. It's all here in huge shops. Unfortunately, it's getting later in the day and the shops are pretty empty. The Scenic Art department is here, painting backdrops. It's a huge room that has a 35' drop on either side of the room. This allows the backdrops to be raised or lowered to paint - the painters never have to work on a ladder. We go into the basement to the Large Format Digital Printing shop. Here' instead of painting backdrops, here a large format digital printer prints backdrops and signage. this allows the use of digital images such as accurate photographs to be used. The printer looks like it's at least 10'-12' wide. When the piece is larger than that, a special microwave seamer is used to put multiple pieces together. Today, the printer is spitting out large advertising posters for Elf.
Our next stop is actually an appointment. Somebody wanted to meet us. We go to Costuming and meet Costuming Manager Elaine Maser. She's been doing costuming on productions for quite a while. We go into one of the large "Star" fitting rooms. We sit down and talk for at least 30-45 minutes about costuming and color palettes of productions. She even brought some wacky costumes for us to try on and "play dress-up with". I wound up getting into some Camelot thing (that looked more Moroccan than Camelot). Talk about feeling special, this was it. the head of costuming for Warner Brothers wanted to talk to us. This was so special, two other tour guides joined us so they could get the info as well. Wow.
We went downstairs. Here was the costuming "lockers" for all of the shows in production. We peeked into a few of them. They're about the size of a semi trailer, full of costumes, each group clearly listed for each actor. West Wing has three lockers, one of which is just uniforms. I looked into another locker and saw Mathew Perry's wardrobe - could he be coming back to the West Wing? There's laundry areas down her, too.
We then went into the costume rental area. Each aisle is the length of a football field, 3 racks high with ladders. Everything is sorted into categories. If you need ball gowns, suits, maternity wear, men's fedoras - they're all here, all cataloged and inventoried. Rentals are either single week (this allows music video shoots just to rent for about a week of production) or 12-weeks. (They don't rent to employees for Halloween - Dean asked - though that would be wickedly cool). The end wall that we were standing in front of was all womens shoes, sorted by color, then size. The whole wall. This was a really cool stop. I didn't think I'd enjoy it but I really did. Elaine made us feel "special"
It's off to the back lot now. We have our cameras and everything looks like we can shoot what we want. The main town square area is all dressed-up for what looks like a Fall Festival of some sort for the Gilmore Girls. I think the place is called Stars Hallow (sorry, I don't watch the show). I remember the town square from O Brother, Where Art Thou?. Dean knows I'm from chicago, so he's excited as we go to the next exterior set - it's the exterior of County General Hospital for ER. Specifically, the ambulance bay. But we can't get into the actual ambulance bay area - there is a crew in there working on pyrotechnics for a hoot (hmmm... another explosion in the ER?) Good old Doc Magoo's is gone (it burned down last season), replaced by a convenience store. We go around the back side to a street area that is being set for an episode of The Practice (no pictures here). Next to the street exterior is a studio parking lot. If you look closely, there is a box painted across quite a few parking spaces. Looking at the backside of the sets, It turns out that this parking lot gets re-dressed and it's the helipad on top of County General. (Yes, this is where Romano lost his arm.)
It's time to go back to the tour office. Time? 4:45! It's the longest Deluxe tour they've ever run at 6 hours and 15 minutes. We say our goodbye's to Dean and catch another golf cart back to Gate 2.
OK people, listen up. If you are in the Los Angeles area and can carve out about 5 hours of time and can spend about $95, DO THIS TOUR. You will not be sorry.
Now I'm off to my hotel. I've got at least a 30 mile ride ahead of me...
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Saturday, August 30, 2003
Yo Ho, Yo Ho! A Pirate's Life For Me!
Fun, fun, fun, fun, fun! Went to the movies to see Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl. This movie just looks right. The story may be a bit light, but it had action and Johnny Depp was just great in his role. Hey - it's got Jerry Bruckheimer behind it! My recommendation? Worth seeing on the big screen.
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YO HO (A PIRATE'S LIFE FOR ME)
Lyrics by Xavier Atencio and music by George Bruns
Yo ho, yo ho, a pirate's life for me.
We pillage, we plunder, we rifle, and loot,
Drink up, me 'earties, yo ho.
We kidnap and ravage and don't give a hoot,
Drink up me 'earties, yo ho.
Yo ho, yo ho, a pirate's life for me.
We extort, we pilfer, we filch, and sack,
Drink up, me 'earties, yo ho.
