erik lundegaard

Movies - Theaters posts

Friday July 31, 2009

Before the Show at Pacific Place No. 2

Movie: “(500) Days of Summer”
Theater: Pacific Place
Screen: No. 2
Chain: AMC
Location: Downtown Seattle
Seated: 3:18 for a 3:30 showing.

Ads:

  • Blackberry Pearl Smartphone. Includes butt conversation. Classy.
  • U2: “Every generation gets a chance to change the world.” Or advertise in it.
  • Extended featurette for a new TV series by David S. Goyer: Flashforward: “It began like any other day...until 7 billion people blacked out.” Apparently we wake up knowing our future. And what do we do with that knowledge? And how much, if anything, can be changed? Etc. I probably won't be there for it, but...bon appetit.
  • Jeter, Federer, Tiger Woods, a dude trying to pick up a girl: “We all have confidence, we all have doubt.” But some of us don’t have to try to pick up girls.
  • Cube Mobile. Turns out it’s an ad for a car.
  • That Facebook thingee with the girl who can’t sing.
  • That Benjamin Bratt show, in which he saves addicts while “Hallelujah” plays in the background. I remember when that song was new. (More on this later.)
  • “What has search overload done to us?” Somehow Bing is supposed to help. That's like: What have all of these Big Macs done to us? Eat at Burger King.
  • A J.C. Penney whatever.
  • The dancing shark/Minute Maid thing. Is “Who’s gonna get the empties?” the best line they could come up with?
  • A bunch of bugs steal a bottle of Coke from a picnic and then crawl all over it. Num.
  • “First Look”: Actually second. It's a summary of what's just been advertised. In case you've forgotten.
  • Blowing up Mt. Rushmore/turn off your cell phone message
  • MST 3000 Fathom event ad: Thursday, August 20. Might be fun.
  • Magic Flute Fathom event ad: August 5. Might be fun.
  • Will Rogers Institute
  • “In case of emergency, walk, do not run, to the nearest exit.” These are new. Wonder what brought them on? What tragedy where? What lawsuit where?

Previews:

  • “Funny People”: “I think your grandfather went to hell” is one of the funnier lines I’ve heard in a trailer. I mean it. Despite mixed reviews, I’m looking forward.
  • “Time Traveler’s Wife”: In any love story, the dramatic question is: How do you keep the lovers apart? The solution here is to steal from Kurt Vonnegut. I.e., Eric Bana just got unstuck in time. “I can’t stay,” he says. “I know,” she says. So tragic. If he'd only stay they'd realize how much they don't want to be together. Nice to see you again, Rachel McAdams, but not in this.
  • “Love Happens”: Jennifer Aniston and Aaron Eckhart give the rom-com another go. His wife has died and he’s written a book about it, a self-help book, that’s sweeping the nation. He’s in Seattle for a book reading. She’s in Seattle. They click. They don’t. Their noodging friends push them together again. (Beautiful people in love are such pains.) He needs her. He confesses that his book is a lie. He probably comes clean. They probably get together. What’s the point of seeing this now? Now that they’ve given it all away?
  • “Julie & Julia”: I am so there.
  • “Taking Woodstock”: Fingers crossed.

Forgot my watch. Not sure when the movie started. But that's altogether too many ads. They're taking them from where they're needed (newspapers) and putting them where they're not wanted.

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Posted at 09:22 AM on Jul 31, 2009 in category Movies - Theaters   |   Permalink  
Tuesday July 21, 2009

Before the Show at the Uptown

Movie: “The Hurt Locker”
Theater: The Uptown
Screen: Just the one
Location: Uptown, Minneapolis, MN
Celebrated in: Prince’s 1982 song “Uptown":

Everybody's going Uptown
That's where I wanna be
Uptown
Set your mind free

Built in: The 1930s, after a fire destroyed the original Lagoon Theater. Another Lagoon, a multiplex Landmark theater, was built a block away in the 1990s. Landmark brags that the Uptown has the biggest screen in the Twin Cities but I can't believe it's bigger than the screen at the Riverview.
Operated by: The Landmark chain since 1978.

Memories: Too many to mention. I could write an essay on the number of times I went to the Uptown as a kid and teenager when it was a retrospective theater, showing double and triple features of old and recent films. Saw tons of Woody Allen there. Saw “Casablanca” for the first time and remember a few women hissing when Ingrid Bergman says, “You’ll have to do the thinking for both of us.” Saw “A Clockwork Orange” before I’d had sex and it probably screwed me up for life. Saw “The Man Who Fell to Earth” with my friend Nathan Katruud, and, as we stood in the lobby makng fun of the people milling about, I noticed one hipster dude and said he was probably thinking how everyone else was probably thinking he looked like David Bowie. Then I looked over at Nathan for confirmation—he was probably the funniest guy I’ve ever known—and his face seemed startled, as if I’d read his mind. He was in the early stages of rock-star fever. Eventually he changed his name and became Nash Kato of “Urge Overkill.”

