Twenty-One Dollar Movie Tickets

Last night, Phillip and I watched a film named A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night. It was the latest from our Netfix DVD queue. I loved it a lot. It’s about a vampire, but I wouldn’t call it a vampire movie. It takes place in a fictional Iranian town named Bad City. Everyone speaks Persian. It was filmed in California, and shot in gorgeous black & white. One main character is known only as the girl. She’s the vampire. The other main character is a rockabilly loner named Arash. The girl and Arash have a platonic romance going, but I wouldn’t call it a romantic movie.

Here’s the trailer, which doesn’t describe the film any better than I did:

Today, Phillip and I rode light rail to Downtown, to watch the movie Atomic Blonde. We’d planned on watching it in 2D. Because of the Seafair parade, we planned on getting there early, and just hanging around a bit.

We arrived at the theater ten minutes before the 4DX showing of Atomic Blonde would start. We decided to experience what 4DX is all about. Our tickets cost $21 each.

4dx

4DX is this new gimmick that supposedly immerses you in the whole movie experience. Your big living room style moves, rolls, and shakes with what’s going on in the movie. Air and water mist blow on you at appropriate times. Strobe lights flash.

Atomic Blonde was a great, action-packed movie. The 4DX experience wasn’t so impressive.

Midway through the movie, Phillip whispered to me: “Never again”. I agree. It was a unique experience, but not worth twenty-one bucks.

There were a few times when the 4DX worked well. A character is surprised by a sudden gunshot, and I felt air whiz past my ear. It added to the shock. During a fight scene, my chair jerked around, and punched me in the back. It was quite effective. Most of the time, however, it felt unnecessary. When a car in driving along a road, it didn’t add to anything to feel my chair vibrating.

After the movie, Phillip and I walked over to Target and did some shopping.

Then we stopped into Steak n Shake for lunch. We’d never been there before. It lived up to the hype.

Steak n Shake

Then we walked over to University Street Station, and caught light rail to International District/Chinatown Station. From there, we rode the streetcar to Capitol Hill.

Japantown

On Capitol Hill, we stopped into Phoenix Comics and Games, long enough for me to buy Volume Four of Saga.

Then we stopped into Rocket Fizz to stock up on weird candy and soda.

Then we walked home.

It’s been a fun day.

Two People In The Peloponnese

Last night, we watched the final part of the Before trilogy. I didn’t write about it last night, and I’m not sure what to write about it now. I’m stunned. Before Midnight was excellent. I loved it. It’s just that it wasn’t what I was expecting. That’s a good thing – it’s a continuation, not a rehash. I’m just not sure how I feel about how things turned out.

Before Midnight starts in an airport. Jesse is sending his son home to his mother (Jesse’s ex-wife). Jesse is over-controlling his son, making sure his understands about the flight transfer, and telling him to let the airline personnel take him to the proper gate.

The airport is in Greece. Céline is waiting by the car outside. Jesse gets in, and drives them back to the writer’s house, where they have been guests, while their twin nine-year-old girls sleep in the back seat.

Over dinner, couples of various ages talk about love and marriage. We learn that one couple has arranged to watch the girls, and have paid for a hotel room, as a gift, so that Céline and Jesse can have some time alone.

It’s nine years after Jesse and Céline took that walk in Paris, in Before Sunset, and eighteen years after Jesse persuaded Céline to get off the train in Vienna, in Before Sunrise. This time, there is no time constraint, no train to catch, no plane to catch. Céline and Jesse are together. They have all the time in the world.

Jesse is a successful author, working on his next book, which, for a change, will not be about two people meeting at random every nine years. Céline is deciding on her next career move, having taken time off to raise twin girls.

Like the previous two films, Before Midnight features those wonderful, long take, conversations. The drive from the airport, for instance, consists of a static camera mounted to the hood of the car, while Jesse and Céline talk. It’s filmed up close, so we don’t get to see much of the Peloponnese scenery. It’s just them talking. Once again, it’s the acting skills of Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy that carry this film, and make it wonderful.

But, Before Midnight is not like the previous two films. The awkwardness of two people getting to know each other has given way to an established couple who know each other all too well. Those conversations have turned from discovery to debate.

There are many surprises in Before Midnight.

This is an amazing trilogy. All three films are masterpieces.

