Random Factoid #270

24 04 2010

Another factoid brought to you by Ross v Ross, this time from their post “What are the best movies you have watched on a plane?

I think a great plane movie has to be entertaining and attention-grabbing, but it can’t be too rousing or hilarious because then you can’t fully express yourself (not wanting to wake up those pesky sleeping passengers).  It also has to play well on a computer screen or a screen the size of your wallet.

I selected my two favorite movies that I have watched on a plane, one that was provided by the airline and one I brought myself.

The best movie Continental Airlines has ever provided me is “Michael Jackson’s This Is It.”  And it beat out a Best Picture winner in “A Beautiful Mind” largely because it made me happy.  I just sat there and really realized how many great songs MJ really made.

The best movie I have seen that I brought myself on a plane is “City of God,” Fernando Meirelles’ sweeping tale of the slums of Rio de Janeiro.  In fact, it’s one of my favorite movies of all time.

Any favorites for you all?  Has anyone happened to have seen “Up in the Air” while up in the air?

REVIEW: Michael Jackson’s This Is It

26 01 2010

I watched “Michael Jackson’s This Is It” on my plane flight to Argentina a few weeks ago, and it’s exactly the kind of movie that Continental Airlines shouldn’t be showing on their planes.


Because the movie is a glorious celebration of the music and artistry of Michael Jackson.  It’s a movie that makes you want to sing along with his prodigious hit songs and get out of your seat and bust a move.  Those two things are unfortunately rather tricky to do without earning the extreme ire of your fellow travelers, so I had to settle for humming and toe-tapping.

The multitudes in London would have seen one hell of a show from Jackson last summer.  As visually stunning as the music and dancing, the concert was a multi-sensory spectacle designed to absolutely floor.  Jackson created several new videos for songs such as “Smooth Criminal” and “Thriller,” but there was also plenty of the familiar material that firmly established him as the King of Pop.

The movie isn’t just rehearsal footage of each number; it is a portrait of the man behind the music, a perfectionist with an unbelievable gift and vision.  It never dwells on sadness from Jackson’s death; in fact, it serves as a glorious reminder of all the great music and moments that he gave us.  I didn’t live in the era of his greatest hits, but I do know that he was bigger than anything from my lifetime.  My parents both remember exactly where they were when they saw the “Thriller” music video for the first time – there simply has not been an artist with as much charisma and talent that has drawn in the masses since him.  “This Is It” reminds us that Jackson lives on forever through his music, but we have lost a kind and brilliant artist, man, and father.  Never do these two coexist more beautifully than in the film’s finale, a performance of “Man in the Mirror” that will assuredly make all of Jackson’s fans tear up.  B+ /

What to Look Forward to In … October 2009

29 08 2009

We give the movie industry late August and all of September to recover from the busy summer season, but in October, it starts to kick it into gear again.  Unfortunately, my most anticipated movie in October, Martin Scorsese’s “Shutter Island,” was pushed back to February.  But the month still puts forth several great movies for all tastes.

October 2

This week, I can promise you that I will be throwing my money not at a new release, but at the re-release of two staples of my childhood.  “Toy Story” and “Toy Story 2” will hit theaters again for a few weeks.  1 ticket.  2 movies. 3-D.  Need I say more?

The week also gives us “The Invention of Lying,” which could be a sleeper comedy hit. The movie stars Ricky Gervais, who was the lead of the British version of “The Office.” Around this time last year, he starred in “Ghost Town,” a comedy with a heart that you need to go rent now, that was dismissed by audiences. I have high hopes for his latest, in which he plays a man who tells the world’s first lie on an alternate Earth. He continues to wield the power to suit his own selfish needs. The movie also features Jennifer Garner, Rob Lowe, and the always funny Tina Fey.

And not to mention, the week delivers Drew Barrymore’s directorial debut, “Whip It.” The movie stars the irresistible Ellen Page (“Juno”) as Bliss, a teenager weary of the beauty pageants that she is forced into by her parents. One day, she discovers the world of roller derby and she finds the happiness that she has been so desperately seeking. The movie boasts a hilarious supporting cast including Kristen Wiig (“SNL”), Oscar-winner Marcia Gay Harden, and Barrymore herself.

And it just keeps getting better.  The Coen Brothers (“No Country for Old Men”) are back with their latest feature, “A Serious Man;” they also wrote the original screenplay.  The movie seems to be a big risk.  It features no marquee names other than the Coens themselves. The trailer is cryptic, giving no indication of what to expect from the movie. I don’t mind an aura of mystique, but this is an aura of confusion. The movie is being marketed as a dark comedy, and I pray that it is the polar opposite of the Coens’ last foray into the genre, “Burn After Reading,” which I didn’t find funny at all. The movie starts in limited release and then will slowly expand from New York and Los Angeles.

The other major release of the week is “Zombieland,” a horror-comedy with Woody Harrelson.

October 9

The only exciting movie hitting theaters across the country this weekend is “Couples Retreat.”  A comedy centered around four couples at a luxurious tropical resort that is revealed to be a marriage therapy clinic, it appears to provide something for everyone.  It has pretty women (Malin Akerman, Kristen Bell, Kristin Davis) AND funny guys (Jason Bateman, Vince Vaughn, Jon Favreau).  The movie is the directorial debut of Ralph Billingsley, best known for playing Ralphie in “A Christmas Story,” and the screenplay is written by Vaughn and Favreau.  Hopefully it can provide some good laughs in a season usually replete of hilarious comedies.

Opening in limited release is “An Education,” a movie that has been garnering massive Oscar buzz for months now.  Most of it has centered on the breakout performance of lead actress Carey Mulligan.  In the movie, she stars as Jenny, a 17-year-old in 1960s England who is set on going to Oxford.  However, an older gentleman (Peter Sarsgaard) comes along and sweeps her off of her feet, introducing her to a lifestyle that she immediately loves.  But reality bites, and Jenny is left at a crucial crossroads.  The movie has also generated buzz around supporting actors Alfred Molina and Rosamund Pike (the red-haired villain of “Die Another Day”).  Raves are also flying in for the screenplay, written by author Nick Hornby, writer of “About a Boy” and “Fever Pitch.”  And with the 10 nominees for Best Picture at this year’s Oscars, many people say it has a good chance of claiming one of the ten.

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