Monday, January 29, 2007

The Summer of the Third (or so) Movie

Working in a Movie Theater part-time, I get to see lots of previews and posters for films that are coming out in the next couple of months. Recently, I started to notice a pattern. I knew that the third Pirates movie was coming out, and there has been a lot of press about the third Spider-Man movie as well. But then I was reminded that the Third Shrek film was coming out, and in the same month no less!

I decided to take a look at and see exactly how many Third Movies were coming out this summer. Imagine my shock when I saw that there were a total of SIX of them coming out between May 4 and August 10! When you add in a 4th movie in a series and a 5th movie in a series, as well as some first sequels hitting the screens, it turns out that there are 12 sequels coming out in a 15-week span this summer.

Let's leave aside the whole matter of originality in Hollywood and how there are no new stories to tell. My question is: Who is keeping up with all of these movies? There are a total of 23 movies leading up to the sequels coming out this summer, and I've only seen about half of them! And I'm a moive guy! And at $9 or $10 a pop? Sheesh!

Sure I can claim added responsibilities, direction changes in my life. I can even claim snobbery. But that is about to change. I am going to see all of these movies. I am going to see all the movies leading up to these movies, whether I've seen them before or not. I am going to get caught up on my vapid Hollywood franchises. And I will let you all know what I think. You can go see the movies anyway, if you want. I'm not trying to stop you. But I am going to bite the bullet and be the one who brings you some perspective. You can count on me, I'll be there for you.

And then next summer we can start on the Summer of Sequels 2...

If you want to play along, here are the release dates:

Spider-Man 3 May 4

28 Weeks Later May 11

Shrek the Third May 18

Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End May 25

Ocean’s 13 June 8

Hostel: Part II June 8

Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer June 15

Evan Almighty June 22

Live Free or Die Hard July 4

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix July 13

The Bourne Ultimatum August 3

Rush Hour 3 August 10

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Rest in Peace, Bill

I considered Bill Sturrup a friend. We didn't live near each other, we didn't talk all the time, but when we did get to talking or see each other again, we always seemed to hit it off. He was my first sort-of-"film"-friend outside of George Eastman House. Bill died on January 15.

I knew Bill as the President of the Toronto Film Society, a membership subscription group that honored classic films, both sound and silent, and created a community within the Toronto area for lovers of film. But I know he was much more than that. He was also the voice of the Hamilton Bulldogs, the AHL hockey team in his hometown. He worked the PA and apparently did a great Bulldog cheer over the speakers. Man, did he love to talk hockey. We related somewhat because the Rochester Americans, another AHL team was in my hometown. We were also able to talk about the Blue Jays, as he knew some about them. But hockey was really his sport.

He was also very active in the CrimeStoppers movement. I know he traveled all over the place with his wife to conventions. He was a crime beat reporter in his younger days and was very important to both crime and reporting in the history of Hamilton. As a matter of fact, the Police Department named a room for Bill in their HQ just the day before he died.

I know that he was a family man. I know that he had cultivated a successful marriage over thirty-some years or more and raised two children with his wife. And my thoughts are with them.

Maybe I'm not the only one. Maybe it seemed like Bill was a friend because he was like that with everyone. As I talk to more people and hear more accounts of his life, it appears he was one of those rare people that was able to like everyone. Never had a harsh word to say, even if one was deserved. But if this was true, then the world will miss Bill all the more.

Your crime-stopping days are over, Bill. There's no crime where you are now. I know you've got a busy schedule, what with films playing round-the-clock and people playing hockey all day, but make sure you take some time to relax. You deserve it.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Say What?

There’s a strange thing that happens to writers. They forget what they write. It’s not like they forget that they wrote a book or a short story. Or the titles of the stories they have roaming the wasteland of submission. But specific turns of phrase or descriptions come out of the blue sometimes (“the blue” being that level just below consciousness that really kicks into gear when you’re on a roll).

I was reading over my work-in-progress, making sure my “voice” was consistent and doing a bit of editing. There were several times where I asked myself, “Did I write that?” That’s a crazy question, as I’m the only one that’s been writing the thing, and it’s not made any more sane by the fact that I’d been talking out loud to myself. There was no recollection of thinking of those groups of words in that way, and it was as if I was re-discovering a lost side of myself. Granted, that side of myself has just as many attributes and flaws as my normal side does, but it was still a cool feeling.

The key now is to harness “the blue” and hone it, make it work for me. Use it on a regular basis and make it an extension of my consciousness. And learn how to end an analogy before it gets too obtuse.

