Sunday, August 18, 2013

The Way, Way Back

Has anyone heard about this movie?

I hadn't, until a few days ago.

My good friend and former roommate, Blake, texted me to let me know a group of our friends were going to see it.

I had no idea what it was, who was in it, or what it was about, so naturally I looked up the trailer.

I was instantly interested.

I decided to put off some other tentative plans so that I could go see the movie.

I'm glad I did!

This is absolutely my favorite movie of the summer, and might end up being my favorite movie of the year!

I'm hearing good things about Mud, which I still need to see, but The Way, Way Back will be hard to beat.

I'm not really sure how to classify my favorite type of movie, but this is definitely in the same category.
This difficult-to-define category includes films such as 500 Days of Summer, Midnight in Paris, Dan in Real Life, Whip-It, 50/50, Juno, and The Perks of Being a Wallflower.

Basically I love thoughtful, qwirky, character driven dramedies (drama + comedy), like those typically released by Fox Searchlight (which includes The Way, Way Back, by the way).

The Way, Way back, hits each of these elements perfectly, It was so incredibly funny, but also so tender and thoughful. The cast and characters were perfect! Not everyone is likeable, but they all did excellent jobs.

Can I just say, Sam Rockwell is INCREDIBLE! He is quickly rising to the top of my list of favorite actors.  This is the guy who played Wild Bill in The Green Mile, Guy Fleegman in Galaxy Quest, Justin Hammer in Iron Man 2, and my personal favorite, Sam Bell in Moon.
I'm convinced that this guy can do just about anything.

I'm committing right now to see more of his movies.

The Way, Way Back was made for only $4.6 million. It is an excellent example of the type of quality film that can be made for a relatively low budget.

I am so glad that there are still companies like Fox Searchlight financing and distributing films like this!

In my opinion, this company is the only shining light in the movie industry right now. I am getting so tired of the mega budget special effect spectacles that all the big companies are making right now.

After a while, it all begins to look and sound like Transformers.

If you look at the list of Fox Searchlight's movies, you see a very impressive history. Many of my all-time favorite movies are on that list.  Almost all of the best movies from the last few years are on that list.  In my opinion, movies by Fox Searchlight are some of the only movies worth seeing anymore.  I can't praise them enough.

I don't want to say too much about the film, because I don't want to risk detracting from the experience if you choose to see it. I will say though that the relationship between Owen (Sam Rockwell), and Duncan (Liam James), is one of the most tender on-screen relationships that I can remember. I love their interactions and dialog. Almost immediately we become deeply endeared to both of them. If you want to see what quality character development looks like, definitely go see The Way, Way back.

I'm giving The Way, Way Back a solid 5 out of 5 stars. I will definitely be pre-ordering this one, and probably seeing it multiple times in theaters.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

A Hitchcock Review: Stage Fright

I recently revisited one of my favorite Alfred Hitchcock movies, Stage Fright.

Stage Fright was made in 1950, and stars Jane Wyman (former wife of Ronald Reagan), Marlene Dietrich, Michael Wilding, Richard Todd, and Alastair Sim.

Stage Fright is also one of only a few Hitchcock films that features Alfred Hitchcock's daughter, Patricia Hitchcock, in a supporting role. I like her performances quite a lot, and wish she had done more acting. She is always very fun and charming.  In Stage Fright she plays Chubby Bannister. How's that for a name!

The cast of Stage Fright is probably its greatest strength. Everyone really shines.
I'm not much of a Marlene Dietrich fan, but even she is good in this.
Jane Wyman is absolutely delightful and classy in this film! After watching it, I kind of have a crush on her. She is really excellent, and quite pretty. I especially like her in the garden party scenes. She has a pretty amazing smile.

My absolute favorite character though, is Commodore Gill, played by Alastair Sim. He is so funny! He has some of the best lines, and totally steals the show! It is worth watching just for him.

As I said, Stage Fright is one of my favorite Hitchcock films. It is a really great example of the classic Hitchcock style.
If you pay attention to such things, it has some very impressive camera work, neat set trickery, and impressive lighting effects. The final scenes of the film really stand out and are incredibly suspenseful.

In addition to all of its great qualities, Stage Fright has one characteristic that really sets it apart from the rest of Hitchcock's films. It contains one of only two mistakes he ever admitted to making.
I'm not going to tell you what the mistake is. Actually I'm going to give you a challenge. If you haven't already seen Stage Fright, watch it, and see if you can pick out what the mistake is. After you have seen it, do an internet search to find out what the mistake was, and see what you think.

I actually really like the so-called "mistake". I think it creates a neat viewing experience. I do see Hitch's reasoning though. The funny thing is that modern directors make this same "mistake" all the time, but nobody seems to notice or complain. Hitchcock was definitely a perfectionist. I wish more directors were like him.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

100 Miles!

I completed the Bike MS Century Ride!

It was so much fun! I would definitely do it again.

I was actually surprised by how easy it was. There really weren't any major hills, and I felt really well prepared for it.

I got through the whole thing without any aches or pains. I was tired of course, and it was difficult to keep up my pace towards the end once my energy was waning, but I was very happy with my performance.

Here are my recorded stats:
Ride Time: 5 hours 46 minutes
Trip Distance: 100.16 miles
Average Speed: 17.36 mph
Max Speed: 39.36 mph
Average Cadence: 95 rpm
Max recorded temperature: 114.9 deg F!

Here are some photos!

I was worried that I would be late in the morning because on my way there, I got stuck behind a house!

Here I am waiting to start. There were a lot of people there! I think about 2700 people participated.

They had to send us out in waves starting at about 7:30. I'm not sure exactly what time I started, but I know when I finished. I think with the aid station stops, I did it in a little under 7 hours. Not sure though.

I took a bunch of selfies at the aid stations, but they pretty much just show me in various stages of sweatiness.  You guys probably don't want to see here are some action shots from the photographers they had out on the course.

They gave us pretty nice medals!

I think if I were to do it again, I would do two things differently. First, I would bring along a camera other than my phone. One I could grab and operate while I was riding. We saw some beautiful scenery along the way, and I would have liked to have captured more of it. Second, I would spend less time at the aid stations. I was sort of riding with a group the whole time, and I was trying to stay with them.  Also, I wasn't sure how difficult it would be, so I admit that I took it kind of easy. I would really like to keep the total event time, including stops, down under six and a half hours.

All in all it was a great experience!