Just forget the words and sing along

Thursday, January 31, 2019

Fishing in the Discount Bin - The Princess Bride

And we're off again on Fishing in the Discount Bin.  I watch a movie and blog about it.  You know the drill.  This time out, I'm watching The Princess BrideThis is in my notes at December 2, 2018.

Sunday, January 27, 2019

Scarecrow's Oscar Picks - 2019 Edition

Well, gang, it's time to continue on a tradition that I've been doing ever since I developed an online presence 20+ years ago to promote my college radio show.  It's time to blog my Oscar picks!

The logo I made for this in Photoshop way back in 1997.  It says "Scarecrow's Oscar Picks"

Now, I've always done my Oscar picks a little differently.  I only do the two categories that I have a good track record in picking:  best visual effects and best original song.  Best visual effects because, well, I gravitate towards those movies.  And best original song because, well, back when I started doing this in the 1990s, it was the height of the Disney Renaissance, and for a good stretch in the 90s, the Oscar in this category would always go to the love ballad from the Disney animated film.  When they started with best animated film, I started doing that one, because I love my cartoons.  And I do best picture, because that's the big one.

Got all that?  Cool.

Best Visual Effects

My Thoughts:  I liked Solo, but let's be honest, when it comes to visual effects it really offered up nothing new.  Ready Player One is a visual treat, as about 80% of that film is performance capture was we explore our virtual world, but still, nothing really new.  I really regret not catching First Man in the theatre, as I heard a lot of good things.  A biography of astronaut Neil Armstrong, it was heralded as being one of the most accurate depictions of spaceflight since Apollo 13Christopher Robin, Disney's live-action  Winnie the Pooh, was cute, but we've seen talking stuffed animals before.  Really, though, Avengers: Infinity War wound up being such a pop culture juggernaut this year that it deserves to walk away with something, and this one makes the most sense.

My Pick:  Avengers: Infinity War

Best Original Song

My Thoughts: Personally, I think this on is going to come down to Mary Poppins and A Star is Born.  I mean, people have been raving about A Star is Born since it came out back in the fall, so no doubt it'll be picking up a few trophies.  But, Mary Poppins has been winning over the critics, so no doubt that'll sway some Academy voters.  But A Star is Born has been the favourite for too long.

My Pick:  Shallow

Best Animated Film
My Thoughts:  Wow!  First year in a long time I've seen more than 50% of the nominated films.  Saw Incredibles 2, loved it.  Saw Ralph Breaks the Internet, loved it.  Saw Spider-Man, loved it.  I skipped Isle of Dogs.  I saw the trailers and thought, "Wow, Wes Anderson has finally gotten too quirky for me," and gave it a pass.  But still, the Academy does love Anderson.  And Mirai, our token foreign film.  The first anime in this category that's not from Studio Ghibli.  With a lot of good films on this list, I think Spider-Man surprised a lot of people, and since it came out in December, it's still the freshest in a lot of minds

My Pick:  Spider-Man:  Into the Spider-Verse

Best Picture

My Thoughts:  Firstly, yay!  Black Panther is the first superhero film to get nominated for Best Picture.  And the whole point to expanding the nominations to more than five years would be so more mainstream films like this would get nominated.  That being said, let's be honest.  As great as Black Panther is, I don't really think it's Best Picture worthy.  Green Book was an early favourite, but being an early favourite means it's already getting early backlash.  The film -- about an African American pianist in the 1960s on tour in the south and his white driver/bodyguard -- was lauded when it first came out, but has already started getting flak fore being a sanitized look at race relations.  A Star is Born was another early favourite, but over on social media, the one I see people constantly raving about right now is Roma.  It hit Netflix in December, so lots of folks are raving about it right now. 

My Pick:  Let's go with Roma

The big show's on February 24. 

Thursday, January 24, 2019

Fishing in the Discount Bin - The Pixar Short Films Collection Volume 3

Here we go again on Fishing in the Discount Bin.  You know the drill by now.  I watch a movie, and blog about it.  It's just that easy.  Today, I continue my love of Pixar with The Pixar Short Films Collection Vol. 3.  This is originally in my notes at December 1, 2018.