Tuesday, January 9, 2007

Jays of Fame

Today it was announced that Cal Ripken, Jr. and Tony Gwynn would be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in July. With the 3rd and 7th highest percentages ever recorded for an induction ballot, their entrance was pretty much guaranteed. Again, there were worthy candidates left to see if they would ever be considered good enough to attain this immortality. The fact that players like Andre Dawson, Jim Rice, "Goose" Gossage and Bert Blyleven are not considered worthy is beyond my comprehension. It seems to me that, despite getting Gwynn and Ripken right, the Baseball Writers Association of America is a gaggle of grumpy old white men, squeezing whatever power they can out of their assigned "responsibility."
Lost in the hubbub of those that got in and those that got close, was the fact that there were two players eligible that likely would have gone in as Blue Jays: Devon White and Tony Fernandez. Now, while it's neither robbery nor an upset that neither one was elected to the Hall, it is disconcerting that neither one even garnered the 5% necessary to stay on the ballot for next year. (Fernandez got a total of 4 votes on the 545 ballots, White not a single one.) Dave Winfield (big hit in Game 6 of the 1992 Series) and Paul Molitor (MVP of the 1993 Series) have both been inducted in recent years, but neither as a Blue Jay. (And rightly so.) Who, then, from the core of those Championship teams, will represent the Blue Jays in the Hall of Fame? The two most recognizable faces from those teams are Joe Carter (who has already been eliminated) and Roberto Alomar, who had an unfortunate altercation with an umpire that seemed to outrage America. Alomar, probably the most worthy of all Blue Jays, will likely be hurt by what the writers see as Character Flaws. To wit: we don't like him and we won't give him admittance to a place he deserves to go because of it.
The answer, then, is no one. There is no one else on those teams that has the stats to make it into the Hall, and certainly no one else that would be considered a Blue Jay first and foremost. It may be 30 years before we see a Blue Jay elected to the Hall of Fame. After all, we're still trying to elect the best players from the 70s.

Sunday, January 7, 2007

Boys With Toys

We moved into our new house about 6 months ago. It was 8 or 9 months prior to that that I took down the surround sound at the old house and started working three shifts at a second job. This weekend, I finished setting up the surround sound at the new house, connected to the 53" TV that came with the house. Suddenly, not only do I have a little more time to actually enjoy my home theater, but everything is new again. The picture is bigger, the sound is better, there are DVDs that have lain untouched in my collection.

I was literally dancing around in the basement as I tested out the connections on the Bonwit-Teller explosion at the beginning of Die Hard With a Vengeance. My wife said I reminded her of a little kid that just got a new toy.

She couldn't be more right. Sometimes I stand in front of my DVDs trying to decide what to watch. It's a particularly tough choice if it's late at night. What if I get tired and can't finish the movie? It deserves more respect than that. It will completely break the rhythm of the piece if I try to watch it in two parts. It's a sickness, really.

I have another sickness. I love extras. I love them all. I want to watch them all. Just ask my wife, who patiently cross-stitched her way through my systematic evaluation of the Alien Quadrilogy. There are two cuts of each of the four films. Plus commentarys. Plus feature-length documentaries on each one. Plus galleries.

But now I have to watch it again. It's bigger now. The space is cut off from all light sources if I want it to be. It's a true home theater. That means it's a new experience. I'll have to start all over. If you want me, I'll be hanging the black velvet curtains to muffle the noise and light reflections off the side wall. My wife will be in the corner, shaking her head.

Saturday, January 6, 2007

Rumor Has It

My wife asked me the other day if I had any New Year's resolutions. There weren't any I could think of until I was laying in bed that night, thinking about my blog and how I could make it better. Then I realized, the only way to make it better would be to have content in it that people could read on a regular basis, which would require me to add content to it on a regular basis. So, I decided that my New Year's resolution should be to write in my blog every day.

That was four days ago. Nothing. What I've been doing is coming down from a hectic holiday season and relishing my reduced role in the consumer industry. In other words, relaxing. But that's enough of that already. I've got big plans in 2007, and I need to get them started now.

For instance, I want to watch more film this year (and more movies ;) ). I just hope that most of them are better than this one. I'll be catching up a lot on DVDs this year, as I don't get out to the cinema as much as I used to. This one was out in the theaters last year, and I thought I might be interested in sharing it with my wife. Apparently not.

Rumor Has It stars Jennifer Aniston as a woman who discovers that she is the progeny of the real people that the book and the film The Graduate was based on. Shirley MacLaine assumes the Anne Bancroft character and Kevin Costner is the Dustin Hoffman character, both 30 years older now. The problem is that Aniston's character, like many 28-year-olds, does not know who she is. This, stated plainly at the beginning of the film, may account for the film's lack of focus. She wanders around looking for something to give her meaning. It's not her fiancee (Mark Ruffalo), and it's not her family. Her grandmother (MacLaine) only confuses things when she blurts the main secret of the film. Aniston then blindly seeks out the Costner character, thinking that he may hold the secret to her meaningfulness.

This aimlessness inspires a distinct lack of structure, and instead of being taken along for the ride, we instead are living Aniston's joyless life along with her, where she puts herself in stupid situations and makes stupid decisions, throwing life's lessons against the wall to see which one might stick and define her. Since it's quite clear she doesn't know what she's looking for, we as an audience don't catch any of the road signs that this narrative is coming to an end, and instead, we just hope that it ends soon.