Random Factoid #414

15 09 2010

I was once a big Blockbuster Video guy (see Random Factoid #261), although I was mainly a Hollywood Video guy before they went under.  Unfortunately, it appears the “brick and mortar” model of selling movies is dead with the impending bankruptcy of Blockbuster.  As many bloggers have remarked, there’s something a little magical about going through case after case on the racks.

It appears now, according to Cinematical, that the company is going to some last-ditch efforts to save their stores.  How does tanning before or after getting your DVD sound?  Apparently America IS a whole lot like the Jersey Shore as these tanning beds now make up 40% of their income.  Now that, my friends, is just plain sad.

I have zero desire to tan – plus I live in Houston where the climate keeps me plenty bronze – so I’m not all for the idea.  But how far can Blockbuster’s dignity slip before they call it quits?  Is anyone with me in saying that they should just close before they completely embarrass themselves?  I don’t want to go into Darque TanBuster anytime soon, so I think I’ll stick to Redbox and iTunes for now.

Random Factoid #263

17 04 2010

Scott over at “He Shot Cyrus” posted a probing question in one of his many comments yesterday (follow his lead, other readers):

How do you get your movies now? Hollywood or Blockbuster?
Netflix just takes a little planning ahead and while the physical rental stores are still good for quick picks, I save so much money on late fees. Also, their selection is untouchable.

I’ll break it down for you all in order of frequency.

  1. Houston Public Library.  Seriously.  They have pretty much any movie I could want from the past decade, and it just takes a little planning (like Scott said).  Another big plus is that I can have up to 15 movies out at a time.  And did I mention it’s free?
  2. iTunes.  It’s where I go to get my quick fixes for movie cravings (and for some things that the library might not have).  I have an Apple TV, so I can watch iTunes rentals on practically any electronic device I own (because I have an iPhone, albeit a cracked one).
  3. Blockbuster.  Ever since they did their bizarre rental schism, I’ve been reluctant to go there.  But when I need a movie that hasn’t been released electronically, this is where I go.
  4. On Demand.  AT&T has some nifty on-demand movies on U-Verse, but I usually choose iTunes just because of the more diverse viewing options it offers.
  5. Redbox.  I chronicled my first visit to Redbox back in December, and since then I have only gone back once (I got “Moon,” for those who are particularly curious).  I have a couple of coupons for free rentals, so I can imagine using them whenever summer rolls around.

Hope this proves enlightening for those of you thinking, “Gosh, how does that Marshall watch his movies.”  Rest easy tonight, you formerly weary souls.

Random Factoid #261

15 04 2010

Back in 2004, Blockbuster told me in a commercial that I would remember where I was when I heard about the end of late fees.

It’s 2009 and I don’t remember.  If I had to guess, I was in front of some TV.  Where that TV is, I have no idea.

So take that, Blockbuster!  Your advertising didn’t work!

(P.S. Does anyone remember this commercial?  Without watching the YouTube link I put below?)

Random Factoid #134

9 12 2009

I once kept Blockbuster’s copy of “Munich” for over a month, convinced that I would find some time to watch it.

I didn’t.

I took it back and only paid a small late fee.  So much for “no more late fees,” Blockbuster.  Although considering how long I kept it, I should be thankful for how little I paid.

(In case you were wondering, I watched “Munich” a few months later and loved it.)

Random Factoid #49

15 09 2009

My subscription to Entertainment Weekly began in July 2003 when my family became members of Blockbuster Video.  They extended a free trial, and I loved looking at it so much that my mom began paying for a subscription.  I often saved them and cut pictures of movies out of them.  I stored the cut-outs in an old Nike shoebox.  On occasion, I would take similarly themed clippings and put them together in a collage which hung on my wall.  I recall creating a Star Wars, Walk the Line, and a Reese Witherspoon collage, who was then my favorite Hollywood star to drool over.

F.I.L.M. of the Week (August 21, 2009)

21 08 2009

The new feature that I hyped up (OK, I briefly mentioned in a post that no one read) is here!  The F.I.L.M. of the week will be unveiled every Friday; F.I.L.M. is an acronym for “First-Class Independent, Little-Known Movie.”  But the movies will not be limited to independent films, although I would like to highlight them.  The word just works better in forming a strategic acronym.

The whole point of this weekly feature is to suggest a movie that you might not have seen, considered, or even heard about (barring you are a major film buff like myself).  So if you are browsing Netflix or walking around Blockbuster, rather than picking up “17 Again” or, God forbid, “Paul Blart: Mall Cop,” you will be armed with the knowledge of at least one movie that is a safe bet for excellent entertainment.

It is my distinct pleasure to award the distinction of the first “F.I.L.M. of the Week” to the exquisite “Little Children.”  The movie is just on the outside of my top 10, although given more viewings, it just might move into the elite ranks.   It is one of very few movies that I can say are practically flawless.  Every performance is great.  Every character is well-developed.  Every minute of it is absolutely spellbinding. Unfortunately, audiences didn’t pick up on its brilliance; it grossed about $5 million at the box office, most of which was from Oscar season. The movie was nominated for Academy Awards for Best Actress (Kate Winslet), Best Supporting Actor (Jackie Earle Haley), and Best Adapted Screenplay. The Golden Globes nominated it for Best Picture.

The movie is based on the novel by Tom Perrotta, but he decided to take the movie in a distinctly different direction than the book rather than just make a carbon copy.  The screenplay is about as good as it gets.  It complexly weaves together the tales of Sarah (Kate Winslet), the resistant mother stuck among droves of Stepford wives, Brad (Patrick Wilson), the stay-at-home-dad emasculated by his wife (Jennifer Connelly) and her success, Larry (Noah Emmerich), a disgraced police officer out for vengeance, and Ronnie (Jackie Earle Haley), a pedophile who moves in with his loving mother.  They all impact each other in ways they cannot even fathom, and the film’s overlying messages become clear through their encounters.

Everyone is magnificent in the movie, but I do have to single out a few names.  Director Todd Field gives the film narrative poise unlike any movie of the decade, and his presence and guiding hand is clearly felt throughout the movie.  He skillfully handles the very tough material that the movie tackles, treating it with the respect and dignity that they deserve.  Despite its heavy themes, Field also allows it to function as a very dark comedy as well.  This should have been Kate Winslet’s Oscar-winning performance.  It is nuanced, emotional, and absolutely gripping.  She immediately draws you in and never lets go.  Jackie Earle Haley does the unthinkable by turning a feared sexual predator into someone we can ultimately feel compassion for and empathize.  He moves you almost to the verge of tears, especially in scenes with his gentle and loving mother (Phyllis Sommerville).  Here, we see him as emotionally raw and not a pedophile, but as an insecure human being just like the rest of us.

But it’s time for me to stop writing and let the movie speak for itself.  I will say that the movie might be disturbing for some easily squeamish, mainly because of its brutally honest and often graphic portrayal of things that exist in our society.  Nevertheless, for a movie that will keep you thinking for days, drop everything and watch “Little Children.”  If you do see it, write your thoughts in a comment, or if you have seen it, still express yourself in a comment.

Until the next reel,

P.S. – Watch the trailer.  It’s one of the rare ones that doesn’t give away anything about the plot. And it also sets you up for the ride that “Little Children” offers.