Tag Archives: theatre

Far from the Madding Crowd

I love watching this kind of movie with Gail because I know it just brings her such joy. Ever since the mid 90s when she roped me into seeing Sense and Sensibility I’ve been a big fan of the Brit period piece. The word that kept popping into my head during this movie was sumptuous. It was well done.

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.