Tag Archives: theatre

Wild

I loved this movie. Loved it. Loved it. Loved it. It could be that I harbor this desire to hike a big long trail like Cheryl Strayed did. Or it could be that I just like messing with outdoor equipment. Or maybe it’s inspiring for me to hear about people pushing beyond their limits. Regardless, this movie hit all those notes smack on! Continue reading

Unbroken

The story of Louis Zamperini is pretty awesome. The guy ran in the Olympics in 1936, then went to WWII, then crashed in the Pacific and spent like two months on a life raft, then got captured by the Japanese and spent two years in a prison camp, then forgave his captors and ran the Olympic torch through Japan when the Olympics were in Nagano. The movie, however, wasn’t as great as his life, in my view. Continue reading

Mockingjay Part 1

Gail and I see these Hunger Games movies reflexively. Same with Divergent. We didn’t read the books and we don’t have any sort of connection to the stories really besides the fact that our nieces like them. They’re just kind of cool I guess. It could be the big draw for us is sci-fi, which we seem to consume a lot on the screen but not so much in books. Continue reading

This is Where I Leave You

Round two of movie/Frank Lloyd Wright weekend with my mother and Gail included this movie on the big screen on a Friday night. Whoo hoo! This was an ensemble drama that was pretty decently funny and moving. In general, I like the family carnage style movies that occur with a big life event at the home of the parents and all of the siblings and their spousal types. Three recent ones come to mind. Continue reading

Prometheus

I wanted to see this thing straight away but didn’t get around to it until the weekend after July 4th. That’s about a month in so it was relegated to a very small theatre in the AMC 21 in Chicago, which resulted in me sitting closer to the screen than I have in years. I think it added to the effect.

This is horror sci-fi. Star Wars is sci-fi. The Shining is horror. Prometheus is both, with a somewhat shallow back story on the origins of life and failings of human beings. Screw the back story. This is an awesome futuristic action flick with tons of monsters, space ships, and evil humans.

The star is Noomi Rapace, from TGWTDT fame (Swedish version). She’s turned in to a must-see actor for me; anything she’s in from now on, I’ll see. Period. She plays scientist Elizabeth Shaw, who’s trying to find the origin of human life.

** PLOT KILLERS FOLLOW **

Rapace thrives in jarring, intense, uncomfortable scenes. The rape scene(s) in TGWTDT are such, but she went above and beyond in this movie for what I’ll call the semi-automated alien C-section. Yeah man, she had had to do some light programming via a touch interface to have an operating machine cut an eight inch incision in her abdomen, pull out a slimy, wriggling alien thing, and staple her back up.

** REALLY SERIOUS PLOT KILLERS FOLLOW **

This was difficult for her for various physical and emotional reasons. First of all, she couldn’t just pull up “C-section” from the menu because the machine was built for a man. Even in the future, I guess there are system constraints that prohibit having the whole surgical catalog in one app. It appears the current trend of declining memory chip pricing stops (or regresses) some time before 2080, making it cost-prohibitive to dump both male and female medical procedures on the same chip.

So there’s that. Then there’s the fact that Shaw was infertile up to this point in her life, so the joy of finally having a baby was quickly squelched by figuring out that it was an alien thing. That takes some emotional toll, which Shaw focuses on saving humanity.

Great stuff. I loved it.

It’s foreshadowed and hinted at, but you don’t really verify that this is an Alien prequel. It kind of slaps you in the face, though, when the man-squid creature rises out of a dead pre-human right before they roll the credits. Assuming it is a prequel, I’m not sure where Sigourney Weaver’s character Ripley comes in. It would have made it too easy to give Rapace’s character the name Ripley, but Ridley Scott didn’t go there.

I’m torn. Part of me wants to re-watch the Alien franchise, but that kind of puts things out of order huh? I’m going to sit tight until I find out what they are going to do with the sequel to Prometheus.

Moneyball

My third trip to the movie house this year was to see Moneyball. When I heard about it earlier this year, I has no intention of seeing the movie. I read the book and I’m kind of a sports snob, so I thought I was above it. Well, I feel like a fool. This was a cool, relaxing, and fun sports movie.

It’s amazing how relaxing a Saturday without any Notre Dame football is (bye week). Throw in a slow-paced baseball movie like this, sprinkle in the Lake Theatre in Oak Park, then add my wife and another couple, and you have the recipe for some serious slowing of the heart rate. I doubt I hit my BMR today.

In my old age, I’m watching more baseball. As a kid, when I collected baseball cards and could name the starting lineup of every MLB team, I never watched games really. Now I can sit and watch. I often have it on in the background when I’m working at home. It’s just comforting. I’ve probably watched more baseball this year than I have in five years or so. Heck, I have the Tigers vs Rangers game on right now and I could be watching Auburn vs Florida. Times change.

In fact, Ron Washington, a key character in Moneyball, is now managing the Rangers. The guy who played him, Brent Jennings, did a great job delivering a few deadpan comments about teaching Scott Hatteburg how to play first base. As I write this, McCarver and Buck are talking about Moneyball. McCarver is making fun of Buck for not seeing it. How coincidental is that? Not coincidental that McCarver is making fun, but coincidental that they’re talking about it on the day I saw it and I’m able to witness it because I’m not watching a big SEC football matchup in October.

