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All of a sudden it’s nearing the end of December and thoughts of New Year’s resolutions dance in our heads. Before we enter 2014, however, let’s reflect on what the past year has given us on local stages.
If you need a break from your Oscar checklist, or simply prefer to watch some of the early contenders from the comfort of your couch, here are the latest releases on DVD (and most popular downloads). It’s a good week for action fans. For your convenience, I’ve divided them into two categories: Worth a Watch and Must Miss.
It seems Oscar is taking a nap this week, so it might be a good time to hit the couch with a good download. Here are the new releases and top rentals:
Story: Ben enters a farm house that appears to be abandoned. Inside, though, he finds a barefoot young woman named Barbra who seems to be in shock. Eventually, Ben learns that Barbra and her brother Johnny had been attacked by “the living dead,” and that Johnny is dead. Barbra ran to the house before slipping into shock. Ben abandoned his truck, which needs fuel, and is seeking shelter in the same house.
Story: It’s springtime, and S Mart employee Ash has the perfect place selected for some off-campus hijinks. It’s a desolate cabin in the woods, hard to access and far removed from any bothersome neighbors. So, what could go wrong, right? He rounds up his girlfriend and S Mart colleague Linda, lovelorn sister Cheryl, wise-cracking best friend Scott and Scott’s new-found, trampy squeeze Shelly for a raucous romp in the hinterlands.
For kids, the evening of dress up, candy, and ghosts and goblins is a major cause for excitement. We asked the fourth-graders in Gregg Thompson’s class at Glenridge Elementary School in Clayton about their plans:
Way back in the days when I was a lad, Labor Day marked the beginning of the school year. Now, of course, school districts and universities get their fall semesters underway a couple of weeks earlier.
Film critics are calling this the 'Summer of the Bomb.' I’m not sure studios have ever had so many box office flops in one season. Audiences are telling Hollywood in no uncertain terms that it’s going to take more than an A-list star and a hundred-million-dollar budget to sell tickets. So, if Channing Tatum in a wife-beater or Johnny Depp in war paint doesn't get you excited, I’m sorry to say I have good news and bad news on the home front. Here are some interesting rentals and some I wouldn't watch if I were tied to the chair.
There is no denying it: Brad Pitt is a beautiful, beautiful man. Keep Affleck, Clooney, Crowe, Damon—and I’m going alphabetically—Brad Pitt eclipses them all. Honestly, I would pay the price of admission to watch him watch paint dry. I used to do it for free...stupid restraining orders…but I digress. In any event, I think we all can agree that Brad is one of a handful of name-above-the title Hollywood A-listers who can man a blockbuster movie. Now, if someone could just find him a worthwhile movie to man...
Many recall the childhood verse, I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream! Originating from a 1920s song of the same title recorded by a band called Waring’s Pennsylvanians, it certainly has inspired children and adults alike to indulge in the cool, delicious treat.
February is finally here, which means Oscar season is finally here. Nevertheless, the hangover of the January curse still lingers. So I have compiled a list of dos and don’ts, if you are so inclined to head to the theater in the next couple of weeks. These are the dos.
Let me just start by saying that I had seen the trailer for this film multiple times and greeted it each time with an eye-rolling sneer. Then, I started to notice that there were some pretty respectable names attached. So, in spite of the fact that the premise seemed patently absurd, I started to foster hope—maybe this was going to be some sort of a weird Twilight-meets-The Conspirator breath of fresh air. And I have to say, for a number of reasons, I was pleasantly surprised.
The first domino fell last week: Punch collapsed into the backseat after school, pale as a ghost and had a cough that would have put Camille to shame. So I picked up some chicken noodle soup from Ladue Market and raced home. I don’t mind a sick child. They’re docile and usually too tired to argue. It’s also probably the only time after the age of 10 that they will let you cuddle them. So I honestly don’t mind a sick child—repeat child—singular.
Story: A quintet of people known as the Quimbies congregates in an amorphous area while Dr. G exists in a catatonic state on the perimeter. Who exactly are the Quimbies? Are they figments of Dr. G’s fertile imagination? Do they embody his thoughts and dreams? Do they have any purpose or raison d’etre? What do the series of illustrations in the background represent? And why does Dr. G look so thoroughly depressed and despondent? What are the reasons for his malaise, and is there any hope to alleviate his spirits?
Well, it happened. Whiny and Punch had been bickering incessantly over some idiotic video game that will only serve them in life if they decide to climb a clock tower, and I hit my limit. I flipped the switch, shutting off the game. My timing apparently could not have been worse: Punch was on the verge of killing a record number of zombies (or vampires) when I pulled the plug. This initiated a tantrum, the likes of which I had never seen. And that’s when it happened—mid-conniption—he said it, I hate you!
Play: “Black Pearl Sings!”
A couple of weeks ago, I wrote a column on things our kids will probably never see in their lifetime, stuff like rotary phones or a walkman. Well, last week the kids had a snow day, and as I stared at Cranky, Whiny and Punch—all ensconced in various forms of technology—something else occurred to me: In addition to objects, there are actions these kids will never know.
Some of us are walking zombies, if the latest sleep statistics are to be believed: More than 20 percent of Americans are sleep deprived, and 1,500 road fatalities a year are attributed to falling asleep at the wheel. We’d feel and function a whole lot better if we could just get more Zzzz’s.
I’m not sure when it started, but there is suddenly this technique in suspense thrillers and horror films that is getting old fast. The special effects guys denote any demon, zombie, ghoul or any garden variety evil creature with some extreme body contortion. Remember Linda Blair’s spinning head in The Exorcist? That’s child’s play now. Now entire limbs are bending in reverse, spines are rotating, heads are doing The Exorcist spin with a full twist in the pike position (higher degree of difficulty). Anyway, barring a bend or crack I am not imagining, the shock value has worn off, so somebody is going to have to reach into their bag of tricks and come up with something new.
Well, it’s a new year: 2010, a year filled with endless possibilities. A year filled with resolutions and projects and goals. And apparently it will also be a year filled with werewolves. Last year was widely regarded in the media as the year of the—can you guess?—vampire. With the Twilight craze and HBO’s smash series True Blood, there was a vampire in every multiplex and on every television in America. Now there is confident speculation that 2010 will be the year of the werewolf.
How many existentialists does it take to screw in a light bulb? Two, one to screw in the bulb and one to observe how the light bulb itself symbolizes a single incandescent beacon of subjective reality in a netherworld of endless absurdity.
The air is crisp, the kids are in school and the films (not movies, films) are vying for Oscar consideration. October is looking promising. Here’s what’s in store.
Play: Neighborhood 3: Requisition of Doom
Joan Krueger remembers the stress she experienced more than 15 years ago when the company she worked for was sold and moved its offices to another city. “The job was extremely stressful to begin with, and when the company moved, I decided not to move with it, so then I was unemployed and even more stressed out,” she says.