R.I.P. Cinebarre

Cinebarre

Yesterday, July 20th, was closing day for our Cinebarre. The Cinebarre chain is doing fine with a new one opening in Boulder, Colorado shortly. Our Asheville Cinebarre was the first and I was there for opening and for their one year anniversary celebration. Unfortunately, the dying mall it was attached to was bought by developers (yet again – the fifth owner in about as many years). The developers are putting an outlet mall in its place and apparently movie theaters are not compatible with outlet malls.

Cinebarre

 

Going out with some style, all food & drink was 75% off yesterday. Needless to say, I spent the entire day at the theater, watching three separate $1 movies and having breakfast, lunch, and dinner there. My wife, daughter, and granddaughter joined me for the final showing of Captain America: Winter Soldier. One of their bartenders even came up with a couple of farewell drinks. My wife and I each had one of the Sweet Farewells.

Cinebarre

 

Finally there was a heartfelt plea on the tip jar. I hope everyone gave as generously as we did because, as of this morning, the waitstaff are looking for jobs.

 

Cinebarre

 

Farewell Cinebarre! You will be missed.

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).

Jack the Giant Cinebarre Slayer

WARNING: Skip today’s post if you don’t want to listen to my whining. You have been warned.

Every so often you forget why you stopped going somewhere and, for the sake of convenience, give it another shot. The Big Love festival was rained out on Sunday and we had several hours to kill. The easiest way to do this on a rainy Sunday in Asheville with our granddaughter seemed to be Cinebarre. Our local Cinebarre shows second run films and charges only $1 for admission on Sunday.

cinebarreWe arrived at 3:10 for a 4:10 showing. Only one of the five movies was kid-friendly and there was a steady stream of families exiting as we arrived so obviously Jack the Giant-Slayer had just let out. We waited for the crowds to thin and bought our tickets at the bar. When we inquired about seating, we were told that it would be another ten to twenty minutes before the film let out. I refrained from pointing out that it clearly already had as I knew they would need to clean.

Jack the Giant Slayer

After waiting patiently until 3:40 for them to finish, we were the first people in the theater. We grabbed our seats and, being quite hungry (we skipped lunch because we were coming here), ordered. They were apparently out of order slips so they just had blank pieces of paper that don’t stand up in the holder like they show you. I filled out the order slip with “Large Coke, Large Diet Coke, 2 ice waters, french fries, popcorn w/ butter, Bull Durham pizza”. The two ice waters were because a large soda at Cinebarre is $5 for 32 oz. with NO refill.

People continued to file in and waitstaff started to take orders – not our order mind you but orders from patrons who had not even been seated yet. Again, I patiently waited for over fifteen minutes. No service at all in spite of our displayed order. No response to hand-raising. Finally a frantic arm-waving by both my wife and I managed to attract the attention of a waitress who begrudgingly took our slip, immediately informing us this wasn’t her row. She then looked at the slip and informed us that, in spite of ordering almost $40 worth of food and drinks, we would have to go back out to the bar if we wanted to order ice water.

Off I go, hiking back to the bar. The bar is also where they sell tickets so at this point the line at the bar was a half-dozen deep. Again I waited patiently and the line moved briskly. Once I order the water, I’m pointed to a bus bin where they have five or six waters made. I head back with the waters which is good because not only is the movie starting but it will still be a while before we receive the sodas.

Eventually the sodas arrive (without comment) followed some time later by the pizza and the french fries. My wife asks if the popcorn, which my granddaughter has been asking for now for over forty-five minutes, will be arriving any time soon. It eventually does, satisfying our darling. We splurge and order some potato skins. Once again, no one catches that we’ve ordered and we have to flag down a waitress during the movie. When the bill arrives it’s two separate bills because, as the waitress tells me, she forgot the potato skins – thus making it my problem instead of re-ringing the purchase.

Oddly, the bill is dropped off in a timely manner and payment managed efficiently (well apart from paying two separate bills).

Note to Cinebarre: If I’m going to drop $50 on a second-run movie, my experience needs to be pleasant. This wasn’t. Normally I’d complain to them but my previous experience with them has been one of utter indifference so I’ll just put my two cents in here and not go back.