Seated: 1:05 for a 1:15 showing. No ads, just alt pop playing (“Summer Number 39” by Roger Clyne and the Peacemakers), while floodlights bathed the screen in pinks and yellows and blues.
Lights go down: 1:15

Ads:

  • HDNet News. (British voice: “But what led your brother to become a suicide bomber?”) HDNet movies. (Demi Moore??? That’s a selling point?) Dan Rather.
  • Stella Artois: “C’est pour toi, papa,” etc.
  • The Palm 3 from Sprint. Apparently an ad for Facebook and a singer named, I believe, Joanna Gikas, as well. Do the advertisers know how off-key she sounds when she’s singing a capella?

Previews:

  • “Cold Souls”: “This is Paul Giamatti. And he has a problem.” So a character named Paul Giamatti sells his soul, then tries to get it back, but it winds up in Russia, where he travels to retrieve it. Amazing how both off-beat and familiar this thing feels. I guess it’s the off-beatness that feels familiar.
  • “In the Loop”: This movie opened the Seattle International Film Festival in May but it already feels old, doesn’t it? Feels like it should’ve been released last year. But if it gets good reviews I’ll go.
  • “The Cove”: A documentary about dolphin-killing in, particularly, Japan. “The dolphin’s smile is nature’s greatest deception.” Ditto.
  • “500 Days of Summer”: Tough girl, moony boy. Once upon a time, that was my story. Now? I’ll probably go—it’s gotten great reviews—but it’s no longer my story.

Movie starts: 1:28

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Posted at 08:49 AM on Jul 21, 2009 in category Movies - Theaters   |   Permalink  
Sunday May 31, 2009

Before the Show at the Neptune

Movie: “Up”
Theater: The Neptune
Screen: Just the one
Location: University District, Seattle
Chain: Landmark
Built: In 1921
Operated: By the Landmark chain since 1981. Remodeled in 1994. The Landmark Web site still touts this, talking up the “ultra-comfy seats with cupholders” when, after 15 years, the seats ain’t all that comfy, while bragging about cupholders is like bragging about Dolby Digital. Which they also do.

I used to think: Landmark, which operates several of the better art-house theaters in Seattle, was local, but realized my error sometimes in the late 1990s. It’s based in L.A., and was owned by Texas-based Silver Cinemas International until, after filing for bankruptcy in 2001, the company sold the chain to Texas-based businessman, and Yahoo founder, Mark Cuban in 2003. According to its Web site, Landmark is “a vertically integrated group of media properties co-owned by Todd Wagner and Mark Cuban that also includes theatrical and home entertainment distribution company Magnolia Pictures...” Question: On a site supposedly for moviegoers, why use the compound adjective vertically integrated? Total turnoff. On the plus side, Magnolia Pictures has distributed some of the better foreign films and documentaries in recent years, including “Man on Wire,” “Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room,” “Let the Right One In” and “Surfwise,” while Wagner/Cuban’s production company, 2929 Productions, helped make “Good Night, and Good Luck.”

Fond memories: When I first moved to Seattle in 1991 I lived two blocks away from the Neptune. Consequently I saw one of my first Seattle movies there (Todd Haynes’ “Poison”), along with probably the best double-feature I’ve ever seen (“Raging Bull” and “Goodfellas”). It’s where I realized that the Hong Kong craze had followed me from Taiwan (a packed house for Jackie Chan’s “Supercop” in 1993), and where I went with friends for the premiere of “Pulp Fiction” in October 1994. The line stretched around the block and we had to sit in the balcony. Fun.

Quirky details: The theater has a water theme, as befits its name, including stained-glass windows of a pagan nature. There's also a pitcher of water and dixie cups in the lobby for patrons. On the other hand: the concession stand is two steps from the box office, which creates a bit of a bottleneck as you’re trying to get in. But then it wouldn’t be Seattle if they didn’t sacrifice waiting needlessly for quirkiness.
Featured in: Cameron Crowe’s “Singles” (1992). Passing shot of the marquee during a montage of the city.

Seated: 4:23, seven minutes before scheduled showtime. No ads, just jazz playing. A rather loud boy keeps running away from his dad (or guardian) to the front row, which is way too close to the screen. I worry he’ll be a distraction during the movie but then think, “Well, it’s his movie more than mine.” Once the previews start I don’t hear a peep out of him.