Two People In Paris

I went to Writers’ Group today, having written nothing. I read a couple of book reviews from my blog. Those seem to be popular.

On my walk home, I stopped into the library and picked up a book for the Reading Challenge. Poor Atlantis trilogy.

Tonight, Phillip and I watched the second film in the Before trilogy: Before Sunset. Phillip has admitted to me that he didn’t love the first film, Before Sunrise, as much as I did. I think we both loved this one, however.

It’s nine years later, and Jesse and Célene meet accidentally (maybe?) in Paris. Jesse is on a book tour, promoting a novel he’d written about two people who spend a night in Vienna. He has a little more than a hour before he has to leave for the airport, to catch a plane back to America. So, they go get coffee, and then go take a walk.

First off, is the question: Did either one of them show up at the train station, six months after that night?

Before Sunset is an hour and twenty minutes long. The story is told in real time. There are amazing, beautiful, long, unbroken shots of Jesse and Célene walking through Paris, talking. I suspect that if technology had allowed him to, Richard Linklater would have made the entire film as one continuous shot.

Jesse and Célene have both grown older. They’ve moved on with their lives. The feelings are obviously there, however. Célene keeps reminding Jesse that he has a plane to catch. Jesse keeps finding something else for them to do together, and Célene agrees.

There is love, reality, and hurt going on between those two in that trip through Paris.

Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy did masterful acting, again.

Before Sunrise ended with an unanswered question. Before Sunset does, too.

This second film is even better than the first. It is amazing.

 

Poor Atlantis

The Atlantis trilogy, A. G. Riddle, got lost in my rush through the 2017 Reading Challenge. I’ve tried to find a way to fit them into one of the Categories, but I can’t. They’re very good books. All three have been stacked on the coffee table since the beginning of the year. Kelly gave the third book, The Atlantis World, for Christmas, over four months ago, and I haven’t even read the first page.

Last night, I found myself without a book to read. I returned Asleep yesterday, and the next Challenge book is In Transit. I opened The Atlantis Plague, the second book, and picked up where I’d left off, three-fourths of the way through the 400-page book. It was surprisingly easy to pick up the story.

Unfortunately for it, The Atlantis Plague will be set aside again when the library book arrives.

This morning, Phillip started reading the first book, The Atlantis Gene.

This afternoon, Phillip and I boarded a 49 bus and rode to the U-District for a 3:50 movie at Sundance Cinemas. Somehow, I’d overestimated how long it would take us to get ready and walk up the hill. We must have caught an earlier bus than planned, because we stepped off the bus at 2:38. We’d bought our tickets online, so we spent some time hanging around in Trader Joe’s, and in the upper lounge of the theater.

We saw Personal Shopper, with Cristina, Michael, and Craig.

I loved this movie – I loved it a lot. It reminded me, somewhat, of the book I’d just finished reading: Asleep, by Banana Yoshimoto. Personal Shopper is a ghost story, but not in a scary way. It’s also much more than that. It was character-driven. It was also enigmatic – very enigmatic.

Craig walked out during the movie – it wasn’t to his taste. After the movie, Michael, Cristina, Phillip, and I walked up to The Ave, discussing the movie as we walked. It was that kind of movie – one that needs to be discussed if you’re going to understand it.

At The Ave, Michael had to say goodbye. Then Cristina and Phillip and I had dinner at CaliBurger, where we continued to discuss the movie.

Then Phillip and I rode a 49 home.

Two People In Vienna

Recently, Phillip and I saw two very good movies in the theater: Get Out (An interracial couple spend a weekend with her rich liberal parents. It’s basically a horror movie, but it’s also something so much more.) and Life (An alien creature gets loose aboard the International Space Station and kills the crew members. It’s basically an Alien rip-off, but it’s very well made.)

We recently watched a good movie on our Netflix queue: La Vie en Rose, a biography of Édith Piaf. Phillip found this one. I enjoyed it, even though I’m annoyed by non-linear biographies. (It’s been done too many times. I no longer see the point. Just tell the story.)

We recently saw two very bad, awful, terrible movies on our Netflix queue: Wolfcop and Cabin Fever. We found both of these movies in trailers preceding other movies. In both cases, they looked like mindless, so-bad-it’s-fun entertainment. In both cases, they were just bad.