Cinebarre – Asheville, NC

CinebarreCinebarre, how I would love to love you. Cinebarre is Regal’s answer to the dine at the movies concept. The chain appears to show first-run films but our local Asheville branch shows second-run films.

Tickets are a very inexpensive $3. If that is too much for you, tickets are $2 on Tuesday. If that is still out of your price range then go after 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday or all day on Sunday when admission is only $1.

The first drawback to Cinebarre is that it is located in the worst mall I have ever seen. Not only could the anchor chains not survive but the mall couldn’t even support a Gamestop or a bookstore. The anchors for this mall are a discount-only Dillard’s (known locally as Dirty Dillards), a Dollar Tree, and a furniture store. Eclectic stores inside the mall include a soccer store, an indoor flea market stall, and Christian Karate. The only chain restaurant surviving is Chick-Fil-A. Anyway just ignore the mall, drive around the back, and there is Cinebarre.

Cinebarre Bar

Cinebarre has an outside screen on their wall where they occasionally show movies during the summer. There is always plenty of parking. I find that the box office is often unmanned but you can just go up to the bar and buy tickets. The interior of the building is plastered with over-sized classic movie posters and there are several seats and tables in the waiting area.

Cinebarre was planned as essentially an adults-only movie theater but their rules have evolved over the years. Here is the current iteration of the rules:

Cinebarre is an 18 and up establishment.
Anyone under 18 must be accompanied by a responsible adult over the age of 21.
No children under 3 years old are allowed except on Cry Baby Day.
Cinebarre caters to an adult clientele and strives to offer an entertaining and mature environment.

Under the current rules, I don’t find the audience any more or less disruptive than a normal theater. There are still people checking their cellphones and occasionally chatting as though they were in their living room.

The screens are fine, image clarity is fine, movie audio is fine – nothing special but no real defects. Tables and seats are laid out well with adequate room for patrons and waitstaff to pass through.

Cinebarre BreakfastCinebarre has a special brunch menu for Saturday and Sunday mornings including a make-it-yourself Mimosa kit. All menu items (normal and breakfast) are movie-themed. The Blade Runners (french fries), my favorite, are fresh and delicious. My daughter likes the Body Snatchers (potato skins). Food is pretty nice but boy does it get expensive fast – it is probably a good idea to have a meal before coming in or be prepared to drop about $25 per person.

Drinks are probably the most annoying thing on the menu. At a time when essentially all restaurants offer free refills as do most theaters (albeit on large size only), Cinebarre has two sizes, 20 oz. ($3.50) and 32 oz.($5), and neither one is refillable so if you need two 32 oz. Diet Cokes, be prepared to shell out $10 just for a soda.

The admission price is super, the food is good, and the movie experience nice (albeit at a price). So why don’t I love Cinebarre? Here goes – if you frequent any establishment enough times (restaurant, theater, or retail store), you will almost always encounter some problem that needs resolving. Every single time we have had a problem at Cinebarre (which is not often), that problem has been met with utter indifference by the management – the waitstaff can be uneven but are generally good.

By contrast, every time I have had a problem at the Carolina, it has been dealt with swiftly and politely by both management and staff. This difference is why we rarely go to Cinebarre but constantly go to the Carolina. I know if anything goes wrong while I am trying to enjoy myself at the Carolina, it will be taken care of. I was even present at ActionFest (Carolina) when an unruly patron was ejected from a showing. On the flipside, I know that if something goes wrong at Cinebarre, it is typically pointless to mention it.

FREE FREE FREE July Showings in Asheville

I somehow missed posting all the July FREE showings in Asheville. The FREE Tuesday night showings by Asheville Film Society are at 8 o’clock in the Carolina Cinema Lounge. Membership is NOT required to attend.

July 3rd – Women in Love (1969, Ken Russell) – Oliver Reed, Glenda Jackson, Alan Bates
July 10th – Death Takes a Holiday (1934) – Fredric March
July 17th – The Little Giant (1933) – Edward G. Robinson
July 24th – Show Boat (1936, James Whale) – Irene Dunn
July 31st – Law of Desire (1987, Pedro Almodovar)

Thursday Horror Picture Show starts at 8 in the Cinema Lounge with a serial episode at 7:40. All showings are FREE.
July 5th – The Ambulance (1990, Larry Cohen)
July 12th – Black Friday (1940) – Karloff and Lugosi
July 19th – The Bride of Frankenstein (1935, James Whale) – Karloff
July 26th – The Black Pit of Dr. M (1959, Fernando Mendez)

FREE Kids movies every Tuesday and Wednesday at 11 am at the Carolina.