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Fishing in the Discount Bin - Incredibles 2

Here we go again on Fishing in the Discount Bin.  I watch a movie, I blog about it.  Why?  Because I launched a blog 20 years ago, and I haven't moved on with my life!  Anyway, this time out, I'm watching Incredibles 2.  This is originally in my notes at December 1, 2018.

Monday, January 14, 2019

It's About Time

While I had a lot of fun heading into the city last week to see Bumblebee, it wasn't quite what I wanted to do.  I still wanted to make the trek all the way into West Edmonton Mall and spend some gift cards.  I also had a very specific goal in mind as to what to spend those gift cards on:  calendars. 

Man, calendars seem to be one of those things that are dying out now that everyone has one in their pockets at all times thanks to smartphones.  But at work, I still like to have one on the walls of my office.  It helps keep me organized to lift my head up from my computer and see all the looming deadlines.  Last year, I even got one of those laminated ones that you can write stuff on using whiteboard markers.  I swear, it's how I've stayed organized ever since college.  But that's just in my main office.  I do so much work at work that I'm constantly flitting about from room to room, and I need new calendars in offices numbers two and three.  And it's just that time of year when the calendar pop-up stores are starting to clear out their inventory, and everything's half-off.  So I snatched up Castles of Germany for my main office, Star Wars for office #2, and a second, writable calendar for office #3. 

Then it was time to spend some gift cards.  I went on over to the Scotiabank Theatre to see Aquaman

Man o man, as I was riding the escalator up the theatre, I had a frightening thought.  The Scotiabank Theatre in West Edmonton Mall is going to be celebrating its 20th anniversary this year.  It opened with much hype in the summer of 1999, replacing Famous Players' old West Mall 5 theatre.  It was the ultimate movie theatre in Edmonton, with its fire-breathing dragon, stadium seating, and curved screens.  And THX!  To date, the only times I've ever seen that famous THX trailer on the big screen was in those early days at the Scotiabank Theatre. 

Of course, being the summer of 1999, the first film showed at that theatre was The Phantom Menace.  I remember seeing the line for tickets on the news.  The line wound down the staircase and around the indoor lake.  The first movie I saw in the Scotiabank Theatre, though, wasn't The Phantom Menace...it was Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me.  Although, you may remember, it had a fantastic Episode I-spoofing trailer

But, the old Scotiabank Theatre was showing it's age.  As I settled into my chair, it sure felt kind of small when compared to the gigantic, super-comfy recliner that I enjoyed at the Landmark Theatre for Bumblebee.  It's still a very good theatre, though. 

Anyway, how was Aquaman

Aquaman is bug-nuts, bonkers insane, man.  They lean heavily into the fantasy elements of Aquaman, creating a very lush looking film.  We are treated to some spectacular computer generated underwater empires as we see Atlantis and all the kingdoms under the sea.  And the final battle...as mush as I tire of the massive CGI armies fighting each other, this one has armoured sea life.  Sharks vs giant seahorses.  And the kraken shows up.  It's beautiful.

It's a pretty standard Aquaman plot.  Aquaman's half-brother Orm, the ruler of Atlantis, is seeking to unite the seven kindgoms under the sea and raise an army to go to war with the surface world.  So, to stop the war, Aquaman has to challenge Orm for the throne.  Which sends him on a quest for a magic trident with Orm's forces hot on his tail.

And one thing I keep forgetting to mention is they film actually has a really meaty subplot delving into the origins of Aquaman villain Black Manta.  It almost feels like an entire second movie, and I found the whole thing quite compelling.

But yeah, I really enjoyed Aquaman.  Between this and Wonder Woman, it looks like the DC Cinematic Universe is starting to find its footing.  I give it 3.5 Nibs out of 4.  Full review on the website.  

