DragonCon 2014 – Patrick Stewart, Harry Turtledove, and Me!

Yay! My wife and I are off on a mini-vacation to DragonCon, a pop-culture convention hled annually in Atlanta, Ga. We are going with one of our best friends and will meet our daughter and some other friends there.

DragonCon

 

I’m not actually sure what all of us are going to do there. My wife and I have been before but it has been a couple of decades.

They have hundreds of guests appearing. Patrick Stewart is perhaps the best known but they have a slew of other film actors (Karl Urban, Peter Weller), television actors (Amy Acker, Jeri Ryan), authors (Harry Turtledove, Laurell Hamilton), comic book writers/artists (Tim Sale, Mike Grell) and plenty of others.

DragonCon Aquarium

I am going to try to attend some of the writing seminars while the rest of them will likely be at the costuming events. There is a full-blown parade and nightly parties, including one at the Georgia Aquarium after hours!

New Netflix Streaming Releases for the Week of 8/26/14

There is a broad spectrum of movies this week. Although I haven’t seen it, my recommendation would be The Unknown Known as all of Errol Morris’ previous documentaries have been fascinating.

Anime: Noragami

Comedy: Thanks for Sharing, The Dick Knost Show, Barbershop 2: Back in Business

The Unknown Known

Documentary: Serial Killer Culture, The Unknown Known

Drama: Middle of Nowhere, Go for Sisters, Test, The Motel Life

Family: Have You Met My Ghoulfriend?, Swan Princess: A Royal Family Tale

Dark Space

Fantasy & Science Fiction: Dark Space

Foreign: Dhoom 3, When I Saw You, The Chef The Actor The Scoundrel

Horror: Blood Glacier

From Dusk Till Dawn

Television: From Dusk Till Dawn, Bojack Horseman, Happy Valley, 30 for 30: Hillsborough, 30 for 30: White Blue and White, Being Mary Jane, and new episodes of Foyle’s War and Parenthood

Thriller: Blue Ruin

R.I.P. Richard Attenborough 1923-2014

Richard Attenborough

Richard Attenborough passed away August 24th, 2014, just a few days shy of his 91st birthday. Today, he is best known as John Hammond, the founder of Jurassic Park though he had 74 roles that were not John Hammond. He had great character roles in a number of epics, such as Bartlett in The Great Escape and Frenchy in The Sand Pebbles.

Richard Attenborough was also an accomplished director and producer. He won Oscars for Best Picture and Best Director for Gandhi (1992). He was also nominated for Best Director Golden Globes for A Chorus Line (1985) and Cry Freedom (1987).

Netflix currently has seven of his films available on instant streaming. They are the aforementioned Gandhi and The Sand Pebbles (my recommendations) as well as Doctor Dolittle (1967), All Night Long, Grey Owl, Chaplin, and Light Keeps Me Company.

Rest in peace, Richard Attenborough, you will be missed.

Same Poster?

 

I know there are only a finite number of ways to do a movie poster so there will be many similar ones but I came across these two twins separated at birth the other day. I don’t think they’d do this style for a Hollywood release since in both cases the figure is non-descript.

Dark Space (2013)

Dark Space

 

Confession of Murder (2012)

Confession of Murder

 

 

 

Goodbye Killing!

The final season of The Killing is currently available on instant Netflix (and only there).

The Killing

 

The Killing (2011-4) – Rated TV-14

It all comes down to this: the fourth and final season of the critically acclaimed crime thriller is a six-episode Netflix original that wraps up loose ends and reveals long-buried secrets. Detectives Linden and Holder return to investigate a gruesome mass slaying that exposes a dark family history, while trying to cover up a crime they committed.

It certainly is nice that some abandoned series have found their final chapter at Netflix. Arrested Development’s final season was not as laugh out loud funny as the earlier series (“There’s always money in the banana stand”) but its Rube Goldberg plotting was a marvel to behold. The Killing is the latest series to receive a temporary reprieve.

The Killing was not really an underrated show. It had major flaws and the two leads, while quite good, certainly don’t fit the classical TV actor look. The first season ended on a cheat and I suspect this is where audiences lost interest. The series limped along for two more seasons but never reached its potential.

