Archive for December, 2010


True Grit / Yogi Bear 3D / Chronicles of Narnia 3D / The Fighter / Little Fockers / How Do You Know

True Grit / Yogi Bear 3D / Chronicles of Narnia 3D  / The Fighter / Little Fockers / How Do You Know.

Wednesday December 22nd, 2010, Atlanta, GA

True Grit (2010) starring Jeff Bridges, Hailee Steinfeld, Matt Damon, Barry Pepper and Josh Brolin. It’s about a tough U.S. Marshal helps a stubborn young woman track down her father’s murderer. This is a remake of the True Grit (1969) original that starred John Wayne. This was a very good movie through and through. The acting, costumes, sets, makeup, everything seemed authentic and real. Jeff Bridges and Matt Damon were great in their roles, but the stand out character was Hailee Steinfeld who played the young Mattie Ross who hires the U.S. Marshal played by Jeff Bridges. Her performance was Oscar worthy. This version of the film is told through the eyes of the young girl instead of the U.S. Marshal that John Wayne played in the original True Grit. Check this film out, its worth it and a treat.

The next film I saw was Yogi Bear (2010) starring the voice talents of Dan Aykroyd and Justin Timberlake. A documentary filmmaker travels to Jellystone Park to shoot a project and soon crosses paths with Yogi Bear, his sidekick Boo-Boo, and Ranger Smith. This was a film that I thought that my girlfriend Jane’s daughter (Little C) might want to see. So in a way I was screening this film for her. I did want to see it too cause it was in 3D and I liked Yogi Bear when I was a kid. I liked this movie. It’s a good family film with heart. I was very impressed with the Yogi’s voice played by Dan Aykroyd, it was spot on. Even Justin Timberlake as Boo-Boo was entertaining.

Next on my movie marathon schedule was The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader 3D (2010) starring Georgie Henley, Skandar Keynes and Ben Barnes. Lucy and Edmund Pevensie return to Narnia with their cousin Eustace where they meet up with Prince Caspian for a trip across the sea aboard the royal ship The Dawn Treader. Along the way they encounter dragons, dwarves, merfolk, and a band of lost warriors before reaching the edge of the world. These Narnia movies have been fun to see and done very well and this third installment is no exception. Visually this movie is awesome. That cast, costumes and acting was good too. This movie was worth the 3D screening. I’ve never read the Narnia books and I know I’m missing out on a lot of things left our in the movies, but the movies are very enjoyable in every aspect if you ask me.

The next film I saw today was The Fighter (2010) starring Mark Wahlberg, Christian Bale and Amy Adams. A look at the early years of boxer “Irish” Micky Ward and his brother who helped train him before going pro in the mid 1980s. Mark Wahlberg is getting a lot of attention for this lead role cause this movie has been a pet project of his for a long time. Mark Wahlberg is good in his role. But this film belongs to Christian Bale is you ask me. Christian Bale plays Mark Wahlberg’s brother who is addicted to drugs. Christian Bale lost a lot of weight for this role, but not as much as he did for The Machinist 2004. He also did the great Boston suburb accent to a tee. Amy Adams was great in her role too. It was nice to see her act in a grittier foul-mouthed role than I’m used to seeing her in the nicey nicey roles. I found out she has been tapped to play Janis Joplin in the upcoming film Janis Joplin: Get It While You Can (2012) At the end of the movie as the credits start to role you get to see a quick interview with the real life brothers that Mark Wahlberg and Christian Bale portrayed.

The last film of my movie marathon today was Little Fockers (2010) starring Robert De Niro, Ben Stiller, Owen Wilson, Dustin Hoffman, Barbra Streisand, Blythe Danner, Teri Polo and Jessica Alba. Family-patriarch Jack Byrnes wants to appoint a successor. Does his son-in-law, the “male nurse”, Greg Focker have what it takes? I don’t know what it is exactly about the on-screen duo of Robert De Niro and Ben Stiller, but it seems to work. The supporting cast is a plus too. It was nice to see the return of Owen Wilson’s character from the first film. This movie was funny, but it wasn’t as good as the last two. I still recommend it though.