Maraud and embezzle, and even high-jack,
Drink up, me 'earties, yo ho.
Yo ho, yo ho, a pirate's life for me.
We kindle and char, inflame and ignite,
Drink up, me 'earties, yo ho.
We burn up the city, we're really a fright,
Drink up, me 'earties, yo ho.
We're rascals, scoundrels, villans, and knaves,
Drink up, me 'earties, yo ho.
We're devils and black sheep, really bad eggs,
Drink up, me 'earties, yo ho.
Yo ho, yo ho, a pirate's life for me.
We're beggars and blighters, ne'er-do-well cads,
Drink up, me 'earties, yo ho.
Aye, but we're loved by our mommies and dads,
Drink up, me 'earties, yo ho.
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Wednesday, August 20, 2003
P.Sherman, 42 Wallaby Way, Sydney
Carol took the day off since we'd be getting home late last night from Varekai. We decided to take in a movie. Which one and where? Well, since it's broken records, we thought we'd better go see Finding Nemo, but we drove down to the AMC Cantera 30 in Warrenville. We got there for the first showing at 3:00, and got into the theater a lot earlier than we thought. In fact, we were the only one's in the theater and the projectionist was re-calibrating the projection system for quite a while before the movie. Anyway, the movie was great. There were some absolutely laugh out loud moments. Technically, Pixar is really advancing the technology pretty well. Water effects are not easy, and they've nailed it. The lighting and motion is getting better, too. This movie, even for adults, is a must see.
Thursday, July 24, 2003
Carol & I have been busy enough lately that we haven't taken enough time to go catch a few movies that came out that we wanted to see. Well, since my days are free, we talked last night about movie that I would be "allowed" to see. Those would be ones that Carol wouldn't care about if she saw them or not. On that list was The Matrix Reloaded. The problem is that it's not really playing anywhere. I found a 1:45 afternoon showing at the AMC Cantera 30 in Warrenville. It's a nice facility and the theater was empty. The movie... sucked. I understand why it didn't do as well as the box office. The effects were OK, but a rave in Zion? I don't get it.
Tuesday, June 03, 2003
I really wanted to get some things done early tonight so that I could make some attempt at catching up on my lost sleep, but I got absolutely hooked watching the American Film Institute's "AFI's 100 Years...100 Heroes & Villains" on CBS. It was a great show, and I have to say that I agree with everyone that was selected for the list, though I have one complaint with the ranking - though I love the character and agree that he should be on the list, I just don't believe that Indiana Jones should rank as the #2 hero character of all time. Here's a PDF from the AFI website of the press release of the list. What I hadn't planned on was sitting in front of the TV for 3 hours...
Saturday, May 31, 2003
Saturday Night at the Movies
Well, it's been a while since we've gone to the movies, and with it being Summer Movie Season and all, Carol & I decided to start catching up. We went to the AMC South Barrington 30 to catch the 7:10 showing of X2: X-Men United. The flick was OK - if I was allowed to enjoy it!!! This is the first time that I've been to the movies on a Saturday night with many 3 year olds! Either these people couldn't get baby-sitters or they were too friggin'' ignorant of their fellow movie goers to give a damn! 3-year-olds at an X-Men movie???? And you're expecting them to behave????? Oh - and then I had my first experience with a cell phone ringing and the guy answering and having a friggin' conversation at a normal speaking volume!!! WTF????? All of these years, and I've been lucky to never had experienced that... until now. So, I guess the movie was OK...
Saturday, March 08, 2003
Friends and movies
Barry & Buffy came over this afternoon and we finally got out to see a movie. We went over to the AMC South Barrington 30 and caught the 4:30 showing of Daredevil. Good movie. I don't know why I can't call it a great movie - I think it has to do with the Daredevil vs Kingpin scene. I'm not satisfied on how that played-out. Good action, though. The temperature outside must have dropped at least 20 degrees. The driveway was slick from the rain turning into ice, so getting into and out of the car was a bit daunting. Back at the house, Carol cooked-up a great dinner of beef tenderloin with tarragon butter, the scallops that she made for me last month, new potatoes in olive oil, garlic and onions, and a nice salad. To top it off, she actually baked a gingerbread cake. (She's more of a ersatz chef, not a baker, but this turned out pretty well.) After dinner, we did a DirecTV Pay-Per-View of a movie that we hadn't seen - Signs. OK, now that was a great movie. The surprising thing to us was the use of humor in telling the story. I think I would have liked to have seen it in the theaters. Anyway, it was nice having B&B out to the house.