WARNING: Don’t go into this movie thinking of it as a documentary. And don’t even go see it if you’re one of those baseball snobs, especially one who thinks those sabermetrics guys are fools. Just think of it as a dramatization of a single season based loosely on the facts. In that respect, it feels a lot like Friday Night Lights, which I loved. Suspend your disbelief and you’ll be greatly rewarded.

Pitt portrays Billy Beane, who is often credited for the first full implementation of running a low-cost but highly successful baseball organization using statistical analysis for an extended period of time (A’s, 2000-2006). This is arguable, but don’t try and argue it during the movie.

Sure, it’s highly doubtful that Beane had the leadership conversation with David Justice. It’s probably also doubtful that his ex-wife called him to tell him “great job” when the A’s were up 11-0 over the Royals in their quest for 20 straight wins. It’s a movie.

I left this movie fired up about baseball. I left this movie wanting to re-read Moneyball. I left this movie wanting to read more Michael Lewis books. I left this movie hungry because it was 3pm and I hadn’t had lunch yet. Oak Park to the rescue. Definitely worth the $6 (matinee).

Bridesmaids

It’s been 6 months since Gail and I have been to a movie house so we decided to catch a movie on this summer holiday weekend. We grabbed the 8pm Bridesmaids at Webster Place on a whim when a friend told us she was going, also on a whim. Lest you get the mistaken feeling that my life is full of whimsy, know that Gail and have been plotting to see a movie on the big screen for weeks but haven’t pulled the trigger.

We fire up Flixster some Fridays and ask the question, “Anything good playing?” Hmmm, not good enough to haul our tails to the complex. Premeditated movie going has been effectively replaced by premeditated watching of TV shows in iOS or watching of sports.

But when we got the call, we didn’t hesitate to scurry around and find keys, wallet, and sweatshirt for the quick trip to see Bridesmaids. The time was right to reacquaint ourselves with the movieplex. Glad we did it. It was really funny.

Kristen Wiig, whom I was completely unfamiliar with, wrote it (or co-wrote) and starred in it. It kind of makes me want to watch Saturday Night Live again, but I won’t. I’m not sure what inspired her to put in the Chicago/Milwaukee connection, but it worked well for me, as did the raunch-level. I laughed uncontrollably on a few occasions. Besides Wiig, the sidebar characters were really good. This woman named Melissa McCarthy killed it and Terry Crews (you’ll recognize him) had a great cameo.

See it. Okay to wait for rental though.

The King’s Speech

This was a great movie about King George VI of the United Kingdom. It portrays a snippet of his life from about 1925 to 1940 and focuses on his close relationship to a speech therapist named Lionel Logue.

The speech that the title takes it’s name from is a radio address that King George gave shortly after the declaration of war on Germany. It appears to have been a breakthrough performance for the king, who was a lifelong stammerer (a term they used in the movie). He delivered it with only few hitches under the close tutelage of Logue. Not only did Logue continue to work with the King after this, but he ended up being a lifelong friend of the King.

I left the Rose Bowl (Wisconsin vs TCU) at halftime to see this movie and I have no regrets. I figured heck, the Big 10 had already lost four games, so what were the chances of Wisconsin saving the day? Turns out, pretty good. It ended up being a great game, but this movie rocked. So I’m fine with the way things worked out.

History played an important part in this movie. It was a tumultuous time for the UK. Hitler was amassing military strength, Stalin was asserting his power, and the US was in the Great Depression. To exacerbate things, the rightful heir to the throne, King George’s brother Edward, wanted to marry a twice-divorced American (basically illegal). It was imperative for royalty to display political and idealogical leadership to the country during this time. In the end, Edward had to abdicate the throne to marry his love, so for the first time a King succeeded someone that wasn’t dead or near-dead. Which ended being especially stressful for a King lacking in self-confidence. But King George VI had a strong will.

Enter Logue, who was first contacted by the King’s wife (then the Duchess of York) in a last ditch effort to find a decent speech therapist after he botched the address at the British Empire Exhibition in 1925. Logue was portrayed as highly confident and unconventional. He treated the King as an equal and refused, at first, to call him your highness. Instead, he used the King’s nickname Bertie, which was unheard of. Logue’s confidence was grounded in his successful work with previous patients despite not having a doctoral degree. He seemed like an interesting guy.

This movie is an inspiring piece of history (or historical fiction, you never know how much these things are dramatized unless you’re a historian or an insider). It shows how the human mind can crack in professional situations under stress and insecurity, then emerge victorious. Let me put it this way – think of the toughest job, project, or client you’ve ever had. Then heap on the fact that you can’t quit, despite being in a little over your head – you are shackled to the job. Then throw in a boss, coworkers and family who constantly belittle you.

Do you crack under the pressure? Or do you persevere with a strong will while relying on friends and family to help you through it? Great story and awesome performances all the way around.

Starring Colin Firth, Geoffrey Rush, Helena Bonham Carter, and Guy Pearse. Directed by Tom Hooper.