Previews:

  • “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince”: Looks darker than ever, doesn’t it? Same director as the last one (David Yates) and for the first time the sorcerers appear to be entering the world of the muggles (us). That intrigued me. Some of the dialogue didn’t. “You’re the chosen one, Harry.” “Don’t you know who you are?” “Fight back!” Etc. The religious right has a problem with “Harry Potter” but these films, and the many like them, really play into the right’s worldview. There’s uncompromising evil out there. We are the chosen ones. And we have to fight back. It’s all getting a little tiresome. And dangerous.
  • “Ice Age Whatever”: Fox and Blue Sky Studios. Unlike the almost Looney-Tunes-ish short from a few weeks back, which I liked, this trailer gives us the usual pop cultural snippets: “Talk to the trunk,” etc. It’s all getting a little tiresome.
  • “G Force”: Disney and Bruckheimer. Special-agent guinea pigs are let go by the government and wind up in a pet store.
  • “Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs”: Hapless youthful inventor creates something that makes it rain...food. Hamburgers. Spaghetti and meatballs. Pancakes and syrup.
  • “X Games 3D”: Not a fan of X Games. Not a fan of 3-D. (It makes everything look smaller. It diminishes.) Pass.
  • “Toy Story 3”: June 2010.

Program starts: 4:43.

Ads: Zilch. Merci.

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Posted at 01:34 PM on May 31, 2009 in category Movies - Theaters   |   Permalink  
Monday May 25, 2009

Before the Show at SIFF

Movie: “L'Heure d'ete”
Theater: SIFF Cinema
Location: Pres de le Space Needle et sous l’Opera de Seattle
Operating: Since March 1, 2007 when the long-standing Seattle International Film Festival (SIFF), coming off record attendance, opened a 400-seat theater at McCaw Hall. There’s stadium seating but the place has the air less of a movie theater and more of a lecture hall. Which it is: the Nesholm Family Lecture Hall. It reminded me a bit of the theater at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, but, as befits Seattle, it’s more cramped, more claustrophobic. But I like the long blue curtains that parted before the movie began. That’s a fading (almost completely dead) tradition I’ve always been fond of.
Just who is the Nesholm Family anyway? Current architects and scions of one of the founders of UPS, which was—I just learned—founded in Seattle in 1907.
Arrived: A little before 4:00. Had to wait a very long time in a very short line to get my reserved tickets. Next year I should volunteer.
Ads before scheduled showtime: Slides. A lot of ads for, mostly, local businesses, including Scarecrow Video (“over 100,000 titles and growing”), City Arts Magazine, Vulcan, Zone Perfect, the Space Needle, Don Q Puerto Rican Rum, Pacific Place, and the Wallace Foundation. Some of the ads were so graphic-design-oriented and content-free that it was difficult figuring out what they were advertising.
4:30: Justine, one of the program directors, welcomed us to the second day of the 35th annual film festival and thanked the day’s sponsors, including TV5Monde and the Consulate General of France. Yep. A long way from those awful Nintendo DSI ads.
4:32: Lights go down.

  • An ad for SIFF and its 35th annual festival, using, cleverly, the no. 35: I.e., 35mm film, the average winter low in Seattle, etc. And if we donate $35 to SIFF we can become members of the 35 Club. Didn’t. Desole.
  • A crude animation ad for City Arts Magazine.
  • An ad for TV5 Monde. “...with the latest films, the biggest stars.” Can’t say that for Hollywood films anymore, can we? The latest films from Hollywood tend not to have big stars, just superheroes and robots.
  • “Aide-Toi, le ciel t’aidera” (“Help Yourself and God Will Help You”—although it looks like its English title has been secularized to: “With a Little Help from Myself”). A character study about North Africans living in difficult circumstances in France. But with a lot of joy and hope, too. At least for the trailer.

That’s it? I usually think theaters overdo the trailers but SIFF is at the beginning of a festival, for which, for most moviegoers, it’s hard to sort through all the choices. Trailers would’ve helped here. I've already bought tickets for four films at the fest, but, if a trailer, or trailers, looked good, I would've bought more. Missed opportunity for both of us.