Saturday December 25, 2010

This Christmas has been a very special one. This month of December had been a tough one since the death of my mother. But I have had great support from my family, friends and co-workers. But the best support had come from my wonderful girlfriend Jane. She was instrumental in getting us to Santa Barbara to take care of my dad and the aftermath of my mom’s death. It was during this time Jane proved she would be there for me no matter what. She’s a keeper. On Christmas Eve I had dinner with her and her parents and daughter. Prior to meeting up with her and her family I bought a ring at a jewelry store she had her eye on a couple of week’s prior. However I wasn’t sure if the ring would be there, but it was and I made plans to pop the question sometime tonight. Originally I thought I might propose during the family dinner, but I thought a more intimate setting would be better. I figure I would ask for her parent’s permission to marry her afterwards. Jane and I decided to do our gift exchange after her daughter and parents went to bed. I took advantage of this situation and proposed marriage to Jane with the ring after we opened up the gifts we had wrapped for each other. You should have seen Jane’s face; she was floored and totally surprised. She was so excited she woke her parents up and called a few relatives. I asked her parents for permission and they both gave my their blessing. We waited till Christmas morning to tell her daughter Little C who was excited about the news. The icing on the cake came when snow started to fall on Christmas day. It was my first White Christmas and the first one in the Atlanta area in 100 years.

Just like Thanksgiving its tradition for me to see a movie on Christmas day. And Jane was up for joining me for one on this Christmas. It would be the first movie we would see together as an engaged couple

The movie we agreed to see was How Do You Know (2010) starring Reese Witherspoon, Paul Rudd, Owen Wilson and Jack Nicholson. After being cut from the USA softball team and feeling a bit past her prime, Lisa (Reese Witherspoon) finds herself evaluating her life and in the middle of a love triangle, as a corporate guy in crisis competes with her current, baseball-playing beau. This movie had a good cast and a cool story. Reese Witherspoon and Paul Rudd were very entertaining in the respective roles. But the movie moved along a little too slow for my taste. I also found the ending unsatisfying. Jane felt the same way I did too. I don’t recommend this movie for a theater visit, maybe a video release though.

Well as you can see my December has been an eventful and memorable one. This month is winding down but I still have a few to see before this month ends.

Stay tuned! – Spartan Phoenix

Total movies seen in the theater to date since February 1st 2010:  174

  • February           2010: Movies Seen: 12
  • March              2010: Movies Seen: 14
  • April                 2010: Movies Seen: 16
  • May                  2010: Movies Seen: 18
  • June                 2010: Movies Seen: 19
  • July                  2010: Movies Seen: 14
  • August             2010: Movies Seen: 21
  • September       2010: Movies Seen: 17
  • October           2010: Movies Seen: 14
  • November       2010: Movies Seen: 13
  • December       2010: Movies Seen: 16

Movie Marathon almost Foiled / The Black Swan / Tron: Legacy / The Tourist / Scrooged / For Colored Girls / The Nutcracker 3D

Movie Marathon almost Foiled / The Black Swan / Tron: Legacy / The Tourist  / Scrooged / For Colored Girls / The Nutcracker 3D

So I’m a little behind on my Spartan Phoenix Movie Marathon Man Blog. December 2010 has been a little bittersweet, so I’ve been very preoccupied. It started with the death of my mother. My girlfriend Jane and I made an unscheduled visit to my hometown of Santa Barbara for this. And on Christmas Eve I proposed marriage to Jane. She said yes and made me a very lucky man. More on these life changing events later. I have still found time to see movies during these events of course, well because that’s what I do. I’m gonna split these blog events into a couple of posts. So now lets get caught up.

