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    Fascinating Movies

    Since my early teens going to the movies has been a frequent activity — a weekend ritual to escape into a fictional world far from the rigors of everyday life, and to just have fun. My love of movies was partially responsible for my career choice when I headed off to college, and it’s been a part of my life since.

    In fact, if memory serves, my first movie experience was in Smith Center, Kansas, a summer movie outing to see The Music Man sometime during my early grade-school years (the movie was released in 1962). While I definitely cannot name all the movies I’ve seen since, I did start writing down titles on my calendar a few years back; I started to also include the movies I rent or watch through my Netflix subscription.

    Which brings me to a current dilemma. How do I transition from cable/satellite watching to streaming services? The entertainment industry (TV, movies, music) has propelled me — protesting the entire way, I might add — from one platform to another: from records to eight track tapes to cassettes to CDs; from live television to VCR recordings to DVRs; from over-the-air broadcast stations to cable to satellite; from drive-ins to cineplexes to DVDs to streaming. Whew! How do we navigate the ever-changing landscape that is the modern American’s entertainment choices?

    I have one suggestion. How about we do it together?

    With this column, we’ll take a stroll along the cyber pathways that crisscross our hectic lives, and we’ll explore all the possibilities available via whatever means, methods, or platform. We’ll share titles, reviews, websites, and more as we move through the murky waters of entertainment, making this entertainment central — especially when it comes to movies.

    This being the fall of 2018, let’s take a look at a few movies from this year and a few for the rest of the year, and perhaps take a quick peek at what the new year has to offer.

    With ticket prices the way they are, online ticket purchases and seating assignments, and service charges for those online buys, I’m not going to the theater as much as I once did. So far this year, I’ve seen 12 films (OK, I did see Black Panther twice) in the theater. I’d have to say that Black Panther was excellent (both times); I thoroughly enjoyed The Post (former newspaper person that I am) and Shape of Water (my Oscar viewing); Annihilation was trippy and great to see four women scientists as the lead characters; Wrinkle in Time was fun, entertaining, and thought provoking; Ready Player One was also fun, and it really brought home the current state of movie special effects (mind blowing); Tully had more depth than I thought it would, and it was also heart wrenching; Avengers: Infinity War continued the Marvel Universe’s hold on the box office but it also left me feeling unsettled and not very satisfied; Deadpool 2 was as irreverent and violent as the first, with some tears mixed in with the numbness (violence overload); Ocean’s 8 was just plain fun; and Mission Impossible: Fallout was again over the top action, but the stunts are so great, it’s difficult to not want to see it on the big screen.

    A couple of favorite websites help me travel in time: Internet Movie Database (IMDb.com) is my place for seeing what’s currently in the theaters, as well as what’s coming up. The site uses Metascore, from Metacritic.com, to rate movies with critic reviews on a 100-point scale. I also visit Rotten Tomatoes fairly frequently (RottenTomatoes.com). I like their rating icons, on a percentage scale: A fresh tomato for good ratings from critics, a full box of popcorn to indicate the average moviegoer’s approval, the funny green splat of a squashed tomato to indicate a critical disaster, and a spilled green box of popcorn to show an audience’s disapproval. The splat just makes me smile. Another site worth noting is BoxOfficeMojo.com, which contains box office numbers and a whole lot more.

    For instance, IMDb gives Black Panther an 88 Metascore, while Rotten Tomatoes shows it at 97% on the Tomatometer with a 79% audience score, and Box Office Mojo lists it as the top moneymaker for the year with just ove $700 million domestic total ($700,006,415 as of this writing) with an opening weekend take of more than $200 million. You won’t believe the worldwide number: $1,346,739,107; isn’t that more than $1 billion with a B?

    Going into the future, there are more films I’d like to see than I thought there would be. If you haven’t noticed, I’m not much of a comedy fan, but Melissa McCarthy does have a couple of new movies coming out in the last half of the year: Can You Ever Forgive Me? and The Happytime Murders.

    I enjoy action, drama, and superheroes, not necessarily in that order. So I’m looking forward to Ant-Man and the Wasp, Venom, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, and Aquaman. A few of the other films on my radar are, Crazy Rich Asians, The House With a Clock in Its Walls, A Star is Born, First Man, The Girl in the Spider’s Web, Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald, and Mary Poppins Returns. A few possibilities (though I’ll probably rent these) are Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, Equalizer 2, Christopher Robin, Mortal Engines, and The Old Man & the Gun. A few fun titles to watch for: Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again, Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween, and Holmes and Watson (with Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly).

    On my to-rent list: 12 Strong, Winchester (horror isn’t really my thing, but it’s Helen Mirren!), Game Night,The Leisure Seeker, Tomb Raider, Beirut, Won’t You Be My Neighbor?, Incredibles 2, Solo: A Star Wars Story, and Book Club.

    What will 2019 bring?

    The studios have not released all the information for next year’s films, so any list will be incomplete, and subject to change. I do tend to be a bit capricious when it comes to going to the movies; the pile of to-be-read books sometimes yells louder than do the movies. That said, here are a few of the films I’m looking forward to in the new year.

    A new Hellboy will be released in January. I’m a fan of Ron Perlman’s version of the character so I’m not sure I’ll go to see a remake, though it’s always a possibility, particularly since David Harbour (Stranger Things) is set to take on the title role.

    Glass, from M. Night Shyamalan, is one I’ll try to see in the theater. It’s a sequel to BOTH Unbreakable and Split, which as a concept is exciting in and of itself. I’ll need to rewatch Unbreakable (I recently rented Split), so I’ll be ready for this one! Just saw the trailer for it; it is definitely on my see-in-the-theater list.

    Three animated classics receive the live-action treatment beginning in March when Dumbo hits the silver screen starring Colin Farrell, Danny DeVito and Michael Keaton. (The other two are Lion King and Aladdin, directed by Guy Ritchie and starring Will Smith as the Genie.)

    Plenty more where those came from, folks. Next time around, we’ll talk Oscars.

    If you have a question or comment on the movies or media platforms, drop me a line. You can reach me at jteller@ogdenpubs.com or at 645 New Hampshire, Lawrence, KS 66044.

    Published on Sep 11, 2018


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