Oct 3, 2010

What a "free preview" weekend meant to me

I enjoy the weekends where DirecTV flips the switch and lets us watch movie channels for free for a few days.  It usually reminds me just why I don't bother with movie channels in the first place.  Besides, I can always hit the vending machine for a flick or rent one from PPV or off the Wii.

This weekend, I decided to watch a couple movies - you know, since they were free and all.  The problem with free weekends?  The movies generally stink.  You would think the movie channel folks would put out their very best stuff since they are trying to entice folks to pay the subscription fee.  Usually, they run their own shows (not movies, just dumb self-produced programs and series) or they run movies no one ever watches, free or not.

Surprisingly, there was a noce selection of flicks to choose from: The Shawshank Redemption, The  Princess and the Frog, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, Hancock, several others I cannot recall right now.

I opted for a few: Mermaid, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, Rookie of the Year (though there were several baseball-related movies at various times!), and Close Encounters of the Third Kind.

Mermaid (2007) (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0995747/) follows a young girl who saves a guy from drowning and she believes she can make wishes come true.  It's in Russian with subtitles (yes, I am *that* kind of movie watcher), and is really quite a beautiful story.  The girl disappears from her mother's life, basically, but the mother never seems to wonder where she went or even miss the girl.  Alisa (the girl) is on the verge of coming-of-age, but is not quite sure how to get there.  She experiences love, materialism, parties, reality and fantasy.  Without spoiling the ending, I will say it certainly was not expected (or at least, the *exact* ending wasn't for me!).  It's a very good movie.  Watch for a couple of nude scenes, though (also not necessarily expected). 

Rookie of the Year (1993) (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0107985/) is an "oldie but goodie" in my book.  It follows the story of a boy who hurts his arm in such a way that he can pitch like no one has ever seen.  He becomes the star (closer) pitching rookie for the Cubs.  Like an story about a 12-year old boy, there are family matters to deal with, fallen heroes that don't turn out as we had them in our minds, first loves, and fighting with best friends.  It's pure fantasy and absolute fun!  Sure, I cold have popped in the DVD, but why bother when it was free and I didnt have to get off the couch?

Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs (2009) (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0844471/) is an animated film based on the book of the same name.  Hapless inventor creates a machine that turns water into food.  It's got some very funny moments and is a cute family movie.  There are the issues of overeating, father-son relationships, and love.  Like Wall-E, this movie beats us over the head with issues of overeating when given the chance (that is, we will eat ourselves silly if the food is plenty).  Though, to be fair, that mainly applies to two characters: the mayor and one of the children.  Still, it was obvious there was a message in the humor.  (I don't want a message, I want a fun movie I can escape from all the messages I get bombarded with all day. Thanks.).

Now, don't let my dislike of "message movies" make you think this movie was not worth watching - it is worth seeing if you haven't yet!  A lot of fun and several great lines.  My favorite being: "Come on, Steve! There is Diem to Carpe!"  Great stuff!

Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977) (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0075860/) follows several people (two, mainly) as they are overcome with an obsession for a mountain they have never seen and for a particular sequence of music notes the have never heard.  Of course, it ends up being a government cover-up.  I actually saw this movie in the theaters when it first came out.  1977 was the year for sci-fi (you may recall a little movie called "Star Wars" was released that same year).  Close Encounters is full of 70's cheesiness, yet somehow remains a good movie.  I'm sure that would be Mr. Spielberg's doing.  Until this weekend, I never paid attention enough to make the connection, but at one point in the movie, the spaceship is playing music and as Richard Dreyfuss is on screen, the ship is playing the "Duh-Dun" music from Jaws.  Funny stuff!  Certainly worth taking a walk down memory lane (just ignore all the government cover-up messages).  If you've never seen it (or are too young to have even heard of it), check it out as an alternative view of sci-fi films of the era.

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