Wednesday December 8th, 2010

Today I talked to my girlfriend Jane about watching a holiday movie with me. Every Christmas I get into the holiday mood by watching a few of my favorite Christmas movies. Some of the movies on this rotation are A Christmas Story (1983) about Ralphie’s quest to get his Red Rider BB gun, the original Miracle on 34th Street (1947) and It’s a Wonderful Life (1946) which I try to watch first or right after Thanksgiving. I recently added Elf (2003) to my Christmas rotation. But my favorite Christmas movie of all time is Scrooged (1988) starring Bill Murray, Karen Allen, John Forsythe and Alfre Woodard. Bill Murray plays a cynically selfish TV executive gets haunted by three spirits bearing lessons on Christmas Eve. This is my favorite version of the Charles Dickens classic. This movie holds a special place in my heart because I saw this movie originally in the theater with my mother back in 1988. We went to our favorite theater in Santa Barbara California called The Arlington Theater. My mom took me to many movies when I was a kid and this movie stands out as one of my favorite movie experiences with my mom. In the last couple of days my moms deteriorating health caught up with her and she was taken to the hospital. Since I couldn’t be with her at this time I wanted to watch this movie in her honor. Jane and her father agreed to watch the movie with me and give prayers to her health. Later I called my mom and spoke to her while she was in her hospital bed. Although she wasn’t 100 percent coherent she could understand me. I told her I loved her and that I watched the movie Scrooged with Jane and what this movie meant a lot to me because of the memories I had with her watching it for the first time. At this time my father and I were told that although my mother was in serious condition there was a strong chance she would pull out of this. It turns out that this would not be the case and that phone call would be the last time I would talk to my mother.  She passed away almost a week later. Scrooged is one of those movies that still gets me to tear up at the end. Next Christmas season I will watch this movie in honor of my mother and this movie will always be dear to my hear, just as she was.

Thursday December 9th, 2010

Today I planned a four-movie marathon that would end with a midnight premiere. Because I had a free Regal movie pass from last week when my girlfriend Jane and her daughter Little C and I left the movie Tangled early I decided to do this movie marathon at the biggest Regal multiplex. The one thing that Regal does have over AMC is the large size popcorn. You get more cause its served in the tub instead of the bag that AMC does.

The first movie I saw today was Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 (2010). This was the second time I have seen this movie. I really liked this movie adaptation better than most of the Harry Potter movies. The one scene I really wish the movie had was the Dudley scene. I liked the part in the book when Harry’s cousin Dudley shows concern for Harry’s safety and well being for the first time. It’s a touching scene in the book and shows a turning point in Dudley’s character. I thought they could have added a quick 5 to 10 seconds of the movie showing Dudley looking back over his shoulder giving a nod to Harry. Maybe this will be a deleted scene.

The second movie I saw was Red (2010) I really enjoyed this movie the first time I saw it. It was very funny as well as action packed with a great cast. I think I might be getting this movie on blu-ray when it hits the shelf.

Ok, here is where things almost got sticky and I almost had my movie marathon foiled by a theater staff personnel. The next movie I planned to see was The Nutcracker in 3D (2010) (aka: The Curse of the Rat King). Since I had my own 3D glasses I headed into the theater to take my seat. However I noticed that I was the only person in the theater. About 10 minutes after the scheduled start time I was still the only person in the theater. Shortly afterwards a guy dressed in a theater manager black suit asked me for my ticket stub. I had a ticket stub, but it said Harry Potter on it. But I did have a full bag of popcorn and a large drink in my hand. So I told him I must have left my ticket at the concession stand. He said this showing had been cancelled as well as the later afternoon showings cause the screen had a tear in it. He then got on the radio and asked another manager if any tickets had been sold for tonight’s cancelled show this evening. The voice on the radio said no. In my quick thinking I realized something. All of the staff currently working now in the evening was not on the morning shift when I started my movie marathon. So I told the guy I had bought my ticket for The Nutcracker in 3D this morning about 11am cause I thought the show might sell out tonight. He bought my story cause apparently he knew the ticket taker didn’t know this show was cancelled and there were other 3D shows playing and 3D glassed were being giving out by this ticket taker. He offered to let me go see another movie in the theater free of charge. I said sure! As we walked out of the theater he headed left towards the main lobby I turned right towards other theaters. I wanted to get away from this guy and didn’t want him to see which theater I went into to in case my story didn’t pan out. It was around 10pm at this time and I didn’t have a lot of choices so I went to see a movie I normally wouldn’t see.

So the next film I saw was For Colored Girls (2010) starring Janet Jackson, Loretta Devine, Thandie Newton, Phylicia Rashad and Whoopi Goldberg. Each of the women portray one of the characters represented in the collection of twenty poems, revealing different issues that impact women in general and women of color in particular. OK, too be honest, this isn’t my type of movie to voluntarily see, but I have to admit it was a good cast of great actresses. The acting was very good. However this movie was very, very depressing. Its not a pick me upper. However this movie ended by midnight, which gave me the time I needed to pad to see the midnights premiere of the next film.

