Archives: movies

Captain America: The Winter Soldier

I don’t write about comic book movies often. One reason is it’s too much like thinking about my day job. Another reason is I rarely see movies in theaters, so any review I might write would hardly be timely. Case in point: I finally saw “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” last night, on Blu-Ray, sitting on the couch.

The baby woke up early from her evening nap, necessitating about a two hour viewing hiatus after the opening action scene. Did I say I rarely see movies in theaters? I rarely see them at home either. Intermittent viewings of Netflix on my little Chromebook screen, one movie spread out over the course of a week when the baby and MBW* are asleep is usually the best I can do.

Forced Hiatus from Popular Culture

I understand it’s been a good year for movies. I read glowing reviews and happy Facebook chatter about the recent crop of comic book films and the return of everyone’s favorite city-stomping behemoth.

I certainly hope they hold up on the small screen because that’s the only way I’m going to see them – months or perhaps years after their release. And when I say small screen I mean one of two screens: either my big screen television or the much more modest dimensions of my Acer Chromebook.

It isn’t that I do not want to see any of these movies in the theater. But my priority is my 6-month old daughter. Going to the theater is simply not an option. I can wait for the Blu-ray to reach the Red Box and rent the film for the night. That seldom works as well as one might hope. A two hour block of time, uninterrupted by an infant’s needs, is difficult to achieve. And if she is sleeping the volume must, of course, be minimized. The usual result of a rental is that my lovely wife and I watch twenty, perhaps thirty minutes of the movie, then turn it off for the night. We may – or may not – be able to finish it the next day before I need to return it.

So most of last year’s fare that is on my to-see list remains on the list.

My other source for film is Neflix. I am up late every night, writing and attending to Victoria’s last feeding and changing of the day. After getting in my word count I usually have time to watch a third or even half of a movie. Now, Neflix tends to provide streaming movies later than they are available for rental. And the selection is curtailed. But patience eventually brings many films I’ve hoped to watch to the small screen – to the very small screen. Hence my hope that the current crop of effects-driven spectaculars hold up on my – compact – viewing area.

And now Comcast has ceased providing free streaming of HBO shows. So no more “Game of Thrones” until the library gets in this season’s DVD set.

First World problems, right? I’ve plenty of books and a near endless supply of older films or television series at my beck. I’m hardly hurting for entertainment. Just don’t expect me to contribute to any conversations about the latest and greatest. I haven’t seen it.

Films of Consequence

I’m not sure the current generation will display the same tendency. But back in the early days of cable, back in the time of chunky VCRs and laser disc players, adolescents would view the same film over and over. At least I did as an adolescent. I imagine that was largely a function of limited viewing options. The number of cable channels was limited. HBO and Showtime would run the same selections through multiple times per day. Video rentals cost money and picking one was a crapshoot, so spending money on a tried and tested flick made sense. You might grab a couple of new films for the weekend but you’d always include and insurance pick, something you knew you liked.

It seems likely that with the sheer volume of options – streaming video, hundreds of cable channels, Red Box rentals – that variety and novelty will discourage tweens’ and teens’ multiple viewings of the same picture.

Summer Movies

Apparently there are a number of science fiction and superhero movies out this year, a number of them purportedly even good.  I say apparently since – with the exception of Iron Man 3 – I haven’t seen any of them.  I don’t get to the theater often.  When I do it is usually to a second-run theater that serves food and beer.  My wife enjoys animated films, the sort marketed to children but with sly winks and nods to the adults in the audience.  And I like the well-written ones too.  So that’s what we usually see when we do get to the second-run theaters.

I tend not to see the big-budget releases until they get released as rentals.  And, honestly, a big screen television and a Blu-ray player doesn’t badly diminish the film watching experience.  Plus I can watch in the comfort of my own home, pause when I need to see a man about a horse, and I don’t have to pay through the nose if I want a snack.

But these big films don’t hit the rental market quickly, except for the box-office duds.  So, I’m going to have to wait.  And that means avoiding spoilers.  I understand there was some sort of kerfluffle regarding Superman.  I’m scrupulously avoiding details, I want to experience it without any preconceived notions.

So what shall I look forward to?  What did you enjoy at the cinema this year?

Choices

The wife and I watched “This is 40” the other night. I’m glad we’ve several years of marriage under our belts, a solid relationship, and an appreciation of coarse humor. I wonder if anyone saw that on a first or second date. If so, was there a follow up date or did the flick provide too much fodder for speculation and second-guessing?

Picking the right movie for the occasion is more art than science. I can’t claim I’ve made the right call across the board. I once took a first date to a Sick and Twisted Animation Festival. What the hell was I thinking?

Choice is a mixed blessing, though the mix is overwhelmingly weighted positive. I remember a s a kid getting dropped off at the mall with a ten-dollar bill in my wallet. I’d head straight to the Walden’s or the B. Dalton’s and browse the science-fiction and fantasy paperbacks, searching for the title and cover that most captured my imagination. $2.75 or $2.95 would leave me with enough for a meal at the food court and a few bucks in quarters for the arcade. Choices and more choices, all of the good.

I find that selecting a new book to read now requires more consideration than it used to. My reading time is more constrained by the demands of life, and I am more aware now of the finite limits of my existence. The moments spent reading one book can never be recovered, selecting one book has eliminated another somewhere down the chronological road.

That makes book reviews important. Even more valuable, I think, is knowing the sort of think you like. Know what authors appeal to you. What general type of story pushes your particular buttons. A blurb indicating that author A writes in a style reminiscent of author B can help. A recommendation from a favored author can help. Check out the book store’s Staff Picks.

There are no guarantees but you can try to stack the odds in your favor.

I know that I have in the past advocated reading widely. I hold to that. I don’t see a contradiction. A well-rounded interior life provides plenty of room for multiple interests and preferences. You can read widely AND choose wisely.

Consolation – you can always learn from your mistakes.