Last night, though, we watched the most amazing, wonderful film I’ve seen in years. I’ve been reading about 1995’s Before Sunrise, in film lists of masterpiece films, for years. I’ve been wanting to see it. I slipped it into our Netflix queue, along with the second and third film in the trilogy, without telling Phillip. (We both do that, from time to time.) It arrived in our mailbox on Tuesday.

I can’t stop thinking about Before Sunrise.

Two strangers strike up a conversation on a train in Europe. They bond to each other right away. Jesse (Ethan Hawke) is an American tourist. His vacation hasn’t gone as planned, so he’s been spending his remaining days riding around on trains. He’s heading for Vienna, where he’ll catch a flight back to the United States in the morning. He doesn’t have enough money left for a hotel room, so he’ll spend the night walking around Vienna. Céline (Julie Delpy) is a French college student. She’s returning to Paris, after having visited her grandmother in Budapest.

The train arrives in Vienna. Jesse persuades Céline to get off the train with him. She does, and they spend the night walking around Vienna together. And that’s the film: One hour and 40 minutes of two people talking.

They start off as strangers in an unfamiliar city. What should they talk about, and what should they see? They wander, they sightsee, and they talk. They have their first kiss, and their first argument. And they talk some more. They fall in love, knowing that, when the morning comes, they’ll go their separate ways and, most likely, never see each other again.

The power of this simple film comes from its subtly. It relies solely on the acting skills of Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy. They display great chemistry together.

There’s this wonderful scene, in particular, early in the night. They’re in a listening booth in a record store. Jesse is staring admiringly at Céline, who is looking off into the distance. Nothing is being said – they’re just listening to a record. Céline turns to stare admiringly at Jesse, who then looks off into the distance, as if he hadn’t been staring at her. She turns her gaze away, and he returns to staring at her. This continues for a while, with each person staring at the other in turn, but never looking at each other. It’s obvious that they both know they’re being admired, and they’re both enjoying it, but they both feel it’s too early in their relationship to actually stare into each other’s eyes. The whole scene is told through facial expressions.

Before Sunrise is, indeed, a masterpiece.

Before Sunrise was followed, nine years later, by Before Sunset, and, nine years after that, by Before Midnight.

The only downside of Before Sunset is that it made me realize that one of my favorite films, Lost In Translation, isn’t as original as I’d once thought.

The Bandwagon Has Passed, So Here I Am

Last night, after Phillip and I got home from seeing The Accountant with Christina at The Sundance, I decided to watch the penultimate episode of Season One of Game of Thrones before going to bed.

That next-to-last episode was so good, so full of shocks and surprises, that I went ahead and watched the season finale as well.

I have now seen Season One of Game of Thrones. I enjoyed it so much that I decided to put a library hold on Season Two. I was number 33 in line. I was willing to wait for the next season. (After all, it wasn’t like it was back when the show was more popular, and the hold list was close to 200.)

I checked on my holds this morning. Season Two of Game of Thrones was “In Transit”. It seems that the interest in the show, or at least the older episodes, has relaxed a bit.

The Accountant was a terrific movie, by the way. I thought it was original, well made, and not predictable.

Movie, A TV Show, And A New Book

Yesterday, Phillip and I boarded a 49 bus, rode to the U District, and met up with Christina and Michael. Then the four of us walked to The Sundance and watched Dr. Strange in 3D.

It was a fun movie. I enjoyed it a lot, even though I knew nothing about the comic book character. It was well worth seeing it in 3D.

After the movie, Michael had to leave us, so Christina and Phillip and I had dinner at CaliBurger. We discussed politics, mostly. Then Phillip and I rode a 49 back to Capitol Hill.

Before Phillip and I left the apartment yesterday, I received a text message that The Atlantis Plague was available for pickup at the Amazon Locker. For once, the delivery vortex – which usually gets my packages to me sooner than promised – was not in my favor, and I got my book exactly when promised. We picked it up on our way home.

I had had a head start on reading The Atlantis Plague, having read the preview at the end of The Atlantis Gene. Still, I’m making good headway on it, and I’m enjoying it so far.

Meanwhile, I’m four episodes into Game of Thrones, and I’m thinking it’s living up to all the hype. There are a lot of interesting characters, and a lot of strong women, in the story, but I’m favoring Daenerys Targaryen because she is one character truly fighting – and winning – on her own.