So the next movie I saw was the midnight premiere of The Tourist (2010) starring Johnny Depp, Angelina Jolie, Paul Bettany and Timothy Dalton. This story revolves around Frank, an American tourist visiting Italy to mend a broken heart. Elise is an extraordinary and mysterious woman who deliberately crosses his path. The movie previews of this film want to make you believe that it is some kind of international spy thriller. This movie is anything but. This movie is a boring suck ass waste of time. Although the film was shot on location in Italy, which was the only redeeming quality of this movie, it seemed like half the film was about watching Angelina Jolie’s character who was always well dressed in the latest fashion stroll the Italian streets wile looking good. Boring.  This movie is a waste of time; don’t let it waste your time.

Tuesday December 14th, 2010.

While I was at work I got a call from my dad that my mom had taken a turn for the worst. I called Jane and she agreed to meet me at my place after work. She asked about booking plane tickets for the both of us to Santa Barbara California right away. I said yes and she got on it right away. Her father donated his Delta frequent flyer mileage to reduce the cost of the ticket, which was expensive. We decided to catch an early morning flight about 8am, which will get us into California early due to the time change. Jane agreed to pick my up on the way to the airport.  It was a nice surprise when her mother, father and daughter all showed up to pick me up. Our flight was somewhat uneventful, but our problems started after we landed.

Wednesday December 15th, 2010.

After we landed in Los Angeles we found out that our baggage was not on our flight. But might be on the next flight in an hour. We agreed to wait. I called the hospital and was told that my mom was stable and we should have time to still drive up and see her. Jane’s luggage arrived on the next plane but mine didn’t. So I had to fill out a Delta missing luggage form and arranged to have it delivered to my dad’s house in Santa Barbara. This delayed us another 2 hours. After we got our rental car we headed to Santa Barbara. I called my dad and told him what time we would pick him up. However when Jane and I pulled up in my parent’s driveway I found my dad waiting for us, crying. My dad had just received a call from the hospital saying my mom had just passed away. We missed her by 20 minutes. Damn you Delta. We then went to the hospital to see my mom. It was an emotional visit to say the least. Jane was great to both my dad and me. My dad and her hit it off. During my weeklong visit I helped my dad getting my mom’s ashes together and setting him up with a lawyer to assist with the financial duties. Because the weather was bad all week long in Santa Barbara my dad and I decided to split up my moms ashes as I would take my half back with me to Atlanta. While I was in Santa Barbara I still had time to introduce Jane to my friends and family. I of course also had time to see movies.

Thursday December 16th, 2010, Santa Barbara, California

Before things took a turn for the worst with my mom I had pre-purchased tickets and made plans to see the new Tron movie in Atlanta with my friend David in IMAX 3D. However since I was in Santa Barbara it turned out that there was a midnight 3D showing of TRON: Legacy (2010) at my favorite theater called The Arlington.

Tron stars Garrett Hedlund, Olivia Wilde, Bruce Boxleitner and Jeff Bridges. The best thing about seeing this midnight showing was going with my old friend Cat whom I’ve know for a very long time. He is one of my long time and original movie buddies. He used to work here at the famous Arlington Theater and arranged to let me get a hold of one of the original marquee letters for the first letter in my fist name. I still have it in my possession. Cat brought along his roommate to the show too. I enjoyed this long awaited sequel. I liked the special effects and enjoyed the direction the story went. It was nice to see the return of original Tron actors Bruce Boxleitner and Jeff Bridges. My only issue with the film was that parts of the film were not shot in 3D. So I don’t think the extra charge of the ticket for 3D isn’t worth it. Seeing it in 2D is just fine.

