Photodump: The Cinema, Floors, TV Guide

Continuing to catch up, here’s a photodump.

We went to see Harry Potter 7.1 in the theater. I dislike the cinema experience, mainly due to the other people involved. Does nobody respect the call for quiet anymore? Stop with the texting, and talking, and crinkling, and asking, “Who’s that now?”

This was the bathroom at our local Regal. It was like peeing in space.

As for HP7.1, it wasn’t that great for me. I should have realized how much of it was sullen camping. They may as well have filmed the thing in black and white, what with all the washed-out filtering. Plus, how many times can you start a shot looking at the ground, then pan up to where something magical has just happened? Apparently, MANY times. Which certainly saves on the special effects budget. Here’s hoping 7.2 is more action-packed, and less dreary.

Not a photo, but a screencap from TV Guide’s site. Instead of subscribing to TV Guide, I just get the RSS feed. It’s actually MORE news than I got from the magazine, hooray.

The Good Guys appears to be ending for good, since it’s been huddled in FOX’s Friday Night Slot of Death since it came back (that same slot Fringe is headed for come January). But if you’re a TV writer, and you’re writing about a show that you like and are going to miss, please don’t refer to the character Dan Stark as “Don Stack”. That’s right up there with people who are telling you about their “favorite” actor or movie, then mangle the name. Which happens all the time.

Speaking of TV, eagle-eyed viewers/readers let Scott know that Adam Savage wore his Infini-tee on Mythbusters again. Thanks for this, BI readers! It tickles Scott greatly every time.

We visited Downtown Disney recently, and I fell in love with this carpet at the year-round Christmas store. If I have to have carpet (I’m not a fan), then why can’t it be cool carpet like this?!

The Best Roller Skating Movies Ever Made

I dig roller skating. And yes, there are movies all about roller skating, like Roll Bounce and Roller Boogie. But I really prefer movies that are about other things (political wranglings, dystopian futures) that just happen to have a boatload of roller skating involved. So here are three recently-viewed movies full of craptacular magic on 8 wheels.

#3: Rollerball (1975) – I haven’t seen the 2002 remake. I don’t think I want to see it, so the total cheese of the 1975 version remains at the forefront of my memory. James Caan as a sports hero? A moustachioed lotharo named Moonpie? And a roller skating game that ends in death? It’s all pretty awesome. My main problem is that there’s a lot of slow, slow portions. It’s almost as if Stanley Kubrick directed it. They could have cut a half-hour of boredom out of this movie, and it would have been so much better.

#2: Xanadu (1980) – We just got this via the Netflix. I hadn’t seen it for probably 20 years, at least. I remember loving it as a kid. There’s a lot of charming quaintness in this movie — the leading man’s job is to paint giant reproductions of record album covers for record stores. The movie takes place in a perfect movie version of Los Angeles, where all roads are smooth and skatable, and even the streets near the abandoned auditorium don’t have an ounce of grit or gravel to impede the skating. What I didn’t remember from my youth is that for every five lines of corny dialog, we then get a 10-minute music/dance/skate sequence. The music remains awesome, thanks to the 70s/80s majesty of ELO. But the leading man was an irritating wimp who needed a haircut, and I found it very strange that an artist’s unspoken dream would be to open up a roller disco.

#1: Solarbabies (1986) – This movie is, for me, an 80s classic. It contains a bevy of 80s teen stars, like Jason Patric, Jami Gertz, Peter DeLuise, and Lukas Haas. Not to mention a side character played by Adrian Pasdar, better known as Nathan Pedretti on Heroes. It even has the ever-creepy Richard Jordan as the scenery-chewing bad guy, Grock. The Solarbabies are a group of “orphans” living in an “orphanage” (I use quotes because apparently, the’re not actually orphans; they’ve been taken from their families to be raised in a government facility) in a futuristic desert (water is strictly regulated by said goverment) where all desert roads are smooth and skatable, and even the path through the desolate wasteland doesn’t have an ounce of grit or gravel to impede the skating.

The Solarbabies gang find a magical orb, and go on a fabulous journey. It ranges from a Bartertown-esque city to an underground cave city to the secret government water stronghold. And what amazing characters! Besides the handsome boy and the pretty girl, we have the tech guy with glasses, the chubby guy, the black guy, and their much-younger mascot friend. A marvelous motley crew! And let’s not forget the stirring synth soundtrack from 80s favorite Maurice Jarre.

To this day, I can’t not watch this movie. If I see it’s going to be on one of the weird crap-movie channels (we have one called “THIS” here in Orlando that always plays terrible films) I have to record it. I’ve probably seen this movie over a dozen times, just in grabbing it from random TV showings.

