Friday This ‘n’ That – Violence in the Cinema Edition

I went to see Sicario the other day and enjoyed myself but there was an incident at the theater.

I actually missed about ten minutes in the middle of the movie as a fist fight broke out. One patron decided the theater was his personal living room and starting using his cellphone, another patron objected verbally, and shortly after, sound effects behind me are echoing what was onscreen.  I got up but several closer people had already separated them so I got management.

The incident was resolved quickly. After the movie finished and people started leaving, management was on hand to give out return passes. My wife was concerned when I told her but for all the talk of cinema violence, I have gone to the movies constantly for over four decades and have seen just this one fight and one drunk and disorderly a few years back.

I am refraining from naming the theater(s) involved as I would not want them to get a reputation over an incident. Violence is obviously unacceptable (on either part of the equation) but also

TURN OFF YOUR PHONE at the movies – everyone else paid for a ticket too. Act like an adult – don’t kick the chair in front of you because you want to put your feet up. Don’t talk during the feature. This is not your living room. If you are incapable of simple human decency, for goodness sakes, stay home.


The Resurgence of the Divergent Insurgent

Insurgent starts in theaters on March 19th.



Insurgent (2015) – Rated PG-13

Beatrice Prior must confront her inner demons and continue her fight against a powerful alliance which threatens to tear her society apart with the help from others on her side.

Divergent Double Feature

Insurgent is obviously the sequel to last year’s Divergent. I had meant to catch that last year but somehow missed it. Lucky for me, Divergent and Insurgent are the first double feature of what I hope will be many this year (Jurassic Park, Avengers, Mad Max, Terminator, etc.). Dare I hope for a return of the original Star Wars trilogy to theaters?

Locally, Regal Biltmore Grande is offering the double feature. The double feature is Thursday, March 19th starting at 5:30 for us (your time may be slightly different). Regal Crown Club members also get a $5 medium popcorn and soda combo with ticket purchase.

Many other chains are also offering this double feature. AMC, Arclight, Drafthouse, Celebration, and Cinemark are among those featuring Divergent and Insurgent. Check your local theater for special offers.

Speaking of special offers, Vudu has a FREE ticket offer for Insurgent through 3/16. You have to purchase Step Up All In, Step Up Revolution, Now You See Me, Warm Bodies, The Perks of Being a Wallflower, The Impossible, Abduction, What to Expect, or The Hunger Games bundle. Prices start at $7.99.

Wal-Mart has a bunch of DVDs with FREE movie tickets to Insurgent as well. Finally, Target has tickets on some of their book copies of Insurgent but word is that those stickers are difficult to get off the books legibly.


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.

Regal Classic Film Series

Regal Cinemas


Kudos to Regal for bringing back their classic cinema series. Last fall they screened six classic movies. The only problem was that they were all R-rated though perhaps they identified the audience for this as skewing older. This go round the focus is on comedies.

Their classic movies are shown Sundays at 2 and Wednesdays at 2 and 7. Participating theaters are listed here.

I was sick last week so I missed posting this. It’s not too late to catch The Princess Bride on Wednesday the 15th at 2 and 7 though.


1/19 & 1/22 – Fast Times at Ridgemont High

Ferris Bueller's Day Off

1/26 & 1/29 – Ferris Bueller’s Day Off

2/2 & 2/5 – Groundhog Day

Sleepless in Seattle

2/9 & 2/12 – Sleepless in Seattle


Machete Kills Bonnie and Clyde through Gravity

Ugh – still recovering material from the old computer. I hope to be back up to full speed by the end of the week.

I did consider myself lucky to be able to spend Sunday at the movies. We saw Bonnie & Clyde at Regal Cinemas as part of their classics series. My wife had business to take care of in Asheville so I stayed at the theater and caught Machete Kills and Gravity.

Bonnie and Clyde

Bonnie and Clyde: I had seen this many times growing up on TV. Up on the big screen however, it was a treat but the acting really comes across as stilted and stiff these days, especially the first act and the dancing around the issue of Clyde’s sexuality.

My guess on Bonnie & Clyde’s inclusion is that since History channel has a big miniseries of Bonnie and Clyde on December 8th, this would be good cross-merchandising. Sadly there were only a handful of people in the theater so they may not do future classics after this series of six.

Machete Kills: This is a no-brainer. If you enjoyed the carnage of Machete, this is precisely more of the same, only sillier. It would have been nice if Rodriguez had been a bit daring but the sequel doesn’t disappoint – it just doesn’t cover any new territory either.


Gravity: Wow, just wow. Gravity takes a simple premise (a cross between Open Water and Apollo 13) and absolutely transcends the material. Sandra Bullock and George Clooney are great and Ed Harris’ voice is welcome but in spite of the buzz for Sandra, this works because of the way Cuaron filmed it.

Gravity is a film that not only must be seen in a movie theater but must also be seen in 3D. After initially avoiding 3D due to headaches from my rather poor eyesight, I have now seen quite a few movies in 3D. In all of them except Gravity, the 3D was mere eye candy, something on the level of a special effect. Gravity’s 3D not only gives depth but also a you-are-there immediacy to the proceedings. The only caveat is that is possible to suffer some disorientation due to the nature of space.

