Doctor Sleep (2019)

I read both The Shining and Doctor Sleep a couple of years back. I’ve seen the movie version of The Shining few times, too. I went out Friday night, watched Last Christmas (didn’t much care for it) and Doctor Sleep.

Doctor Sleep shows Danny and his mother in Florida immediately after the events of The Shining. As Danny grows up, he is haunted by the ghosts from the Overlook Hotel, mentally boxing each of them. In the process, he becomes a drug user and alcoholic. In New England, he makes a new life for himself, joins AA & gets a job at a nursing home, where he uses his gift to help the older residents transition from this life to the next.

There’s also a young girl who makes contact with Danny, using her gift to write on a chalkboard in his one bedroom apartment.

Bringing the two together is the threat of a group of gypsies with abilities of their own who hunt those that “shine”, consuming them.

Yes, there are differences from the book, which was to be expected. But I still enjoyed the movie quite a bit. It was suitably disturbing, though not really scary.

El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie (2019)

I watched the complete Breaking Bad series via Netflix a few years back, so I figured I was good to go to watch the new movie starring Aaron Paul returning to play Jesse Pinkman.

Of course, Aaron Paul isn’t the only actor to reprise a role from the series, though a couple are just one scene cameos, but still good to watch. And it features Robert Forster’s final role.

Set immediately after the events of the series finale, with flashbacks to Jesse’s time as a prisoner of the drug Nazis during the final season, with a focus on Jesse’s attempts to get out of Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Biggest problem I had with the movie was how everyone has aged, especially Jesse Plemons. But that can’t be helped, considering the series ended six years ago.

The Lighthouse (2019)

I went out to AMC Tyler yesterday since it is the only local AMC showing The Lighthouse. I had planned to see it last week, when I was at the same theater to watch Terminator: Dark Fate IMAX and Motherless Brooklyn, but a flat tire on the way ruined those plans. Had I been able to see all three movies in a day, I would have had a Willam Dafoe double feature mostly by accident.

I went into The Lighthouse blind, meaning I had not seen a single trailer or promotion for it, aside from the movie posters.

I did not expect a square picture, or a completely black & white film. For awhile when it started, I was wondering if there would even be dialogue, since it takes quite a bit of time before anyone says anything, and the first line of the movie is Robert Pattinson saying, “Son of a …” after bumping his head.

Two men arrive on a north Atlantic island to tend a lighthouse for a month. Dafoe’s Wake is the boss who is possessive over the tower light, with Pattinson’s Winslow having to do all the other work on the small island.

And for two hours of film, you get to watch Winslow slowly lose his damn mind, with the help of isolation, alcohol, an aggressive one-eyed seagull, storms, and a mermaid.

Gonna have to file this one under, “The fuck did I just watch?”

Terminator: Dark Fate IMAX (2019)

I got out to AMC Tyler to see the new film of the Terminator franchise. And Dark Fate follows the same rule as some other recent sequels of ignoring some sequels while following others. In this case, Dark Fate is a direct sequel to The Terminator and T2: Judgment Day, ignoring Terminator: Rise of the Machines, Terminator Salvation, and Terminator Genisys. It also ignores the television series, The Sarah Connor Chronicles.

Starting in 1998, the film quickly skips ahead twenty-two years. A new Terminator and a protector have been sent back from the future. At the center of the action is Dani, a Mexican auto factory worker. Grace saves her, Rev 9 is chasing them.

Sarah Connor arrives to save Dani & Grace. It turns out that Sarah has been hunting different Terminators, taking them out as they arrive in the past from a future that would never happen since Judgment Day was stopped in T2.

I enjoyed the hell out of the movie even before Arnold Schwarzenegger shows up, and it gets better afterward.

Rev 9 follows the pattern of being advanced from the previously featured Terminators in that he can separate into two – the endoskeleton and a liquid metal cover. He can also shapeshift & change his appearance.

There’s a good explanation for Schwarzenegger’s model, too.

And Linda Hamilton’s Sarah being a bitter, angry ass kicker was great.

The IMAX format for the movie looked good, and I may be going back to see it in a regular theater format.

Dolemite is My Name (2019)

After getting back from Houston Sunday night, I went ahead and watched the new Eddie Murphy bio comedy Dolemite is My Name via Netflix. It is a Netflix original film that has Murphy as Rudy Ray Moore and focuses on the making of Dolemite in 1975. It was also the two hundredth new to me movie of the year.