What other roller skating movies are out there? I tried to watch Whip It, and found it just as boring as the source book. Should I check out the 2002 Rollerball? Does it suck or rock? I’m all for corn and cheese, so bring on the badness!

Various Media

Today we finally were able to go out together and see Wall•E. As expected, I laughed, I cried, I enjoyed the crap out of it.

I also checked out the first act of Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog. I didn’t know what to expect from it, and so was pleasantly surprised. Scott and I discussed the fact that in the last couple of years, the bad-guy-as-good-guy has really taken off. Especially recently, with misunderstood evil genius types like in Skullcrusher Mountain or Soon I Will Be Invincible. It reminds me of the horrible 80s film Love at First Bite, where the “bad guy” gets the girl in the end. I always dug that ending.

Tonight is the premiere of Project Runway 5. I hope it’s a fierce, hot tranny mess.

Mooovies

I’ve watched quite a few movies on TV over the last few days.

Two Weeks Notice: Besides having a grammatically inaccurate title, this was an all right romantic comedy. Not fantastic, but not terrible. I don’t quite get why Sandra Bullock is so frequently cast as the awkward and slightly unattractive girl, but here it happened again. If you want a Hugh Grant romantic comedy, you’d do better with Music and Lyrics. B-

Only You: It was on one of the HD channels, so I recorded it. I remembered liking this movie back in the 80s, and it was still charming. I’m glad Robert Downey, Jr. is having a comeback — he’s even more attractive now than he was 20 years ago. B+

Enchanted: I finally forced Scott to watch it. Since buying the DVD, this was my third viewing. It’s just such a fun movie, and it both makes fun of and celebrates the classic Disney movies. A

The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters: This was Scott’s trade-off for Enchanted. It was awesome! Who knew a documentary about Donkey Kong would make me angry and sad and delighted all in one package? If you get the channel, G4 is running it several times over the next couple of weeks. A

The Cutting Edge 2: Go for the Gold: ABC Family is running this one right now. It’s a marathon — the original was on just before, and number three (I didn’t know they’d made a number three!) is on next. Number two is awful compared to the first, which was a decent romantic comedy. They’d also like me to believe that Chicago has its own Space Needle and its own Kingdome. I can’t believe they didn’t have stock footage of the Chicago skyline. C-

Several line items

1. Today’s our 10th wedding anniversary. Bring on the tin and aluminum!

2. Reality TV has been really good to me so far this summer season. My chosen favorites have won both Hell’s Kitchen and So You Think You Can Dance, and my first-episode favorite is still doing well on Rock Star: Supernova. I don’t have a favorite for Project Runway yet, but the guy I really disliked already got the boot. Haven’t watched this week’s yet.

3. I was going through my MP3s this morning, to make changes to my playlists. I came across some of the songs from the 70s cartoon movie Animalympics, and was just delighted. Man, I loved that movie. The music was done by Graham Gouldman, lead singer of the 70s wussrock band 10cc.

4. I was going to put in a movie and watch it, but “Shine On You Crazy Diamond (Parts 1-7)” just came on, so now I’m stuck listening to the awesomeness for 17-1/2 minutes. Like that’s such a chore.

5. Snakes on a Plane opens tomorrow, after a thousand-year wait.

6. The On-Line Guitar Archive is offline due to legal issues. I really wish I’d printed out all of my favorite bits of tablature, instead of just bookmarking them. Son of bitch!

Media du Jour

TV: I tried to get into the new show Windfall, but it’s an ensemble piece, and I don’t give a crap about most of the characters. Oh well, at least I have Hell’s Kitchen and So You Think You Can Dance and the not-too-awful Treasure Hunters to get me through the summer. And the new season of The Venture BrothersProject Runway starts THIS Wednesday. So get in from the beginning, it’s a great show — Emmy nominated! Did you guys know that there are now TWO reality TV categories at the Emmys? Both “Reality” and “Reality Competition”. Crazy.

Books: Right now I’m nearing the end of Philip Pullman’s The Golden Compass, which started out kind of slow but is now really good. I just requested a library hold for the second book in the trilogy, The Subtle Knife. I’d heard of the trilogy before, but never got around to reading any of the books.

Music: I’m in another Duran Duran upswing. I have my playlist stuffed with a dozen albums, extended singles, live versions, unreleased demos and various other Durantastic stuff.

Movies: I’m going to wait to see PotC, at least another week or two. I just don’t like the movie theater experience, more so since people get more rude all the time. The next big movie I’ll slog out to the theater to see will probably be Snakes on a Plane.

Games: We just passed the 50% complete mark on Sly 2: Band of Thieves, which makes me sad. The Sly Cooper games are so damn good, I wish there were more. Oh well, we can always replay through them in a few months, just like I did with Psychonauts. It wasn’t shiny and new anymore, but it was still very enjoyable. I love gaming as a team; one of us will play through a mission, but the other one helps by spotting.