Finally my wife spotted this sign at the counter:


She then pointed that these were essentially MREs (military meals-ready-to-eat) and we had a good laugh.

11 Things Modern Movie Theaters Have

In a counter-piece to yesterday’s ’11 Things We No Longer See in Movie Theaters’, I thought I’d post about ’11 Things We Should No Longer See in Movie Theaters (but still do)’ but instead ’11 Things Modern Movie Theaters Have’ now comes to mind.

1. Multichannel sound: Old movies had tinny, mono soundtracks. Yes, a long time ago, in pre-soundtrack days, you had someone playing the piano live and sometimes an actual orchestra. Today we have gone far beyond simple stereo to 7.1, Dolby True Digital, and more. When I attend a RPX showing at the Biltmore Grande, I expect and get bone-rattling sound.

2. Digital projection: I know there are plenty of 35mm and 70mm purists out there but digital projection is amazing. Properly calibrated, there is no loss of clarity EVER, you’ll never have a broken reel that stops the show or scratch marks on an old copy pulling you out of the experience.

3. Digital delivery: This goes along with the digital projection but digital delivery allows you to adjust on the fly. Sold out of the premiere of The Avengers 2? Simply dedicate another auditorium for it on the fly and still another if that show sells out.

4. Amazing back-catalogue: This is not heavily used yet but with new 4K and 8K digital masters being struck for home video, these masters can be played in theater. Studios use it for big releases such as Indiana Jones but Ken Hanke and Carolina Cinemas release a film every month in his Big Budget Classics series here. I saw North by Northwest two months ago, missed 2001 last month, and this month is Chinatown.

5. Free advertising: Cheap printing costs mean that many movie theaters give out 12×18 copies of posters. Not only is my movie room is decorated with them but I have a cubby filled with hundreds more in my home office.

6. Captive advertising: This one is not a plus for the consumer. Theaters are able to create another revenue stream through the ads they show before the movie, either on slides or video presentations. My wife actually enjoys the pre-movie video presentations like ‘The 20’.

Men in Black cups

7. Tie-in merchandise in-theater: Yes, older movies could have tie-in merchandise. Rasputin promoters offered beards for boys (paper cutouts). Today’s cheap plastics allow plenty of promotional opportunities. I have large high-quality plastic cups (that double in my house as popcorn containers) for Man of Steel, Ice Age, Pirates of the Caribbean, Men in Black, and more.

8. Tie-in merchandise out-of-theater: One word – McDonald’s. I have more than a dozen Minion toys for Despicable Me 2 thanks to a certain granddaughter’s inclination. Toys from summer blockbusters abound in Wal-Mart and Target. Full soundtracks and novelizations are available on or before a movie’s release.

9. Beer and wine: Not a big plus for me as I never really acquired a taste for either. Several area theaters sell them and Carolina Cinemas carries local brews on tap. None of our local theaters has a full ABC license but Studio Movie Grill in Charlotte has a full line of cocktails and adult milkshakes.

Cinebarre Breakfast

10. Real food: While major chains offer microwaveable pizzas, smaller chains and dedicated arms of the major chains offer a full dining experience. Carolina Cinemas offers a pretty decent pizza, Cinebarre serves excellent fries (if you can get served), and Studio Movie Grill has coconut chicken tenders. These all come at a price but it is nice to have the option.

Asheville Pizza

11. Second-run theaters: I’m not sure how much of a bonus this is because second-run theaters came about as a result of overpriced first-run theaters. Cinebarre and Asheville Pizza Company in our area have $3 ticket prices and show movies that have just left the regular cinemas. In response Carolina Cinemas has $5 Wednesday ($3 for Students) and Epic Cinemas has $5 Tuesday (though for some reason Warner and Sony won’t participate).

Why I Support Special Events & Edgar Wright Marathon

Regal Theater

I love special events, particularly movie events. I go to as many as feasible not just because I enjoy them but, if such events are not supported, they wither and die. I have attended a lot of Regal’s marathons in the past. Sadly they don’t do very well in Asheville. Part of the blame has to fall on the Biltmore Grande theater as they do very little, if any, advertising for them. The only reason I know about them is that I follow Regal news as part of my blog.

Die Hard Marathon

I have had a blast at the Dark Knight marathon, the Die Hard marathon (in spite of the last film), and the Iron Man marathon. The most grueling was of course the Lord of the Rings EXTENDED edition trilogy the week before The Hobbit opened. They knew you would need the week to recover before venturing back into the theater again.

Hot Dog Flight

It also allows me to justify my bucket of soda (seriously, any larger and I would have to have an employee carry it to my chair – I’m already on my third hernia) and flight of hot dogs.

Edgar Wright MarathonRegal is doing another wonderful marathon that doesn’t even require missing a day of work. On Thursday, August 22nd, they are showing all three of Edgar Wright’s Cornetto trilogy for $20. Regal members get the usual cheap combo coupon ($5 for medium popcorn and soda). Make sure to upgrade your soda to a large so you can get FREE refills. Tickets go on sale August 9th.