7/3 & 7/4 The Karate Kid (the most recent one)

7/10-7/11 The Smurfs

7/17-7/18 Puss in Boots

Cinebarre puts on FREE outdoor showings every Tuesday night. Bring your own chair.

7/3 Raising Arizona

7/10 Superbad

7/17 Talladega Nights

7/24 Ghostbusters

7/31 The Lost Boys

 

Birthdaypalooza, Vincent Price, & Hammer

Well I’m officially one year closer to my end of days. I did enjoy a wonderful birthday though having lunch with my wife and daughter at my favorite Mexican restaurant, Papa’s & Beer (Carnitas Fajitas, Horchada, and Flan for dessert – delicious) followed by a $3 movie at Cinebarre (Dark Shadows – not so good).

The evening’s entertainment was Doc Chey’s (Spicy basil noodles with chicken) with my wife followed by dessert at the French Broad Chocolate Lounge (Chocolate Mocha Stout cake – good, vanilla milkshake – not so good) with some dear friends. My dear friends were not supposed to know it was my birthday but Jen let it slip. They brought me a magnificent addition to my movie books.

A few years ago my wife bought me this wonderful book on the history of Hammer studios. It is chockful of wonderful photographs and provides wonderful detail on a wide variety of Hammer movies – though mostly their horror and science fiction offerings. I think author Marcus Hearn achieved the perfect balance of knowledge and entertainment to make this not only a wonderful, breezy read but also a suitable coffeetable book.

The Hammer Story apparently did very well because Marcus Hearn followed it up in 2009 with Hammer Glamour, an oversized hardcover about the wonderful ladies in the Hammer movies. In 2010 Hearn released another oversized hardcover, The Art of Hammer, that is dedicated to the poster art of Hammer films. I’m not sure if he’s done yet but last year Hearn released The Hammer Vault (yes I think the title should be The Vault of Hammer but that’s not my decision), a compendium of rare material that Hearn had not yet released.

“This remarkable journey through the Hammer Vault includes props, annotated script pages, unused poster artwork, production designs, rare promotional material and private correspondence. Hundreds of rare and previously unseen stills help to create a rich souvenir of Hammer’s legacy, from the X certificate classics of the 1950s to the studio’s latest productions.

Written and compiled by the official Hammer Films historian Marcus Hearn, and featuring exclusive contributions from the actors and filmmakers associated with the company, this is the most lavish book ever published on the legendary House of Horror. “

I haven’t bought any of these books because I have yet to read my copy of Universal Studios Monsters. Our dear friends bought me The Hammer Vault and I was quite thrilled. I’m looking forward to reading it so much that I’ll probably just skip the Universal book for now.

My mother-in-law absolutely overwhelmed me this year. My movie room is plastered with literally hundreds of movie posters and placards but they were all modern and the vast majority were FREE from the movie theaters over the last few years (three of the four walls are covered in 12×18 plain black frames to hold the 11×17 posters).

For my birthday, my mother-in-law bought me the above original poster for The Last Man on Earth (she knows I love Vincent Price). I don’t want to know what she spent on it as I know collecting old movie posters is well beyond our means. We’re having it professionally framed (yikes!) and I’ll post a before and after in a few weeks. My eldest daughter also got me The Lord of the Rings trilogy on Blu-Ray in steelbook from Best Buy. I don’t know why but I do love those steelbook cases.

All in all a pretty sweet birthday.

A Little FREE and a Bit of a Bargain

I love FREE. I talk about it all the time. I give a lot of credit to Carolina Cinemas who often have four or more FREE things a week. Still there are other cinemas in town.

* Cinebarre Asheville has an outdoor fest this summer. All films are FREE. bring a chair or blanket – seating starts at 7 and the movie at dusk. Movies are projected on the outside wall of the theater.