Saturday, January 18, 2003
The Fellowship of the Ring
Spent the afternoon watching a TiVo recording of The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring. Oh, boy, I am out of the loop on this. I have read the trilogy back in High School and loved it. I watched the movie this afternoon and hated it. I'm still trying to figure out why. Perhaps the trilogy has lost its luster on me over all these years. Perhaps its because (I feel) the CG effects, specifically any in dark scenes, look like crap. (I've always felt this about watching a movie on television. If I see it in a theater, though the image is much larger, the color rendition and contrast is different and the effects just seem to work better.) Perhaps it's the friggin' length of the movie (178 minutes... God the special expanded edition is 208 minutes) that has a story with so many details, that I found it tiresome. Perhaps it was the audio levels that were all over hell and back that made it uncomfortable to listen to with a furnace and humidifier turning on and off, masking the lower levels and frequencies. Perhaps that gargantuan pork fajita burrito from Chipotle just made me too uncomfortable to sit for that long of a time (Ads on the website say "It would be a delicacy if it weren't so damn big", "Burritos so big they should be called burros", "Burritos the size of speedbumps" "20 ounces isn't the drink. It's the burrito", and my favorite "Ours goes to eleven"). Perhaps I'm just an idiot and wasn't in the mood to watch this thing in the first place...
Saturday, January 04, 2003
Harry at the movies...
It's a good time to start catching-up on our movie viewing, so it's off to the AMC South Barrington 30 to catch Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. Well, 3:50 on a Saturday afternoon is still a bad time to see the movie, as a) it was a full house, and b) people are still bringing toddlers to see the film. This film, though good, is still much darker than the first, and there's just no friggin' way a kid that age is going to sit through a movie that's 161 minutes long. Toddlers just don't understand "movie theater etiquette". Use some judgment, people. Oh, and we went out afterward for my birthday dinner at... umm... Steak n Shake (Hey, it was my choice) and came home and watched Hildi go nuts again on Trading Spaces.
Friday, November 22, 2002
Stadium Seating illegal
Just a few hours after coming home from the AMC South Barrington 30, I was watching the Channel 5 news and saw a story that said a federal court in Los Angeles ruled that AMC "violated the Americans With Disabilities Act by offering patrons who use wheelchairs and their companions only inferior seating in the front rows of its new stadium-style movie theaters." The wheelchair accessible seats were in use during the movie, and though they were on the main floor, they're still almost a dozen rows from the screen, but this was one of the larger theaters. I can't imagine how they're going to redesign the theaters to comply.
Bond, Ja... aw hell, you know the name...
Just got back from the AMC South Barrington 30 and Die Another Day. It's been over two months since we saw a movie. (First off, before the movie, we saw a trailer for a movie whose title was so unique that it just sticks with you: Bulletproof Monk. Also saw a trailer for Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle and the place almost booed and threw things at the screen. It sure didn't look like something I'd run out to see.) Well, after 40 years, it's still a good ride. The movie has the same trademark opening chase/disaster/escape (this time - GASP! - no escape!), the trademark opening credits (and Madonna's theme song isn't that bad). Halle Berry was great (and looks great). John Cleese picks up the mantle of Q perfectly (from Desmond Llewelyn, who died in an accident December 19, 1999. Did you know that in The World Is Not Enough, Desmond Llewelyn was Q but John Cleese was R? And Why "Q"? Because he's the Quartermaster.) Even Moneypenny (Samantha Bond, of all names) has a cute scene at the end. Best scene - a fencing match that gets way out of hand. Things are stretching a little bit, though. A plane stays in the air - intact - for way too long during a critical segment of the movie. Also, I was dissapointed that the director has stooped to using slo mo shots of fight scenes and other optical effects just to try to reach the level of some of the other movies that we have been accustomed to seeing. This Bond, for cripes sake. He doesn't require these effects. 40 years, 20 movies, 5 Bonds (6 really) - he still has it.
Saturday, September 07, 2002
White Sox 2 - Indians 4 (Oh, and Gracie, Greeks and B&B)
Time to pack-up Gracie. She looked a bit confused this morning, almost like she knew something was up but couldn't figure out what it is. But, then again, I think that Gracie's just not wired right. We got her packed up in the car and she just wouldn't settle down. She also didn't seem to recognize the neighborhood around my parents house. Odd. We got there and as soon as we walk into their house, she went nuts. Chelsea and her started wrestling as soon as they saw each other, like they missed it other. We couldn't stay long, since it's a baseball day and Fox has the coverage, so it's an early start.