I would heartily recommend re-watching the final episode of season three before delving into the final season. Events pick up immediately from there. There is a new case but the ramifications of season three’s case interweave through these final six episodes.

The new case is very interesting. Joan Allen’s commander makes a very good counterpoint to Detective Linden. She is a very structured, rules-oriented person and a surrogate mother whereas Detective Linden is her usual maverick self and once again a winner of the mother of the year award.

Linden and Holder have to fight their personal demons as The Killing reaches its conclusion. This six episode arc is a worthy final season in spite of…

MILD SPOILER AHEAD

 

Unfortunately, in an effort to wrap up the series, the writers provide not only a cheap Deus Ex Machina but also a final coda that feels false. These serve to demean what would have been a very good and fitting ending if they had just left it alone.

Just Some Photos Today

Dorothy

 

My darling granddaughter with a birthday present from a dear friend.

Empty

 

How I like my theaters – empty! Why don’t I stay at home? Immersion. I like to get a drink and snacks and sit in the dark and get lost in a story.

Table

 

I love these new tables at Carolina Cinemas. They are made from vintage 35mm film reels and covered with a clear layer (lucite?).

My Local Theater Roundup

I love going to the movies. I also love staying home and watching movies. I thought that today I would take a positive look at what is good in our local theaters. R.I.P. Cinebarre, you will be missed.

Carolina Cinemas

 

Obviously, The Carolina is my favorite.

* FREE movies every Tuesday night (Asheville Film Society) and Thursday night (Thursday horror picture show) put The Carolina head and shoulders above the rest.

* Once a month, Ken Hanke gets a new digital print of a classic movie at a bargain price ($6 for members, $8 for non-members). Last month it was Alfred Hitchcock’s Rear Window.

* Local food, locally sourced from Chop Shop & Carolina Mountain Bakery along with local beer on tap, wine, iced tea, and the usual soft drinks. They have REAL butter on their popcorn. Their quattro formaggio pizza is my current favorite though I’m itching to try their hummus.

* They currently do DealFlicks – they don’t really give a discount through them so much as give you a small popcorn and a ticket for the price of a ticket. Asheville Film Society ($10 a year) gives you a $1 discount off of each ticket and FREE refills on any size popcorn.

* FREE refills on any size soda or tea

Biltmore Grande

 

The Biltmore Grande is the newest of Asheville’s cinemas.

* It has all stadium seating and the best sound and video in the area. Their auditoriums are designed so that opening the door does not allow light to leak in.

* They have a RPX screen which is HUGE and LOUD. It is also an upcharge so these showings are less crowded.

* They have Coke (and other flavor) Icees – my drink of choice at the movies.

Epic Hendersonville

 

Epic of Hendersonville, just south of Asheville

* Very, very close – okay it doesn’t say much about the theater itself but it sure is nice to drive fifteen minutes instead of forty-five.

* The sound and video are almost as nice and large as Biltmore Grande. They have all stadium seating and the same proper positioning of doors.

* They currently allow DealFlicks, MoviePass, and even (often) give away tickets for blood donations.

Asheville Pizza

 

 

Asheville Pizza & Brewing is on the North side of Asheville

* Our only remaining second-run theater. Tickets are only $3 for all shows

* Locally brewed beer on tap

* Good menu, including many varieties of pizza. Best item: The Tot-Chos – a basket of tater tots baked and then smothered in queso.

The Expendables 3 – Expendable indeed

The Expendables 3 is currently in theaters

The Expendables 3

 

The Expendables 3 (2014) – Rated PG-13

Barney augments his team with new blood for a personal battle: to take down Conrad Stonebanks, the Expendables co-founder and notorious arms trader who is hell bent on wiping out Barney and every single one of his associates.”

The Expendables is every bit as (former) star-heavy and assembly-line as the first two entries in this franchise. This is the first one to go for a PG-13 rating. I would lament this as The Expendables 1 & 2 were gleefully R-rated in a way that action movies just aren’t anymore. I say would because honestly part of the reason the first two received restricted ratings were because of some pretty dodgy blood CGI.