6/5 – The Hangover

6/12 – The Princess Bride

6/19 – Speed

6/26 – The Breakfast Club

7/3 – Raising Arizona

7/10 – Superbad

7/17 – Talladega Nights

7/24 – Ghostbusters

7/31 – The Lost Boys

8/7 – Across the Universe

* Sometimes you can’t get FREE and you have to settle for a bargain. Cinebarre Asheville shows second-run films and Monday-Thursday after 9 PM and all day on Sunday, their movies are only $1!

* Another bargain: Epic Theater in Hendersonville (just south of Asheville and not misnamed – their screens are huge) has $5 Tuesdays. All films any time Tuesday are $5  except for Warner and Sony (boo!), who apparently need a larger piece of pie. There is a $2 surcharge for 3D movies.

* How about a comparison of a real bargain to something completely foreign to a bargain. My wife and I are members of the Asheville Film Society. Asheville Film Society membership is $10 a year. Benefits include:

– $1 off all movie tickets at Carolina Cinemas (which shows both art house and first run titles)

– FREE refills on any size popcorn at Carolina Cinemas. I don’t eat popcorn but our movie buddies take advantage of this every Thursday at the FREE Horror Show

– FREE advance screenings to some very well-chosen films (last year I caught Blackthorn and Point Blank but missed several others).

– They also sponsor the FREE Tuesday night screenings at Carolina Cinema though you do not have to be a member to attend those.

– An assortment of minor retail bonuses: $1 off Asheville Pizza & Brewing’s pizzas, $5 off a subscription at Orbit DVD, 10% off used CDs and DVDs at Harvest Records.

On the other hand, membership to the Asheville Cinema Society is $300 a year ($150 a season, the season is six months)! What do you get for THIRTY times the price of an Asheville Film Society membership? Quite frankly, not much.

Twelve specific movies and six festival movies. If you go to ALL eighteen movies then this averages to $8.33 a ticket (not $8.30 as they list but that is nitpicking). The problem with this is that it is twelve movies that they pick and six movies of your choosing out of the limited pool shown at the festival. Their most recent movie was Sushi: The Global Catch.

From their website: “The average cost per film is now lower than ticket prices at local movie theaters.”

Well sure if you want to ignore Cinebarre pricing ($1-$3), Asheville Pizza Company pricing ($3), matinee pricing at all the cinemas, Tuesday pricing at Epic ($5), student pricing, children pricing, senior citizen pricing, special showing at Carolina pricing (FREE – $7). Not only that but purchasing a ticket at a theater allows you to choose your movie.

I will say that Asheville Cinema Society does have presentation down well. Q&A’s occur after each movie and Sushi was served before Sushi: The Global Catch but it is clear that this price point is meant to keep away the riff-raff. The Asheville Cinema Society recently slashed their pricing in half. Seasons were originally $300! They also continually advertise on their website that they have a limited number of memberships available. 😛

The competing societies are very partisan. The Asheville Film Society events are exclusively at Carolina Cinemas. They are often mentioned in the Mountain Xpress, the leading alternative newspaper in Asheville. This is not particularly surprising as Ken Hanke is a founder of the society and a film critic for Mountain Xpress.

The Asheville Cinema Society meetings used to be held exclusively at the Biltmore Grande theater. They have since added a downtown location (though not the Fine Arts theater). They are often mentioned in the Asheville Citizen-Times, the main local paper.

 

Lazy Weekend Musings – Lost & Asheville Film Society

I am beginning to feel like a shill for Carolina Cinemas. Previously I have plugged for them on Actionfest many times and also for their FREE Thursday night horror movie (this Thursday – 1931s Frankenstein!). This plug is a little mixed however.

Carolina Cinemas has been playing Lost for FREE (FREE is such an important word that it should always be in all caps) on Tuesday nights in their cinema lounge. With the Lost finale occurring on Sunday, I was concerned that the cinema lounge might have been reserved for something else.

I called Sunday afternoon to verify that Lost would be playing that evening at 7. I was told yes – not no or even maybe. My long-suffering wife drove all of us into Asheville. When we arrived the cinema lounge was being used by a private group. We arrived early (6:15) and asked at the concession stand if Lost would be playing at 7 and were assured that it would be. When the group was still going strong at ten minutes until 7, my wife went back downstairs and asked again.

Bizarrely this time she was told no. With no time remaining to get home and watch it (Carolina Cinemas is in Asheville and we do not live in Asheville), we were quite naturally very annoyed. We found some members of management and voiced that annoyance in what I hope was a respectful manner.