Saturday December 18th, 2010, Santa Barbara, California

One of the movies that is getting a lot of buzz this Holiday season is Black Swan (2010) starring Natalie Portman, Mila Kunis, Vincent Cassel, Barbara Hershey and Winona Ryder. This movie is a thriller that zeros in on the relationship between a veteran ballet dancer and a rival. This movie buzz is getting help due to the Golden Globe awards it has received. This movie was playing at an old Santa Barbara venue called The Riviera Theater. It’s a one-screen theater hidden in the hills of Santa Barbara. Its one of those theaters that mostly plays artsy fartsy films. We had just been down south to visit my brother and arrived an hour early to the first showing today. We were the first ones in the empty theater. However when the movie started it was 95 % full. The buzz on this movie in Santa Barbara was larger than I expected. As for the movie itself, it was a two-hour mind fuck that was very depressing. I’m baffled why all of the critics think this suckfest of a movie is so good. I think there is something called critic peer pressure. I think if one well-known critic likes a movie other critics ride the coat tails to get their articles and blogs read and posted. The only convincing thing this movie showed was how well Natalie Portman trained to be a ballerina. She was very convincing. Otherwise the movie was very disappointing and confusing. I think my girlfriend Jane said it best as were leaving the theater “What the hell did we just see?”

On my next post, more movies and an engagement! – Spartan Phoenix

Total movies seen in the theater to date since February 1st 2010:  168

  • February           2010: Movies Seen: 12
  • March              2010: Movies Seen: 14
  • April                 2010: Movies Seen: 16
  • May                  2010: Movies Seen: 18
  • June                 2010: Movies Seen: 19
  • July                  2010: Movies Seen: 14
  • August             2010: Movies Seen: 21
  • September       2010: Movies Seen: 17
  • October           2010: Movies Seen: 14
  • November       2010: Movies Seen: 13
  • December       2010: Movies Seen: 10

Tangled Cut Short / The Warrior’s way / Fair Game / 127 Hours

 Tangled Cut Short / The Warrior’s way / Fair Game / 127 Hours

Wednesday December 1st, 2010

As my Spartan Phoenix Movie Marathon Man year long blog experiment continues I love it when it involves the people closest to me like my girlfriend Jane and her daughter. Today my girlfriend Jane and I planned to pick up her daughter “Little C” from kindergarten and take her to see Tangled (2010). I had prescreened this movie and thought it was tame enough for Jane’s five year old. This would be her daughters 2nd movie to see in the theater. The first movie we took her to see was Océans (2009).  This movie outing went pretty well. You can see that blog report here:

This movie outing didn’t go as smoothly but not for the reason I thought. Little C is sensitive to loud noises and some scary images. The movie Tangled is about Rapunzel who is kidnapped as a baby by and evil woman by the name of Mother Gothel who uses Rapunzel’s magical hair to stay young. Mother Gothel masquerades as Rapunzel’s mother and convinces Rapunzel to stay in her tower to shelter from the dangers of the outside world. There were a few questionable scenes in the movie that I thought Little C might be wary of. Some of the henchmen and Mother Gothel scenes may be a bit scary but this wasn’t the reason Little C got scared and why we left the movie before Rapunzel left the tower. As our hero Flynn Ryder makes a deal with the beautiful Rapunzel to leave her tower for the first time, Little C got scared and put up a little fuss and asked her mommy to leave the theater, which we did. I was a little flabbergasted cause she didn’t leave during a scary scene at all. Afterwards we found out that Little C didn’t like the idea of Rapunzel disobeying her mother and leaving the tower. How cute is that? Little C thought Mother Gothel was Rapunzel’s real mother and didn’t like the idea of Rapunzel of defying her mother. Jane didn’t want to explain that Mother Gothel wasn’t Rapunzel’s mother and the concept of kidnapping to her daughter just yet and I can’t blame her. Maybe we will stick to nature flicks for now until Little C gets a little older. There is still plenty of time for her to become a movie nerd like me.

Saturday December 4th, 2010

Tonight my girlfriend Jane and I had plans for a Christmas party. During the day I planned a 3-movie marathon. Jane asked what movies I planned to see and when I told her she expressed interest in one of them. So we made plans to meet up at the theater at the last movie.

The first movie I saw today was The Warrior’s Way 2010 starring Dong-gun Jang, Kate Bosworth and Geoffrey Rush. It’s about a warrior-assassin that is forced to hide in a small town in the American Badlands after refusing a mission. This movie looked great in the trailers. It looked like there would be some cool kung-fu sword fighting action with cool characters. This was not the case. This movie sucked ass. The story sucked. The characters and acting sucked the sets looked like they were all filmed on blue/green screen with unbelievable computer generated backdrops. The only thing that I found somewhat interesting was the costumes. The costume designer is the only thing that deserves props in this film; otherwise this movie was nothing but a giant suck fest.