I love the concept and conceit of these movies and will watch every one they put out. Unfortunately, complete digital copies of this movie leaked online weeks before release. The Expendables 3 flopped at the box office (fourth on opening weekend behind Turtles, Guardians, and Let’s Be Cops!) but there is no telling whether this was due to piracy.

The Expendables 3 doesn’t break any new ground. Our villain this go-round is Mel Gibson. He doesn’t chew the scenery as much as he did in Machete Kills but is a serviceable villain. The problem is that he is such a throwback. He is so evil that he kills his own men (a cliche that I tired of decades ago). Mind you he cannot manage to kill those listed as Expendable so I guess he just chose a closer target.

The Expendables crew is back (Stallone, Statham, Lundgren, Crews, and Couture) and, as always, each gets a scene to showcase his talents. Bruce Willis is out, replaced by Harrison Ford. Chuck Norris is out, replaced by Wesley Snipes (who draws the biggest laugh when asked why he was incarcerated). I’m not sure what happened behind the scenes but apparently there can only be one African American Expendable as when they pick up Snipes, Terry Crews gets sidelined.

Jet Li and Arnold Schwarzenegger put in token, obligatory cameos. The movie also features Antonio Banderas as a mercenary with personality and Kelsey Grammer as a recruiter. The new younger Expendables are MMA fighters Ronda Rousey, Victor Ortiz and actor/model Kellan Lutz. That part smacks of spinoff.

Unfortunately, The Expendables 3 is not very good. It is not the train wreck that occurs at the beginning of the movie. It has plenty of action, lots of explosions and guns firing but all of it has a surreal A-team quality to it as (almost) no one ever gets shot except the villains. It is as though none of the legions of faceless baddies have been to any kind of firearm training.

If you just want to see these old school action stars do their thing, then by all means go see this movie. Otherwise wait for it on Netflix.

 

New Netflix Streaming Releases for the Week of 8/19/14

A little bit of this and a little bit of that for back to school time

Action: The Way Back

Trevor Noah: African American

Comedy: Trevor Noah: African American, I Hate Luv Storys, Eddie Pepitone: In Ruins

Documentary: Mission Blue, The Next Space Race, Teenage

Drama: Great Expectations, Somebody’s Child

The Nut Job

Family: The Nut Job, Axel: The Biggest Little Hero, Hamlet and Hutch, Kitten Party

Fantasy & Science Fiction: In the Name of the King 3

Foreign: Rajneeti, Tere Naal Love Ho Gaya

Horror: Dead Silence, The Tortured, State of Emergency

Television: Criminal Minds, The Forsyte Saga, Rosemary & Thyme, The Incredible Dr. Pol, Wicked Tuna, Wildest Arctic, Wildest India, Wildest Indochina, Wildest Islands, Wildest Latin America, and new episodes of Strawberry Shortcake: Berry Bitty Adventures and Strange Hill High

Drones

Thriller: Drones

R.I.P. Lauren Bacall 1924-2014

Lauren Bacall

Lauren Bacall passed away August 12th, 2014 at the age of 89. When I was a kid watching old movies on television, she and Lana Turner defined for me what it meant to be sexy. I adored The Big Sleep and Key Largo and then eagerly sought more of Bogey and Bacall. I enjoyed Dark Passage, Blood Alley, Harper, and To Have and Have Not. Her ‘older’ roles were just as fascinating with turns in The Shootist, Misery, and Murder on the Orient Express.

While she will always be inextricably linked with Humphrey Bogart, she had quite a career without him. Yes, the Bogey/Bacall vehicles are my favorites with The Big Sleep being my number one choice. Bacall was nominated for an Academy Award for her supporting performance in The Mirror Has Two Faces (losing to Juliette Binoche in The English Patient). Bacall received an honorary Oscar in 2010 for her contributions to the Golden Age of Hollywood.

Netflix has six of her roles streaming. None of them are favorites of mine though it is pretty easy to see that How to Marry a Millionaire is your best bet. If you go over to Amazon Prime they have even less but they do have Dark Passage with Bogart.

Rest in Peace, Lauren Bacall. You will be missed.