Misc. Entertainments

I’m trying out some new shows from the summer reality season.

Hit Me Baby One More Time (NBC): Partly cool, partly scary. I was freaked out by A Flock of Seagulls — you could tell by his face that the lead singer (who I always want to call Mike Judge, but is really Mike Score) is the same guy, but the rest of him was totally different. Including his voice. It was horrifying. The other groups/artists sounded OK, and I’ll be keeping this show on the schedule. It does make me realize how amazing it is that the guys in Duran Duran all still look somewhat the same, and sound just like they did 20 years ago.

Dancing with the Stars (ABC): Most of the contestants, I don’t care about. Except for John O’Hurley, who I find fascinating. It’s like watching ice skating, but without the awesome falling-on-asses.

Hell’s Kitchen (FOX): Chef Gordon Ramsay is a huge asshole, and I love it. This is one of the better reality offerings from FOX, not quite as trashy as their usual offerings of brides-to-be and dwarves-in-love. Definitely a keeper.

Lost (ABC): So it’s not reality TV. Apparently they’re starting the season over again for summer reruns, so now’s my chance to catch up and find out if it’s really all that.

As for movies, we finally tried watching Napoleon Dynamite last night. Scott apparently found it really familiar and similar to his own high school experience. Me, I found it incredibly boring. We made it through half, then stopped the DVD. He’ll want to go finish it later, but I don’t care if I ever see the ending.

Upcoming entertainment: Scott’s sure to drag me to Batman Begins, which comes to the IMAX in less than a fortnight. Then July brings Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (also coming to IMAX) and Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince just a day apart. I’m not pre-ordering; with Order of the Phoenix, I just went to Target and bought it on release day. They had stacks and stacks. I figure this one won’t be much different.

Workplace Theater Presents…

Workplace Theater Presents: “The Star Wars Conversation”

CB: Coworker B
ME: Me
BB: Big Boss

BB: (on the way out the door) I better get these parking passes to the movie theater so they give me my Star Wars tickets!

(BB exits, approximately two minutes of silence)

CB: How is James Cameron able to do all of those Star Wars prequels?
ME: Uh, what?
CB: How can James Cameron make those Star Wars movies?
ME: What Star Wars movies?
CB: You know, those prequels that he did.
ME: I don’t know what you’re talking about, what prequels did James Cameron do?
CB: You know, the ones before the first ones, there was one that was “Phantom” something.
ME: Do you mean episodes one, two and three? That’s not James Cameron, it’s George Lucas.
CB: Oh, that’s right. (pause) So how is he able to do the prequels?
ME: What do you mean?
CB: Well, how did he get the rights to do them?
Me: Um . . . George Lucas is the original director and writer of Star Wars. He has all the rights already.
CB: Oh, huh!

FIN

Open up your mind…

Dragged Scott off today to see The Phantom of the Opera. We were going to see The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou afterward, but the 2:40 showing was sold out, and I didn’t want to hang out downtown for two hours. We’ll see it soon.

Anyhoo, back to Phantom. I’m a fan of the musical, so my expectations were pretty high. How did it disappoint me? Let me count the ways:

The girl playing Christine was the worst . . . lip-syncher . . . EVER. You sing in the studio with a ton of vibrato, you should probably let your chin wiggle. At least a little bit. Maybe it was the director’s choice, and if so, poor choice.

The Phantom was totally not grody enough. Even when you got to see his whole disfigurement without mask or wig, it wasn’t enough. And speaking of the Phantom, that guy isn’t a good enough singer for that part. He wasn’t awful, but the role was a little too challenging for him. Plus, the Phantom is supposed to be older. And the new backstory created for him? Lame.

Overall, song lyrics do not make good dialogue. In fact, they sound pretty darned stilted when just spoken. And if you’re editing a musical and take out a chunk, try to make sure you don’t show the next person who would have sung a line open their mouth and draw a big breath, then cut away abruptly. Tacky. But not quite as tacky as taking a haunting romantic duet (my favorite song from this show, in fact) and ruining it by having dancing mimes in the background.

I offer this film a 6 out of 10, based mostly on the nice costumes and sets. Which were still fairly overdone. I need to watch Evita to get the taste of bad movie musical out of my mouth.

Meanwhile, we got the packages from Best Buy — a DVD of Napoleon Dynamite in one, a Best Buy gift card in the other. Neither one has any indication of who they came from. Both my brother and Scott’s younger brother are potential suspects, since we haven’t seen any gift from either of them. It would be especially creepy if one came from one brother and the other came from the other. We haven’t seen Napoleon Dynamite yet, though my droogies all think it’s fantastic. Otherwise, a good Annual Gift Grab — there’s only a couple of things to return to the store.