The second film I saw today was Fair Game (2010) starring Naomi Watts and Sean Penn. Its based on a true story when a female CIA agent (a good looking one at that) was revealed by White House officials allegedly out to discredit her husband after he wrote a 2003 New York Times op-ed piece saying that the Bush administration had manipulated intelligence about weapons of mass destruction to justify the invasion of Iraq. I was hoping for a better film after the suck fest that I just sat through with The Warrior’s Way. But this wasn’t the case. This film wasn’t much better as a matter of fact it may have been worse. This move was soooooo boooring. Naomi Watts was good in the movie but she couldn’t save it especially with Sean Penn who played her husband. I got the feeling that Sean Penn only took this role cause it was anti government. I felt he phoned in this role. At the end of the movie right before the credits they played real testimony hearing video of the Valerie Plame the character that Naomi Watts played in the film. I’m sorry this happed to her in real life but I’m also sorry the movie about her experience also sucked.

The last film I saw was 127 Hours (2010) starring James Franco, Kate Mara and Amber Tamblyn. A true story about a mountain climber becomes trapped under a boulder while canyoneering alone near Moab, Utah and resorts to desperate measures in order to survive. Sometimes when I’m in a huge multiplex theater I cant find the next movie I’m trying to sneak into. I had trouble finding theater this movie was playing in when I did my first arrival walk through after I bought my popcorn and soda to see where all of the scheduled movies I plan to see during my marathon. I still didn’t find it when I had to rush to my first movie so I wouldn’t miss the movie trailers. Knowing I was going to meet my girlfriend at this movie I had to make sure I found thus theater. Well I did eventually find it, the movie was playing at one of the small theaters near the front entrance and I walked right by it, a couple of times. I got there before Jane did, but I didn’t have to wait long as she arrived right before the trailers started. This movie is based on the true story of Aron Ralston who had to cut off his own arm when it was pinned in a rock that got dislodged while he was hiking and mountain climbing. I was fascinated by this story when it happened back in 2002 or 2003.  Here is a couple of pictures of the real Aron Ralston after his ordeal.

James Franco did a great job playing the part of Aron Ralston. Here is a picture of the two of them together at a premiere event of the movie.

Aron Ralston & James Franco

The movie answered some of the questions I had on what he did to survive. What I didn’t know was that he had to break his arm in order to cut it off. I thought he had to cut through the bone too, but instead he cut the skin around the broken bones to detach the two parts of his arm. Here is a real picture of Aron Ralston when his arm was stuck before he amputated it.

And here is a diagram of how he amputated his arm.

Here is a video interview of him describing his ordeal on location where it actually happened:

This movie is truly inspiring and I highly recommend it. It was very refreshing to see a good movie after sitting through two stinkers. It was nice to share it with Jane too. The best part of the movie was the end right before the credits. They showed a picture of Aron Ralston and his wife and infant child. His child was born this past January 2010. They gave an onscreen update of what he’s up too. I couldn’t help but get a little misty eyed during this time. Check out this movie, it’s a good one.

Well it’s hard to believe that I have two months left on my Spartan Phoenix Movie Marathon Man yearlong experiment. The upcoming holiday movie releases are already getting me excited. Especially with the release of TRON: Legacy (2010) next week. I’ve got my midnight 3D IMAX ticket already, do you have yours? Probably not, but I see more movies than you. Heh, heh.

Stay tuned… – Spartan Phoenix

Total movies seen in the theater to date since February 1st 2010:  162

  • February                2010: Movies Seen: 12
  • March                    2010: Movies Seen: 14
  • April                         2010: Movies Seen: 16
  • May                        2010: Movies Seen: 18
  • June                       2010: Movies Seen: 19
  • July                         2010: Movies Seen: 14
  • August                    2010: Movies Seen: 21
  • September            2010: Movies Seen: 17
  • October                 2010: Movies Seen: 14
  • November             2010: Movies Seen: 13
  • December             2010: Movies Seen: 4 

Follow Spartan Phoenix Movie Marathon Man Blog now on Twitter!

Hello my fellow movie nerds! You can now follow me and my Spartan Phoenix Movie Marathon Man Blog now on Twitter!

I need some friends and followers on Twitter, so come check it out!

– Spartan Phoenix