 

Disc Of Lies

Lately, DVDs have been arriving in our mailbox from Netflix that neither Phillip nor I can remember putting on our queue. Apparently, we saw a preview, thought the movie looked interesting, put it on our queue, and then, over time, forgot about it. Then a mystery disc arrives in the mail. It’s kind of fun, actually.

This was the case with The Signal, which we watched last night. The disc sleeve said it was from 2014, and this was the synopsis:

During their drive across the country, college pals Nick and Jonah — accompanied by Nick’s girlfriend — run into major trouble in the Nevada desert. Duped into a setup by an evil-minded hacker, the trio soon become the demented techie’s prisoners.

That didn’t seem familiar to either of us. We agreed that it sounded bad. But we do enjoy the occasional bad movie, so we put it into our DVD player.

The Signal starts off as a road-trip movie. Jonah and Nick are taking Haley to a new college. Nick has some degenerative disease that requires him to use crutches for mobility. He’s afraid that as the disease worsens, and he ends up in a wheelchair, Haley will lose interest in him while she’s away at college, and break up with him. Haley see this as Nick’s cowardly way of breaking up with her. Poor Jonah is stuck in the middle of this fight between his two best friends.

Before the road trip began, Jonah and Nick were at MIT, and some hacker broke into their personal server and destroyed all of their files. Since then, they’ve been receiving taunting emails. Now, on the road with Haley, they’ve found the hacker’s IP address. They’ve traced the location of that IP address, and learn that the hacker is not too far out of their way to Haley’s college. Haley agrees to the detour.

Meanwhile, it seems that the hacker has found them. They receive a photo of their car, taken from a traffic camera.

None of this was familiar to either Phillip or me. We began making guesses as to what kind of movie we were in for – suspense, mystery, horror, or torture-porn.

The trio arrive at the hacker’s location in the pitch-black night. It’s a seemingly abandoned shack in the middle of the nowhere. Nick and Jonah lock Haley in the car while they go in to investigate. Jonah brings his camera with him.

At this point, the movie turns into a Blair Witch Project clone. A shaky, handheld movie camera shows us poorly lit scenes of a creepy old shack. Someone has been living there, but it looks like they moved out long ago. In the basement, Nick and Jonah find something out of place with the rest of the shack.

They hear Haley screaming outside. Nick and Jonah rush outside and find that all of the car’s doors are open. Haley is gone.

At this point, the movie turns into something very different and unexpected. I won’t tell you what it turns into. I won’t tell you the rest of the plot. I will tell you that the rest of the movie is not at all what the DVD sleeve told us.

I like to think that the synopsis on the DVD sleeve was a deliberate lie to avoid spoiling the plot twists.

The Signal is a terrific movie. I loved it. It was well made and well acted. Its many mysteries and twists kept me guessing all along. It’s a movie that, I’m sure, could stand up to repeat viewing. I learned, afterwards, from IMDb, that there were two “clues” hidden in plain sight within what appeared, on first viewing, to be superfluous scenes. I’m sure there are more.

I’ve often wished that I could have watched Psycho without knowing anything about the movie beforehand – to fully experience the shock of that mid-story genre change. I feel like I’ve now experienced that with The Signal.

Free Preview

I got out of bed this morning, feeling exhausted. My legs ached. It was because we went to a movie last night.

Phillip had a couple of free passes to a preview showing of Nerve. I still have bad feelings about the rotten treatment we received at the last free preview – when Phillip nearly lost his seat because he went to the concession stand. That was at Pacific Place, however, and this time it was the Regal 13.

I agreed to go.

The showing was on Thursday, which, coincidentally, was the day my card wallet was due to arrive in the Amazon locker. We’d have to make a detour on the way home, or I’d pick it up the following day.

Tuesday night, Phillip, for some reason, thought to re-check the passes. The showing was on Wednesday (last night), not Thursday. Yesterday afternoon, I received an email from Amazon. My card wallet had arrived in the locker, a day early. We’d have to make a detour on the way home, or I’d pick it up the following day.