Management was quite receptive. They comped us three movie tickets even though Lost was a FREE feature and were properly apologetic. They also went to the extra trouble to find out that Lost was playing at Cinebarre – a movie theater on the West end of Asheville. In my mind, this stellar handling of a bad situation really redeemed them.

We hustled over to Cinebarre and enjoyed Popcorn and French Fries while watching the marathon four and a half hour conclusion to Lost. We enjoyed it though took some issue with how they ended it – not surprising as this is Lost we are talking about.

The Asheville Film Society

Bill Banowsky, owner of Carolina Cinemas is setting up the Asheville Film Society as a nonprofit organization and Ken (Cranky) Hanke will be serving as artistic director. Lost will be replaced by Asheville Film Society movies every Tuesday at 8 in the Cinema Lounge. The first film being shown is the classic neo-noir Blood Simple from the Coen brothers. As with Thursday night horror, the Tuesday night films will be FREE and open to the public.

Upcoming Tuesday Asheville Film Society films – FREE at Carolina Cinemas 8 pm

May 24th – Blood Simple (1984)

June 1st – Rushmore (1998)

June 8th – The Times of Harvey Milk (1984) –  The documentary not the biopic Milk

June 15th – Manhattan (1979)

June 22nd – Twentieth Century (1934)

June 29th – Tetro (2009)

Upcoming Thursday horror – FREE at Carolina Cinemas 8 pm

May 27th – Frankenstein (1931)

June 3rd – The Lair of the White Worm (1988)

June 10th – The Gorgon (1964) – Woohoo! One of my favorite Hammer films starring Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing.

June 17th – The Sentinel (1977)

Clash of the Titans – Theatrical

My wife, daughter and I went to see Clash of the Titans on Friday at Cinebarre. My daughter loves mythology and I love monsters. My wife came along because she loves us. Oh and she also love the milkshakes which Cinebarre serves at your table – I had chocolate, my wife had cookies & cream, and I am not sure which one my daughter had (mint chocolate chip?).

The original Clash of the Titans is currently available on instant Netflix. The remake is only available in theaters so is the remake worth your hard-earned money? In a word,

NO!

PASS: Clash of the Titans (2010) – Rated PG-13 for fantasy action violence, some frightening images and brief sensuality.

“If he is to save the life of the beautiful Princess Andromeda (Alexa Davalos), the valiant Perseus (Sam Worthington) — born to a god but raised as a man — must lead a team of intrepid warriors on a quest to battle a host of powerful, beastly enemies. This sweeping fantasy epic, a remake of the 1981 hit, also stars Liam Neeson as Zeus, Ralph Fiennes as Hades, Danny Huston as Poseidon and Gemma Arterton as Io.”

Where oh where did this go wrong? The original is no classic but is beloved as the last film animated by Ray Harryhausen. The actors in the original are quite wooden but the creatures are absolutely wonderful.

The studios hired hot French action director Louis Leterrier to remake the 1981 film. Previously Leterrier took a good property that had misfired (The Hulk) and remade it into something really cool and worthy of the property (The Incredible Hulk).

The original script, written by Beverley Cross, took many liberties with mythology. The new script, hammered out by 100 blind-folded monkeys on typewriters – wait I mean three separate writers, just chucks mythology and sense out of the window.

Writer Travis Beacham previously wrote Seconds and Dog Days of Summer. Writers Matt Manfredi and Phil Hay previously wrote Aeon Flux and the Tuxedo. I am really not sure who to blame but the writing is dreadful.

I was pretty much cringing through the first half-hour of the film.

When they first show the gods, my wife whispered to me, “Oh my its the gods of the round table”. The gods are shown in full shiny Arthurian-lite battle armor. Not only do they borrow from Arthurian mythos but later in the film, we have Djinn. Never mind that they are not Djinn in any traditional sense of the word.

Someone obviously liked Ralph Fiennes in Harry Potter. Here he plays Hades but they told him not to bother acting. Just play him exactly as if you were Voldemort. That was the sum of his acting direction.

Liam Neeson, normally a wonderful actor, sleepwalks his way through his performance (paycheck please!) but is still of course fun to watch.