Movie starts: 4:38

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Posted at 11:38 AM on May 25, 2009 in category Movies - Theaters   |   Permalink  
Sunday May 17, 2009

Before the Show: May 15, 2009

Theater: AMC Loews Uptown 3
Screen: No. 1
Location: Lower Queen Anne
Chain: AMC.
Operating: The Uptown was renovated in the early 1990s but that’s all I have on its history. It’s part of the AMC chain, but it’s an odd link in that chain. It usually plays small, independent films, or mid-range films, but occasionally it’ll show a big feature on opening weekend—as with “Angels & Demons.“ The place never seems crowded. Feels like it's dying. The 4:05, Friday showing of “A&D” had fewer than 16 people in an auditorium built for...300? Which doesn't bode well for either “A&D”’s box office or Uptown Cinema.
Arrived: 3:59 for a 4:05 show.
Ads before scheduled showtime:

  • Something about ncm.com and a “red carpet” somethingorother for “Angels & Demons.” It's sad that this even exists.
  • That Canon ad, quoting F. Scott Fitzgerald, to say that F. Scott Fitzgerald is no longer relevant in a world that has such great Canon cameras.
  • TV ad for the movie “Year One.” Why put TV ads in the AMC Movie Watcher’s Network? Why not just show the “Year One” trailer once the lights go down?
  • The History Channel presents snakes, crocodiles, deadly bugs, desperation. “And that’s just the first nine minutes.” Somewhere this appeals to someone.
  • “Starfleet Recruiting Center”: Not sure what this is an ad for. “Star Trek”? Guy doesn’t want to get beamed down, keeps talking, gets beamed down, faints. It’s supposed to be funny but I bet three “Star Trek” nerds in a basement could come up with something funnier.
  • So “Year One” is a trailer masquerading as an ad; this thing is an ad masquerading as a trailer. Starts out with that familiar logo and the words “This PREVIEW has been approved...” Thus, if you haven’t been paying attention, you pay attention. Oh, previews. An ominous voice intones, “There are some things in life best left forgotten.” Pause. “Your anniversary is not one of them.” Then dude has to rush to get his (incredibly hot) wife an anniversary present before she wakes up. I think it’s about a car but I just remember the wife.
  • ABC’s “Wipeout,” which is apparently back for another season. Didn’t even know it’d been there for a first.
  • A woman pruning her roses. Pricks finger. Looks around. Tastes the blood. Ad for HBO’s “True Blood” on DVD. Not bad.
  • That Sprite ad. They had a good one (last year?) where sweaty guys in an inner city b-ball court dove into the court, which was a pool, to quench themselves. That was clever. This thing is just odd. The setting feels more European, a piazza almost, and here people run and jump into each other and then disappear in a spray that quenches the smiling faces below them. Pretty creepy, really. I can see wanting to jump into a pool. But why would you want to disappear in a spray-like burst of water (or Sprite) that wets your friends below you?

“You have been watching the AMC Movie Watchers Network”

Total: Nine ads in six minutes. And I only had to pay $9.50 for the privilege.Oops, they're not over. There's also the Sprint “chimp” ad, asking us to turn off our cells. Make that 10 ads. And now something about Glen Beck and fathom events. How about unfathomable events? 11 ads.

4:07: Trailers:

  • “The Taking of Pelham 1-2-3”: I’m a fan of the original, so this hypercharged version, with cars crashing and malevolent, tattooed villains spouting threats, just makes me feel sad and wish for 1973 New York.
  • “Julie & Julia”: With Meryl Streep as Julia Child. And Amy Adams as, apparently, the “Sex and the City” girl for whom life isn’t opening up, and so she opens up one of Julia Child's cookbooks. I’ll be interested to see how they meld the two stories but right now it looks fantastic. Particularly since I know so little of Julia Child's story. I guess I assumed she was always, well, Julia Child.
  • ”Public Enemies.“ Everyone knows how I feel about Michael Mann so I’m already there. Love the shot of Johnny Depp, as John Dillinger, vaulting over the bank counter, machine gun in hand. Oh, Production Code, how you shudder in your grave.
  • The Proposal”: Again. How many times have I seen this thing anyway?
  • “My Sister’s Keeper”: “Most babies are accidents. Not me.” Interesting. Abigail Breslin plays a girl who was genetically engineered to keep her sister, ridden with leukemia, alive. But at 13 she rebels. She consults a lawyer. She wants a say in what happens to her body, and what parts are taken from her, even if it means her sister’s death. As a result, the family—with parents Cameron Diaz and Jason Patric—is torn apart. We get scenes of them fighting. Then Abigail's voice over again... “But somehow the very things that tore us apart, brought us together—in ways we could never imagine.” And there they are, hugging, etc. Must be tough to do trailers these days. They’re designed to tell us some aspect of the plot of the movie, which is to say its conflict. But if the conflict is perceived to be a downer, as this one is, as the new Adam Sandler movie is, they have to let us know the resolution to that conflict. So, in his movie, Sandler may not be dying, and Breslin’s stand may bring her family closer together. Which leaves us what in the actual movie? What’s left to watch?

“Please don’t spoil the movie by adding your own soundtrack.”

Movie actually begins: Forgot to check the watch. Apologies.

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Posted at 12:24 PM on May 17, 2009 in category Movies - Theaters   |   Permalink  
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