I went to the theater right after work. (Phillip, meanwhile, had driven to work, saw the 47 coming up Summit as he was driving home, parked the car, and made it to the bus stop in time to catch the 47 to Downtown.) I walked up 4th Avenue, cut through the pedestrian tunnel under Rainier Tower, through One and Two Union Square, and found Phillip in line. He was the first person in line.

We had our usual two hour wait. I forgot to bring a book. I played with my phone. We chatted with our neighbors in line. Phillip and I played Words With Friends together on our phones.

The line behind us was surprisingly short, compared to other free previews we’d been to.

We were treated well at Regal 13. They let everyone keep their electronic devices during the movie, but phones and such had to be turned completely off when the show started. They warned us that if they see a glowing light during the show, that person would be escorted out. (That seems fair to me.) And we were allowed to leave our seats.

If I had written a review of Nerve last night, it would have been a negative review. It’s not a great movie. But, the next day, thinking back on it, the movie’s growing on me. I still think it’s not a great movie, but it wasn’t terrible. It was entertaining and thrilling.

Nerve is the story of a high school girl who gets involved in a secret social media game. People sign up to be either a Player or a Watcher. If you sign up to be a Player, the site accesses all of your online activity, and gives you dares based on things you’ve posted. The dares can be embarrassing (kiss a stranger for five seconds) or dangerous (hang from a construction crane). If a Player accepts, films, and completes the dare, they receive money and status based on the difficulty, and on how many Watchers are following them online. Of course, the game is even more sinister than it first appears. (Maybe I shouldn’t have bought a smart phone.)

It’s an intriguing concept. I just wish the movie was better made. The characters and the acting were both rather dull.

After the movie, we walked over to Westlake and caught a Link train to Capitol Hill. We stopped into Phoenix Comics, where Phillip had a comic book on hold. Then we stopped into Broadway Market, where Phillip got to see how an Amazon locker works.

I now have a new card wallet.

After all that walking, and all that standing, I am worn out.

Phillip Drove Me Into The 21st Century

I finally did it, and I’m still in shock.

I have entered the 21st century, and it’s Phillip’s fault.

I bought a smart phone today.

It’s been so hot in our apartment this past week that we both looked forward to spending some time this weekend in an air-conditioned movie theater. Phillip checked the showtimes at The Crest and found a movie neither one of us had heard of but looked interesting: April and the Extraordinary World.

Today turned out to be a cool, rainy day, but we decided to go see a movie anyway.

April and the Extraordinary World is delightful. We both agreed that it’s going to be a movie we will own in our collection. It’s an animated movie from France. (I learned later that it’s based on a graphic novel.) We saw it dubbed into English. The animation style is original. The story is surprising, and often full of laugh-out-loud details. It’s a fascinating and original twist on steampunk themes. Instead of a Victorian age in which steam power has greatly advanced, it’s the 1930s to 1940s and the world is still relying on steam power because scientific advancement has ceased.

Anyway, I drove us to The Crest, and Phillip drove us home – but not directly.

As Phillip drove us away from The Crest, he asked me if I wanted to stop into the nearest Cricket store. I told him I was still sort of thinking about a smart phone, but I preferred to do it online. Phillip asked me why I don’t want to get it in the store.  I replied that I wanted to take the time to compare features without sales pressure. (The truth was, I was simply afraid of the unknown.)

Phillip drove us down 145th, turned right onto 15th, and into the Cricket store parking lot. You can look at the phones, he said, see which one feels right, and then buy it online.

When we walked out, I had a new smart phone and a Cricket account. Phillip actually seemed surprised. (I was under no pressure, but the fact that I had 5 days left on my Tracfone had something to do with my decision.)

I bought a mid-priced LG phone that’s so new the carrying cases for it hadn’t arrived yet. (The store will call me when they arrive.) This thing’s the size of a laptop. I’m going to have to wear a jacket, just to be able to carry it around – until the case arrives.

Phillip told me that when we got home, I’d have to finish the story I was working on for tomorrow’s Writers’ Group before I’d be allowed to play with my new phone. Before we got home, however, we stopped into the Target at Northgate and then the Fred Meyer in Ballard. The soft drink Phillip bought at The Crest wouldn’t fit in the car’s cup holder, so I had to hold it, so I couldn’t play with my new phone while we drove around, either.

We got home, finally. I finished my story. Then I played with my new phone.

I have a smart phone. Yikes.