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Fishing in the Discount Bin - Stan Lee's Mutants, Monsters, and Marvels

Moving along on Fishing in the Discount Bin, where I watch a movie and blog about it.  I tend to work a few weeks ahead with this.  I watched this particular film near the end of November, and originally wrote this on December 1, 2018, when the death of Stan Lee was still recent.  So that's why I watched Stan Lee's Mutants, Monsters, and Marvels.

Monday, January 07, 2019

Braving Winter Roads

Well, the Christmas holiday season is practically over, but there was still one thing I wanted to do that I hadn't had a chance to yet.  I wanted to go see a movie.  I wanted to go see Bumblebee.  I had set aside this weekend to do it!  I was ready to go!

But then it snowed all day Friday. 

Dang it.  Do I brave the snow-covered streets to venture into the city to catch a movie, or do I wait another weekend?  I feared to wait another weekend, because Bumblebee isn't doing so hot at the box office.  What if it's out of theatres by next weekend?  What is this poor old Transformers fan to do? 

I woke up on Saturday morning and checked the road reports.  The highway was currently listed in "fair" condition.  OK, that's pretty much typical winter driving conditions.  That's drivable.  But the last thing I wanted to do was navigate city streets in this weather.  So it seemed like it was finally time to check out the new Landmark Cinema in St. Albert. 

Landmark Cinemas is currently the second-largest movie theatre chain in Canada.  They're working hard to narrow the gap between themselves and the largest chain, Cineplex.  Their St. Albert theatre is coming up on its first anniversary, and when it opened up last spring, it was with much fanfare.  While Landmark already has a few theatres in Edmonton, they were all acquisitions.  But their St. Albert theatre is the first one in the greater Edmonton region that they built from the ground up...all according to their standards.  And it's ridiculously easy to get to, on the very northern edge of St. Albert.  When I drive south on Highway 2 to hit the city for the day, it is literally the first building I see when I hit St. Albert city limits.  I wouldn't have to navigate any city streets at all, just kiss the edge of town. 

Plus, I won some free Landmark movie passes at the office Christmas party.  I could see it for free! 

This plan was falling into place.  I can do this.  I have the touch.  I have the power. 

I set out late on Saturday morning.  I figured I'd give the snowplows more time to work their magic.  As expected, it was typical winter driving conditions.  There was enough road salt out there that it made the roads pretty wet.  Good thing I filled my tank with washer fluid before hitting the road.  And sure enough, I hit the first set of lights as soon as I hit St. Albert, and I was there.  I might finally start going to this theatre a whole lot more because of how ridiculously easy it is to get to.

I went into the lobby, and I was taken with how large and spacious it is.  Tables with USB charging ports, so you can check your phone while you wait.  The first strike against it, though.  The box office was closed, so they were making you buy your movie tickets at the concession.  Man, I hate this modern trend of reducing the number of cashiers.  Even worse when they start amalgamating positions.  Most grocery stores these days are doing away with their express lanes and making you go to the customer service desk instead.  Hell, the Giant Tiger here in Westlock only opens up a cashier when the line at the customer service desk is ten people deep.  You're not even replacing cashiers with self-checkouts anymore!  You're just hiring less cashiers and making them do the work of three.  Hate it hate it hate it.

Luckily, the concession/box office line was moving pretty quickly, so I got my ticket and my free popcorn and drink.  The drinks were pretty cool.  They have these Coke Freestyle machines.  You put your cup in, and hit the buttons on the touch screen to decide what you want.  You can even add your favourite flavoured syrups, so I went with a good ol' cherry Coke. 

Went to my theatre and found my seat.  Oh my God.  The seats are massive.  They're at least twice the size of typical a movie theatre seat.  And they're recliners.  The seats are full leather powered recliners.  With cup-holders.  It's pretty much Cineplex's VIP theatre experience, only at regular prices.  Oh, and no folding tray tables to put your snacks on.  But still!  The most comfy movie theatre seats I've had in a long time. 