5:30 Shaun of the Dead

7:30 Hot Fuzz

10:00 The World’s End

Sadly, with the sparse attendance of Asheville events, this marathon will not be playing in my area. The nearest location for me is Knoxville – over two hours away. Much as I love going to Knoxville to visit the incredible Mckay’s used book (and CD, DVD, Blu-Ray, comic, game and videogame) store and eat at Brazeiros Brazilian steakhouse (very expensive but oh so nice), I would hate driving over the mountains for two hours after midnight.

Blue Cross Blue Shield and Wicked Humor

Normally I have to go out and seek FREE movie deals but this one came in the mail. Someone at Blue Cross/Blue Shield of North Carolina has a wicked sense of humor. To help explain the changes occurring next year with the Affordable Care Act, Blue Cross/Blue Shield is hosting a healthcare video and information session at our local expensive theater, The Biltmore Grande at 9:30 in the morning.

Blue CrossAfter the meeting and presentation, attendees were invited to stay and watch R.I.P.D. (in case you didn’t know that stands for Rest in Peace Department). Not only were they providing a first-run movie but they provided snacks as well (small soda, small popcorn, fruit snack). Woohoo!

R.I.P.D.R.I.P.D. was an enjoyable waste of two hours but the CGI was pretty lousy, the laughs were weak, and most of it appeared to be cribbed from Men in Black.

Despicable Me 2 and the Minions

Despicable MeA month or so ago I bought Despicable Me at Target to watch with my granddaughter (it was cheap and had a FREE ticket to Despicable Me 2). She loved it and calls it the Minion movie. We then had to collect the McDonald’s kids meal toys (the tiny one was a Target freebie).

MinionsNot to be outdone, my ever creative wife made a Minion shirt for our darling.

Dorothy MinionWe finally went to see Despicable Me 2 last weekend (Jenny, my daughter Els, my granddaughter Dorothy, and I). A fun time was had by all. Despicable Me 2 was not as good as the first but we all enjoyed it – Dorothy was rapt!

E & DSadly the Biltmore Grande had gotten rid of their awesome promotional display: a whack-a-mole with minions! I really wanted to buy it from them and put it in the movie room, even if it was cardboard. The Regal Biltmore gets the best displays.

Despicable Me 2

Pacific Rim and My Own Personal Movie Theater

I have been hoping that Guillermo del Toro’s latest film, Pacific Rim, would rescue me from the summer doldrums. This year’s crop of blockbusters has been disappointing, ranging from the silly, mediocre, or problematic (Iron Man 3, The Lone Ranger) to the downright awful, boring, or misconceived (Man of Steel, The Fast & The Furious 6, The Great Gatsby). I enjoyed Monsters University but not as much as Monsters, Inc., Star Trek: Into Darkness but not as much as Star Trek, World War Z but not as much as the book.

Pacific RimNormally I go to my beloved Carolina Cinemas but I was free on Wednesday morning with a $12 voucher ticket from Cinnamon Toast Crunch. Regal Cinema’s Biltmore Grande has a RPX (Regal Premium Experience – basically a not quite Imax) theater and was showing Pacific Rim at 10 a.m. Matinee price for a 2D RPX ticket is $12. There was a line in front of me at the box office but they were all there to see the $1 children’s movie.

RPX emptyApparently no one wants to spend $12 at 10 in the morning. I had the entire RPX auditorium to myself for Pacific Rim. Woohoo! Using the $12 voucher in combination with my Regal card netted me a FREE popcorn (saving it for this weekend’s Despicable Me 2 family trip). I also grabbed two FREE Pacific Rim posters on my way out for the movie room.

Pacific Rim (2013) – Rated PG-13

“As a war between humankind and monstrous sea creatures wages on, a former pilot and a trainee are paired up to drive a seemingly obsolete special weapon in a desperate effort to save the world from the apocalypse.”

One Line Review: If you like giant monsters or robots, then go see this on a giant screen!

Pacific Rim on a RPX screen was just what the doctor ordered. It is not a masterpiece like Pan’s Labyrinth. The dialogue is very cheesy, particularly the speeches Idris Elba is asked to give. The visuals are very dark at times and as such may have difficulty transferring to the small screen.

Acting is definitely a weak point. Charlie Day and Burn (Torchwood) Gorman show personality as scientists but are often annoying in their mannerisms. Charlie Hunnam is bland as Raleigh Becket. Idris Elba is good but is saddled with the worst dialogue. Rinko Kikuchi isn’t given enough to do and Ron Perlman hams it up.

The visuals are magnificent in general but occasionally are murky enough to make it difficult to tell what is happening. The kaiju (monsters) are of course the highlight of the film. There are several long wonderful fight scenes between the kaiju and the jaeger (giant robots) as well as several smaller scenes involving each. Sound effects are marvelous (seat shaking in RPX).

Dramatically this movie is very cliched, particularly in the last act. Dialogue is corny and wooden but only serves to be reminiscent of the movies Guillermo del Toro is paying homage to. This is obviously a labor of love for him.

If you want to see giant monsters and giant robots beat up on each other and destroy cities, then go see Pacific Rim. If not, then there isn’t much reason to recommend it.