Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Raiders Of The Lost Ark

Back in the early 80's, I was at Reuben's Summerhouse, a once-popular (but now sadly gone) restaurant in The Valley, when I overheard a man talking excitedly to his friend about RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK (1981).  I was just a kid at the time, and wanted to go see what all the fuss was about.  Mom thought it was too scary, so I didn't get to see it when it was new.  Last fall, the Egyptian Theatre in Hollywood brought back RAIDERS and I went to see it there.  I didn't bother to write about it at the time, but now that it has been re-released nationwide by Paramount, I decided it was time to say a few words about one of my all-time fave films.
When I was a kid, even though I didn't see it in the theatre, I did ultimately see RAIDERS many times on VHS tape and CAV Laserdisc (which looked only a little better than tape on my old TV set).  When it appeared again at the Egyptian, it was shown in digital projection (presumably a prototype for the Blu-ray set).  Technically, the presentation was brilliant.  Beautiful photography, stunning sound, I can see why it won five Oscars (four regular awards, plus one Special Achievement award).  In terms of content, the film holds up well after more than 30 years.  It's just the kind of story that thrills audiences of all ages, and still holds a special place in my heart.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

The Thing 2011

A few months ago I went to see THE THING (1982). One thing I enjoyed about that movie was the way it showed hints about a story that took place before the film started. Well, now I saw THE THING (2011), and it tells that story. In fact, it connects the two movies so beautifully, I now have a greater appreciation for the '82 film. There isn't a lot I can say about the new movie without ruining it, other than Mary Elizabeth Winstead (Final Destination 3) makes a welcome addition to the series. My ultimate dream? A third THING movie with MEW and Kurt Russell teamed up!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Le Divorce

The first time I ever saw CHICAGO at the Loew's Cineplex Century Plaza Cinemas (which has sadly been torn down), I saw a trailer for LE DIVORCE. A romantic comedy starring Kate Hudson (The Four Feathers, How To Lose A Guy In 10 Days) and Naomi Watts (The Ring, Dream House), the movie's trailer is one of the best I have ever seen. Some who aren't fans of the movie might even contend that the trailer is better than the film itself. In any case, I was moved by the music in the trailer, particularly a song performed by Eartha Kitt called Je Cherche Un Homme. While I believe Ms. Kitt is the original performer of that song, I feel like it channels a little bit of Edith Piaf. Definitely a classic.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

The Greg Kihn Band Jeopardy

As some of you may have noticed, I have changed the header on this blog to include music as well as movies. While the main focus here will always be cinema, I do get the urge to talk about music from time to time. In this case, I have been reminiscing about JEOPARDY by The Greg Kihn Band. Released in 1983, the song was always fun to hear on the radio, but on MTV was where it really shined. Partly a wedding picture, partly a tribute to classic horror movies (with a special nod to GHOST STORY), the video displayed an imaginative use of the format, not often seen in recent times. Musically, the tune was the peak of the band's commercial appeal, and it endured long after their other songs were forgotten. A definite reminder of a much cooler time in the history of music videos.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

The Fly and The Thing Return To Hollywood

I recently attended a double feature of David Cronenberg's THE FLY (1986) and John Carpenter's THE THING (1982). The first film starred Jeff Goldblum (Thank God It's Friday, Invasion Of The Body Snatchers (1978)), and the second starred Kurt Russell (Escape From New York, Big Trouble In Little China). Both movies showcase directors and actors at the top of their game, as well as the special effects teams.
As far as horror-science fiction hybrids go, these films are loads of fun. In Cronenberg's Fly, the gradual transformation Goldblum's character goes through is both horrible and yet strangely beautiful at the same time. The same can also be said for the titular character in The Thing. Nothing in these films is wasted, either in terms of the gore or the acting.
Some people would say the original versions of FLY and THING are the only true versions, and that the remakes pale in comparison. I disagree. I actually found the remakes to be enjoyable in their own right, and stand on their own as great examples of classic cinema.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Tron And Terminator 2 Revisited

I recently had the opportunity to see the original TRON from 1982 in a double feature with TERMINATOR 2: JUDGMENT DAY at the Egyptian Theatre in Hollywood. I had already seen T2 in the cinemas twice before, but this was my first time for seeing Tron on the big screen. Tron was shown using a Blu-ray because the 70mm print was booked elsewhere and obviously couldn't be in two places at the same time, and T2 was shown on film. When I first heard about how Tron was going to be shown, I groaned. While most Blu-rays have incredible picture quality, I have seen a few titles from the early days of the format that would NOT look good if displayed on anything bigger than a 40 inch television screen. Because of various technical issues, a few of the first Blu-rays to be released had noticeable artifacts and pixellation. Thankfully, Tron is NOT one of those titles. Its appearance was absolutely beautiful. It had just the right amount of grain and looked very natural for a digital presentation. I can honestly say that, when a Blu-ray is done right, it will look great on even the biggest screen.
T2, on the other hand, has seen better days. The print that I saw looked rough, with a few too many scratches and other assorted glitches. The film appears to have broken and been spliced back together in several places, much to the amusement of the audience. While I am still a die-hard devotee to real film in the theatre, versus any sort of digital format, I have to admit the contrast between the presentations of TRON and T2 on that particular night was almost enough to convert me. In the end, I had a great time with both movies, and look forward to another double feature.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Losing That Big Screen Experience

There has been a lot of talk lately about how home entertainment, and in particular Video On Demand or Pay-Per-View, could cause the end of movie theatres. Might even cause the end of over a century of big screen experiences. As someone who has enjoyed going to theatres, and also was planning on going to work at one as a summer job this year, I have to admit I am biased. I am very partial to saving the Big Screen Experience.
Having said that, I can tell you that once a theatre is gone, it's gone forever, and so we have to ask ourselves how important it is to keep it.
There is something special about the movie-going experience that you can't duplicate at home. I have seen a number of films both at the cinema and at home, and I can tell you that even if you have a decent-sized TV and a Blu-ray Disc player, you will miss out if you can never go to the theatre again.
And while it is true you can't see a favorite movie at the Regal or AMC forever, and you will probably end up with a copy of it at home anyway, even seeing it on disc is more of an experience if it brings back happy memories of seeing it in a darkened cinema with your sweetheart. Or from a night out with friends. Or the time you took your kids to see their favorite film that they were just begging to see.
If theatres go away, so will those memories. And while you can make other memories at home, the ones you could have had at the local movie house will be lost forever.