Second strike, though.  With this big, comfy chairs, there's no place for me to put my coat.  In the old days, I'd just put my coat on the chair next to me.  But with reserved seating becoming more and more the norm, I don't want to do that, for fear of stealing someone's seat.  So lately, I've been folding up my coat and placing it under my chair.  But with big comfy leather recliners, there's no room under your chair.  So I wound up balling up my coat and leaving it on my lap.  This is Alberta, dude, where everyone at the movies in winter is coming in with a parka.  One feature I'd love to see them bring back to movie theatres is good ol' fashioned coat check, so you can hang up your coat.  Or at the very least, lockers in the lobby, so you can stuff your coat inside. 

Anyways, once the previews were done, I figured it'd be safe to literally put my feet up and not block the aisle.  And then I enjoyed Bumblebee

I really like Bumblebee.  Dear God, the opening 10 minutes, where we watch the fall of Cybertron and the Autobots fleeing to the stars is probably the closest we're ever going to get a CGI movie version of the classic cartoon.  I was crying tears of joy.  And you can tell that the director of this one, Travis Knight, must have grown up with Transformers, because Transformers Easter eggs were flying fast and furious. 

But it was more than just gratuitous fan service.  It's taken this long, but they finally realized that one of the best ways to make a good Transformers movie is:

a)  Actually develop the Transformers into characters we love and care about
b)  Make the human characters not annoying

Our heroine is Charlie Watson, played by Haillee Steinfeld.  She's still mourning the loss of her father, and resents the rest of her family for moving on so quickly.  On her 18th birthday, she gets her first car, a yellow Volkswagon Beetle, who quickly reveals himself to be Bumblebee.  Bumblebee's war wounds have damaged his memory, and together, these two damaged souls may just be able to heal each other.

Bumblebee is a much-needed breath of fresh air for this franchise, as some long-missing heart and soul is finally returned to the proceedings.  About my only quibble is the plot is highly reminiscent of The Iron Giant and E.T. so you kinda knew what was coming.  But I loved it.  3.5 out of 4 nibs.  Full review on the website

And did I mention I also saw Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse?  I don't think I ever got around to blogging about it.  But yeah, I saw it three weeks ago, right before Christmas vacation kicked into the high gear.  I also really loved Spider-Man.  I mean, I love animated films.  I love superhero films.  I think superheros and animation are a genre and a medium made for each other, so of course I was going to be there for a Spider-Man animated film. 

Much has been made by now of Spider-Man's animation style, and it is truly amazing.  It really does look like a comic book brought to life.  And the blending of animation styles, too.  Spider-Ham looks and moves like he stepped out of an old Looney Tunes short.  Peni Parker, our anime Spider-Girl, looks and moves like she stepped out of an Astro Boy rerun.  And the climax...wow.  The animation for the big climax almost gets psychedelic.  It just looks great. 

But it's more than just amazing animation.  There's some great character work here, as Mile Morales comes to grips with his spider bite and taking on the mantle of Spider-Man.  Luckily, there's a half-a-dozen other Spiders from across the multiverse to mentor him.  While Spider-Ham gets all the laughs in the trailers, the scene-stealer is Spider-Man Noir, a grim and gritty Spider-Man from a world of pulp fiction heroes, hilariously voiced by Nicholas Cage. 

The focus, though, remains firmly on Miles Morales and his hero's journey, as he tries to connect to his father.  It is a great film, and a wonderful addition to the Spider-Man film canon.  3 out of 4 nibs, full review on the website

And that should pretty much bring you up to speed on my all latest trips to the city.  There's probably one more in the days ahead, though, as I got a Cineplex gift card for Christmas and still wanna see Aquaman.  Hopefully the roads will be better next weekend for a much more conventional trip to the city. 

Thursday, January 03, 2019

Fishing in the Discount Bin - Mickey's Christmas Carol

Welcome back to Fishing in the Discount Bin.  You know the routine by now.  I watch a movie and blog about it.  Simple as that.  Kinda missed last week because I was off on Christmas vacation, but I'm back now with a Christmas movie!  Here's my look at Mickey's Christmas Carol.  This is originally in my notes at November 4, 2018.