REVIEW: Houston

21 04 2013

RiverRun International Film Festival

As many of you reading this review may know, I am a proud Houstonian.  I could not be more grateful to grow up in such a great town, full of culture and vitality.  In my lifetime, I have seen it grow to become the third-largest city in the country (and also its most diverse, apparently).  A lot of great things are happening there, in case you haven’t clued into it.  In fact, it’s the setting for a new movie made by … a German.

That’s right, of all cities in America, Bastian Günther chose my hometown of Houston.  Granted, it’s the natural city to set a drama about energy trading in, but it could easily have been another New York or Los Angeles film.  His “Houston” is something decidedly different than one of those travelogues, although I can’t say it’s anything extraordinary.  Had I not had that native pull, I don’t even know if I would have been even remotely interested in the film at all.


The movie is essentially a tale of corporate espionage, although with none of the excitement a film like “Duplicity” gives it.  Günther is cold, chilly, and removed.  He prefers a darker, subdued character study of Clemens Trunschka (Ulrich Tukur), an unlikable schlub sent to Houston to steal a CEO for his own German energy company.  He winds up getting befriended by an overly gregarious traveler sculpted from the Ryan Bingham mold, Garrett Dillahunt’s Wagner, in a clichéd subplot that adds nothing to the film save a few laughs.

Thankfully, it avoids being as miserably boring as Sofia Coppola’s dreadful (and to de-bracket my objectivity, overrated) “Lost in Translation.”  But how much of that is true for non-Houstonians i cannot say.  I was able to find some middling satisfaction in spotting Houston iconography, which also might have blinded me to some of the imagery being subversive.  But to be honest, I don’t really care to reexamine to find out for certain.  And I don’t want you, the unsuspecting viewer reading this review, to throw away nearly two hours of your life to find out for me.  C+2stars

Random Factoid #397

29 08 2010

Is this a joke?

The Angelika Film Center, the biggest “art house” theater in Houston, unexpectedly shut its doors today.  Apparently it was plagued by problems with the landlord. Grrr.

With 8 screens, most of which were dedicated to independent cinema, it was definitely a huge resource as a blogger.  Now Houston, the fourth biggest city in the country, is left with 3 SCREENS to show independent movies (at the River Oaks Theater).  Please tell me I’m dreaming?!

I fully intend to write letters to theater owners in Houston telling them that they need to pick up some of the movies that the Angelika was going to show.  If I don’t get to see “I’m Still Here” or “The Tillman Story” because of the theater’s negligence, I will erupt like Vesuvius.  I’m already having nightmares of December whenever everyone else can see awards movies but Houston will have no screens to show them on!

I’m very distraught, as you can tell.  On a blogging level, this is like a death in the family.

Random Factoid #211

24 02 2010

I’m one of those people who is extremely easily distracted from doing a simple shopping task.

Case in point: back in January, whenever I was shopping for travel books before my trip to Argentina, I found myself in a section filled with books about the history of Texas.

Of course, there just HAD to be a book about the history of movie theaters in the city of Houston.  I lost well over 30 minutes to it.

Random Factoid #196

9 02 2010

For the past two years, my fantasy football team has been called the Houston Iron Men.

The team name comes not from some sort of sports context.  Rather, it comes solely from the movie “Iron Man.”

And it sounds like a cool team name – it works in both contexts.

Oh, and if you were wondering how the team did, it’s best that you don’t ask.

Random Factoid #167

11 01 2010

People talk about life-changing movies all the time, but a movie that truly inspired me to go out and alter my life was “Casino Royale.”

No, I didn’t leave the theater, go buy an Aston Martin, pick up gorgeous European women, and start firing my large arsenal of weapons.

Per se, it wasn’t actually the movie itself that inspired the change; rather, it was something that happened while I watched the movie.

I had gone with a friend, and my parents had so generously lent me their credit card to pay for the movie because I was plum broke and out of cash.  Even in November, I was wearing mesh shorts (that’s Houston for you).  These shorts did not have pockets, so I stuffed the card into the elastic waistline.

At some point during the movie, I felt my shorts and noticed that the card was gone.  I began to panic but remained calm and focused on the movie, knowing that I didn’t stand a chance of finding it in the dimly lit theater.

When the lights came on, I scoured the floors for the card.  The search became fruitful after about a minute or so when I began looking in the row below us.

The next day, my mom and I got in the car and headed to the Sports Authority where we bought five pairs of mesh shorts with pockets so nothing like this would ever happen again.

Random Factoid #3

31 07 2009

My theater of choice is the Edwards Greenway Grand Palace 24 in Houston, Texas. It opened in 1999, and I frequent it because it is close to my house and it is always clean. The theater is now owned by the Regal Entertainment Group, which thankfully offers a rewards program for frequent guests called the Regal Crown Club. Points are awarded for each dollar spent on tickets and concessions, with occasional bonuses thrown in every once in a while. My family got the card in late 2004, and as of this posting, we have accumulated 2,156 points. And I have only been to the theater a handful of times in the past year.

P.S. – I just discovered that you can only earn 15 points in a day.  I discoverd this on my points statement today after shelling out $42 for the family to see “G-Force.”