At Comiskey, it's time to play the Cleveland Indians again. Seems like we just saw them, but that was back at the beginning of July. I mentioned back then how I didn't like their fans, but they didn't show up to cheer their team. This time, nobody showed up to cheer either team. The place was empty - 16,622 paid. It was hot and humid. We had to drink lots of fluids to stay on top of things. The shade didn't get to us until 2 o'clock, which is at least earlier than in June/July when it's 3 o'clock. Anyway, Carlos Lee had a home run, but that was it for the team - Sox lose 4-2. Sad. Jon Garland didn't look too good, not like the complete game shutout I saw him pitch a few weeks ago.
After the game, we went up Lake Shore Drive to Wrigleyville. I'm not getting used to seeing the construction at Soldier Field. It just doesn't look right. The seating "bowl" is huge. It looks pretty damn awkward, sort of out of place. Anyway, we went to pickup our buddy Barry. We met Buffy up in Evanston to go to the Evanston Century 12 to see My Big Fat Greek Wedding. What an absolute fun flick! A Must see! The other cool thing is that it was only made for about $5 Million, and it was the 2nd highest grossing film this weekend! I didn't know it was filmed in Chicago.
After the movie, we went to the Davis Street Fishmarket. OK, this was a delight (I'm starting to sound like James Lipton...). I really loved this place. Loved the service, loved the food. Our girls got roses on the way in (have no idea why). Need to go back again. Highly recommended. Between the movie and dinner, it was a great evening. When we got home and picked-up the mail, we noticed we got out check from White Sox Charities! Thank ou again, Elvis! Except for the Sox losing, it really was a great day.
Friday, August 23, 2002
If you haven't seen it yet, check out this trailer for a new film called Comedian with Jerry Seinfeld. I just love the trailer... you finally get a chance to see that "Movie Trailer Voice" guy... (have no idea if the movie is any good).
Tuesday, August 06, 2002
I just got back from the AMC 30 in South Barrington. I wanted to see a movie that Carol didn't want to see, so I caught a matinee of Austin Powers in Goldmember. I love walking into a theater just before the trailers start running and be the only person in the theater. Total number of people at the movie (including me): 6. The opening "Movie-within-a-movie" segment was hysterical. The rest of the movie really did have it's moments, but felt too much like there were specific gags just sewn together. There were two ladies sitting in the row behind me that I thought were going to wet themselves during the movie because they were laughing so hard. (It was funny, but not that funny).
Wednesday, July 03, 2002
And so you're back, from outer space...
Just got back from Men in Black II. The film was OK. There were some nice, funny moments, but I came away feeling like something was missing. Something like heart, depth... something. Most of the reviews I've seen gave the movie two stars. That's just about right. Frank the pug got quite a few laughs from the crowd, which reminds me - it's been a while since I've been at a movie on opening day. I like seeing a movie with a crowd on an opening day. It's a totally different feeling to viewing the movie, usually a positive one as everyone reacts - for the first time - to what's happening on screen. Used MovieTickets.com's Automated Box Office machines - ATM's for tickets. This was way too easy to use. I need to start using this more often instead of waiting in lines or getting there earlier in the day to get tickets.
Tuesday, July 02, 2002
Hmmm... looks like we're going to see Men in Black II tomorrow night. I just went on MovieFone.com and ordered the tickets through MovieTickets.com. Guess I'll see if those Automated Box Offices actually work. Can't wait to see the movie!
Sunday, June 23, 2002
Went back to Streets of Woodfield to go to the Loews theater there. It's not normally a place we go, but we have gift certificates, so this is perfect for being on a budget. We went to see Minority Report. Another great Spielberg picture. What did I like? Everything, but specifically for a film to be set 52 years into the future, the day-to-day technology used was (I think) very plausible (ignoring the existence of "pre-cogs" and the technology to "read" what they "see"). Well, except when I see Ed Witwer (Colin Farrell) sit down at John Anderton's (Tom Cruise) desk/cubicle... and realize that's the last cube/desk I had at marchFIRST!!! I'm not sure about retina scanning from the distances that were shown (like for the custom advertising, which I totally believe will come some day. I even thought the cereal box was pretty cool, too.) So, what do you do for a cheap meal after the movie? Why, popcorn chicken from KFC, of course!
