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Movies, Kong, Squid & Whale

Two days in a row, friends and fans!

Because I’m a WGA (Writers Guild of America) member, now is the time of the year I get to see free movies. The studios (in league with the theater owners) provide this service in the hopes that the different motion picture union members will nominate and vote for their films for the various awards that come out early next year (including the Academy Awards). I just flash my WGA card and my guest and I are allowed entry at any theater for any film even remotely in the running for an award. Because of all of the awards, this is also the time of year that most of the studios release (in Los Angeles, at least) most of what they consider their most important films.

That’s great because 1) I think movie ticket prices are outrageous; 2) I don’t really like to go to the movies (very few good ones, idiots in the audience talk, my anger and impatience with those idiots always holds the potential for violence, cell phones go off, the screens are a lot smaller now, etc.); and 3) my poor culturally-deprived wife (who loves going to the movies) finally gets me out of the house and finds out about what the rest of the world is talking about around their water coolers at work.

I used to LOVE going to the movies but that whole experience has really changed. I think a lot of the movie theater audiences think they’re still in their living room, watching TV. Or, they think that just because they bought a ticket they can behave in any manner they damn well please once they’re inside the theater. Another WGA bonus: If I’m willing to drive to the studios I can watch the films in a screening room. Great sound, great picture, the comfiest of seats — and no one talks!

So, I’ve been seeing a bunch of movies lately — unusual for me. I’ll use this blog to try to steer you to some good ones over the next month.

Last night I went to the midnight debut (all of my friends know that I’m a major King Kong nut; see my essay on Kong in the new paperback collection Kong Unbound) of Peter Jackson’s King Kong. It had some good stuff in it; I liked those nasty Spider Pit critters. It was fun, too, seeing my friends (and fellow Kong nuts) Bob and Cathy Burns in cameos.

The night before we saw The Squid and the Whale. This film is terrific: great original script, incredible performances (what a cast!). It’s a black, black comedy if you possess the same dark sense of humor that I have. Jeff Daniels is one of the most underrated actors in the biz — he has an unbelievably extraordinary range. He can hold his own in comedy with Jim Carrey (Dumb and Dumber), play a great goofy loser husband in Terms of Endearment and then turn around to deliver this dry, pinched, biting, pitch perfect Squid and the Whale performance. Wow!

Capote will probably be the next film I see. Phillip Seymour Hoffman is one of my very favorite actors. I invariably love his film role choices; they’re always off center and unpredictable.

Mural watch: I’m attempting to finish the first three of my San Diego murals today.

Hey — I gotta run (literally — three miles of hills every other day). See you in the blogosphere!


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