I have now seen two (this and Terminator Salvation) of the three tentpole movies that have starred Sam Worthington. I am trying to reserve judgment until I see Avatar but I believe Sam is the new Keanu Reeves. He has no emotional range here at all.

Mads Mikkelson is quite good as Draco and stands out from the rest of the cookie-cutter characters. Sadly he still has to work within the script.

The writing direction for Hades is to take those parts that would normally belong to Poseidon (you know god of the seas, oceans, etc.) and assign them to Hades. So the lord of the Underworld releases the Kraken from the depths of the sea. Hrrrm.

I understand the god/mythology/religion/analogies but they basically portray Hades as Satan throughout the film. All other god roles besides Zeus and Hades are reduced to essentially window dressing.

Apparently Andromeda (Alexa Davos) was not a sufficient love interest for Perseus so we also have Io (Gemma Arterton). In normal Greek mythology Zeus ends up taking Io as a lover and turns her into a heifer to hide her from Hera. She has no part at all in the Perseus story but hey why stop now.

In addition to rewriting mythology, the story makes no sense. Perseus does not live in Argos, is not romantically involved with Andromeda, and apparently does not know anyone in Argos. In spite of this he leads a group of warriors to certain death so that one woman will not have to be sacrificed to save the city.

The action is fun after the first half hour. The Scorpiok fight is quite exciting. These and a few of the performances are the only things that drag this up to the pass level.

The Medusa, which should be the showpiece of the film, looks very plastic-y compared to the rest of the effects. It almost looks as if it the final rendering pass was skipped.

By all accounts AVOID the 3-D version. This film was not made with 3-D in mind – 3D was added in post-production and by all accounts, it is terrible (though I went to the 2D version and do not have firsthand knowledge of the 3D).

People Watch: The other gods have extremely little screen time and if lucky get to utter a single line. Alexander Siddig (Dr. Bashir on Star Trek DS9) plays Hermes. Danny Huston (Colonel Stryker in Wolverine) plays Poseidon. Izabella Miko (Coyote Ugly) plays Athena.

A Few Notes on the Oscars

Normally we do a big comfort food fest at the house on Oscar night (Oreo truffles – see below, chips and clam dip, etc.).

Oreo Truffles taste amazing (albeit too rich for my wife) and require only three ingredients. 1 normal-size package of Oreos (we like the mint kind the best), 1 package of cream cheese (softened – 15 seconds in the microwave works for us), and a container of dipping chocolate (2 packages of melted Bakers chocolate can be substituted but the container one is easier to work with).

1. Crush all the Oreos.

2. Mix in the softened cream cheese.

3. Roll 1-inch balls.

4. Dip in chocolate.

5. Refrigerate for an hour.

You can also get fancy and use white chocolate or decorate them but it is all we can do to wait until they harden before devouring them.

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This year we went to a local specialty theater, Cinebarre that was playing the Oscars on their largest screen for free. We had a really nice time. Cinebarre has table service and their food is quite good (albeit expensive).

Dan O’Bannon was completely missed in the In Memoriam section of the Oscars. He was instrumental in the special effects for Star Wars. He directed Return of the Living Dead and The Resurrected.

On the cult hit Dark Star, he was an editor, production designer, special effects supervisor, and writer. He also starred as Sgt. Pinback.

His greatest body of work was in screenwriting. He wrote or co-wrote Dead & Buried, Lifeforce, Total Recall, and Screamers. His biggest contribution for me was in the creation of my favorite movie series, Alien. I think that it is a shame that the Academy missed him.

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I cannot comment too much on the Awards themselves as there were no categories where I saw all the films. I am so comfortable at home that it is extremely rare that I venture out to the movies. One only has to wait about 4 months for a movie to come out.

Of the nominees the only ones I had seen were Star Trek, District 9, Inglourious Basterds, Up, Coraline and Transformers 2. Of those all were excellent and I would highly recommend them EXCEPT Transformers 2 which was big, loud and stupid. I guess that is why the nomination for Transformers 2 was in the Sound category.

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The show was very enjoyable. Having two hosts was a nice change of pace but I have to admit that Hugh Jackman was a hard act to follow. I loved the Neil Patrick Harris number and would love to see him host someday.

Obviously I have bumped up The Hurt Locker which has been in my queue for a while.