Saturday, June 01, 2002
Jasmine and clones
We decided to spend the day with our buds, Barry & Buffy (or B&B as we sometimes to refer to them), taking in a movie and having some dinner. We dove into the city, into Wrigleyville to go and pick them up. When we called them from the car (we were just going to wait outside and have them come out), Buffy said to double park the car and come in. B&B's brand new granddaughter, Jasmine, was over for a visit. We had to go in and see her! She was beautiful - all sacked out taking a nap on B&B's bed. Of course, mom Kim was there, too, so we had to chat a bit. And, well, I had to take some pictures because she was just so damn cute! What a gorgeous little baby. Well, we had to get going, so Jasmine got "packed-up" and all six of us left - well, only four of us drove back up to the Evanston Century 12 again, this time to catch a matinee of Star Wars Episode II - Attack of the Clones. I'm starting to like the theaters - good concessions, good seating (gotta love that Stadium Seating), and free parking (with validation). The movie was great. There's something about seeing those famous little words at the beginning of the movie, those same words that we saw 25 years ago. I think that you couldn't tell that the film was shot using digital video instead of film. The special effects were very good, and even though there were a ton on digital sets, they were well done. There seemed to be a lot of pieces that reminded me of other movies, like Blade Runner for the city/planet Coruscant, a little bit of Gladiator, and I thought that I saw a little Mr. Miyagi in Yoda at least once... There was a large group of pre-teen girls that were sitting in the row behind us, usually chatting throughout the movie. Fortunately, they were pretty quiet, but every once in a while you can hear what they were say. For instance, when Anakin would show a bit too much anger for a young padawan, I could hear one of the girls say "What is his problem?" And then there was the scene with Anakin and Padmé - wearing that black corseted dress - that was dimly lit in front of a fire. As soon as the scene started it was really quiet in the theater and then I heard from behind me this quiet "oh oh". Carol and I struggled from laughing out loud. After the movie we went to Sam's Club, so B&B can do some shopping. Then back to Wrigleyville (which was a bit of a mess since there was a 3:05 Cubs game), and then a brief walk down Southport to go to Red Tomato for dinner. On the way there, we passed a toy store with these cute ladybugs in the window. We had to stop, as Buff wanted to but one for Jasmine (it wound up having a chime ball inside of it - pretty cool). Dinner at Red Tomato was great. We all had to get the carpaccio for the appetizer - we had been thinking about it all day. Had a good meal - I had something that was actually called a "stir fry" which was beef and potatoes - it was very good. We walked back to B&B's and watched most of Jurassic Park III on cable, had some apple pie (from Sam's) and finally left about 9 o'clock. I don't know what it is, but I love having friends that we could just spend the day with and have a good time the whole time.
Saturday, May 25, 2002
Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man
Saturday, March 09, 2002
Pay per view
Barry & Buffy just left. We had a great evening with them, just sitting around and talking. Carol made a great pasta dinner, and we did our first Pay Per View movie ever (either DirecTV or cable) - Rush Hour 2. Fun movie. The four of us were in Las Vegas a year ago Monday, and they were still finishing shooting at the Desert Inn - which was transformed into the Red Dragon Hotel & Casino for the film. Just seems a short time between shooting it and watching it on Pay-Per-View. Spent a lot of time on the IMDb trying to figure out who was in what movie. The house was making a ton of noise because of the wind. Had a big candle wax problem - had one of those big 3-wick jobs sitting on top of one of my Bose speakers break open an pour hot wax down the front. Crap. I have no idea how to get this wax of the speaker material.
Speaking of Las Vegas, B&B are leaving for a short vacation on the 30th. They're staying at Harrah's and flying Our Favorite Airline to Las Vegas™, National. I am so jealous and envious! We've been going to Vegas together every year (sometimes, twice a year) for a while now (since May '97) and it just feels weird not going with them. I mean, we'd go together, but it's really my fault - I don't have a job, so we don't have any money. Crap. Well, I hope they have a good time. Seriously. And I hope that they won't feel guilty about doing things there just because we're not with them. We talked a bit about this, and I know they, too, feel weird about us not being there with them, but they should have a good time on their own. We'll be there together again... someday...
Monday, March 04, 2002
A Man of Constant Sorrow
OK, it's damn cold... it was -6° this morning. It was just 61° on the 24th. This is nuts. Everything outside is frozen solid. The sun is out almost all day, and it slowly warms up. The neighborhood streets still suck - they never really got "clean". Then I look out the window tonight and it's snowing again - everything is covered. Again.
Had a chance to just watch some TV tonight with Carol and Indy. We watched O Brother, Where Art Thou? on Starz!. What a hoot! Great movie, great performance by George Clooney. Apparently, Indy (our bunny) didn't enjoy it as much. She doesn't like music, especially vocals with harmonies. She took off early to spend the rest of the time in her bunny condo, ignoring the movie and napping.
Saturday, February 02, 2002
B-52 and a movie
Carol & I left to go get some Chianti (which we've never shopped for before) to bring to Barry & Buffy's house. I pull out of the driveway and look up into the sky and see something I have only seen on television.
Over the skies of Afghanistan.
I remember seeing perfectly circular contrails in the skies over Afghanistan being made by B-52 bombers as they circled, providing cover. And now, over Chicago. The same circles are in the sky. Perfect, large circles, about six of them, the older ones dispersing and moving east with the wind. Perfect circles. We watched the last circle being completed, when the aircraft broke it's pattern and headed straight west, right over my house. Commercial aircraft don't do this. Not at this altitude. I've always heard about the military flying cover over the major cities. It's just something I've never seen. After thinking about this - I'm trying to rationalize what I'm seeing. When the plane came overhead, I couldn't identify 8 engines - a typical B-52, but they're 4 pylons of 2 so it would be difficult to see that from that altitude. I'm starting to believe that maybe it was a KC-135 providing refueling services for the aircraft flying cover. That would make sense. I mean, a bomber over the city? I hope not!
Headed over to Binny's to buy the Chianti. Found a good "end of bin" deal, and took off to go to B&B's for dinner. Buff's mom is recuperating there from knee replacement surgery that she had about two weeks ago. She's in her 80's and was moving around great (even though it was with a walker). You almost couldn't tell that she had the surgery. This joint replacement stuff is amazing. Had a nice homemade Italian dinner, and watched the movie Memento afterward. Wow, what a flick. I'm still not sure exactly what we saw, but we all loved it.
Tuesday, January 29, 2002
Geese and Satan
The geese are back... now I'm starting to think they're inviting friends...
Got the mail and saw a letter from Unemployment... lots of things run through your head when you see a letter like this, all of which have to do with losing your benefits. Turns out, it's just a letter saying that the calculation changed for calendar year 2002. Unfortunately, I made too much money during my 6 months of work last year for that new calculation to make any difference - I'm still at the max allowable.
OK trust me, the next two things aren't related (I don't think...)
We have to sit through another State of the Union speech tonight by George the 43rd. Look, I'm behind the guy absolutely 100% when it come to the War On Terror, but I never liked his domestic policies. I hope we start turning up the heat in the Philippines, and, after seeing Black Hawk Down over the weekend, I hope that Somalia gets "cleaned-up" as well, but the rest of the policies? Fahgetaboutit.
Now - not related (I don't think), the Mayor of Inglis, Florida (Carolyn Risher) issued a proclamation that declared the Prince of Darkness persona non grata. "Satan, ruler of darkness, giver of evil, destroyer of what is good and just, is not now, nor ever again will be, a part of this town of Inglis." Think the ACLU is happy?
Saturday, January 26, 2002
Mogadishu on the big screen
Wow. Another 52° day.
Barry & Buffy came over to visit. We went out this afternoon to the AMC South Barrington 30 to see Black Hawk Down. The only negative: it runs 144 minutes. Wow. What a movie, what a story. It's the true story of the Battle of Mogadishu, the longest sustained ground battle involving American soldiers since the Vietnam War. 120 American Delta units and Ranger infantry were dropped into Mogadishu, Somalia on October 3rd, 1993, to abduct two of Somalian warlord Mohamed Farrah Aidid's lieutenants. Instead, two UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters were shot down, and what was expected to take an hour lasted 15, resulting in the deaths of 18 Americans, 73 wounded, and hundreds of Somalians dead. Great cinematography. Great acting. Ridley Scott did another great job.
But the real real story is even more timely and hits home even more - you see Gen. Muhammed Farrah Aidid's people were actually trained, funded, and staffed by - guess who - BIN LADEN! Yep, the same bastard we're still going after 8 years later. If you happen to see the movie, think about that and see how it "colors" your view of what was going on in Moga (as the Rangers call it).
Went to this Mexican place, El Mason, in Schaumburg for dinner. Haven't been there since the 80's. Everyone seemed to enjoy it and sounds like we'll go back. Everyone had combo platters (Carol, Buffy & I each had the same one, that came with a half of a strip steak that was very tasty and tender).
Friday, January 04, 2002
Working out the kinks in the satellite signal on the receivers...