Since I had just watched the film this one was mostly based on, I got quite a few of the jokes about the low production value and the slap dash way of making the movie. But it also included references to the sequel.

It is nice to see Eddie Murphy in an R-rated comedy again. And Wesley Snipes was pretty funny in it, too. Keegan-Michael Key, Craig Robinson, Mike Epps, and Da’Vine Joy Randolph do well in supporting roles. And Chris Rock has a good two scene cameo.

Not the best Eddie Murphy movie, but an improvement over some of his more recent family friendly films.

Alamo Drafthouse LaCenterra, Katy TX

The last time I went down to Houston for an event at the Alamo Drafthouse, it was for the two episode series premiere of Marvel’s Cloak and Dagger. They had signs in the lobby then that they were hiring for the soon to be open LaCenterra location. The theater I went to that day has since closed.

I went to LaCenterra’s Alamo Drafthouse, located in Katy, Texas, about twenty miles west of Houston, for the first time this past Sunday to watch a Spanish-language version of Dracula (1931) and the blaxploitation film Dolemite (1975). And, unless they have a major event I do not want to miss, it may be my last visit.

The theater wasn’t difficult to find, I drove right by it on the freeway & just had to double back a bit, so I had an idea of how to get to it.

Plenty of parking – the LaCenterra shopping center has several parking garages and surface parking. I found a spot right next to the theater without any trouble.

Walking in, there’s a patio for the bar patrons, closed off from the sidewalk so not just anybody can sit there. Booth seating in the lobby, self serve kiosks, and a ticket counter adjacent to the lobby bar itself. The girl at the counter was all smiles & very helpful, I was able to get all three of my tickets and the birthday vouchers from her at once.

The hallway from the lobby goes left to right, with a rear projection screen that, at the time I was there, had the hotel hallway from The Shining with Room 237’s door slightly ajar. Very cool selfie opportunity.

Wifi is available in the lobby & theaters.

I was in Theater 6 for both movies. Aside from the sign for the theater, there wasn’t any other indication of where I was going to be. Alamo Drafthouse theaters in Austin & Dallas both use digital screens to show movie posters & showtimes, and the Alamo Drafthouse in North Richland Hills used chalkboards when they first opened, but that didn’t last long. The boards were still there last time I visited for Spider-Man: Far From Home, but not being used anymore because ya just can’t erase ’em well enough to hide previous titles & showtimes. That was just a bad idea all around.

The hallway and lobby bar have old, floor to ceiling poster recreations of classic Westerns. And even though my dad loved to watch ’em, and I would sit to watch ’em with him, I did not recognize a single title on display, though there were some familiar actors listed on ’em.

Anyway, I got into the theater, and the seating seems to still be a work in progress. Each seat has its own table for dine in food service, and the armrests have cupholders. Certainly an improvement to the Cedars location in downtown Dallas, which had cup holders in the table, making it difficult to get in & out of the seat. The seats are leatherish, and recline back. I was able to raise my feet to a comfortable height, and there was still room for the server to get through.

For the first movie, I had two five dollar meal vouchers, and used one of my birthday coupons for a soft drink, in this case Cherry Coke since Dr Pepper wasn’t an option. Mr. Pibb can go to hell. When it came time to pay the check, I used the vouchers, cash & a couple of dimes. My server did not bring back the proper amount of change, but it worked out in my favor, so I won’t complain. Instead, I just left the excess as a tip at the end of the movie.

I took what was left of the Cherry Coke with me to the bar to watch the Astros vs Nationals World Series game between Dracula & Dolemite. Even though Cherry Coke is a menu option, it was not available at the bar to get a refill while I waited. I was offered “Coke and Promegranite”, which the bartender said was “basically the same thing” but I turned it down because that did not sound right to me at all.

I went back into Theater 6 for Dolemite, which was my free birthday movie ticket, and used the birthday coupon for my free popcorn. I also tried to get a refill on the Cherry Coke, and found out that I would have to pay for a new drink since they don’t offer refills across multiple movies. What the hell?!? I’ve gotten it before, though it may have helped that I had worked with & knew folks at other Alamo Drafthouse locations in Austin & Dallas. He tried offering me a free water, instead, but I told him I would go ahead & pay for another Cherry Coke.

I like that both movies had customized preshows, that doesn’t always happen with one time screenings. The program director was on point in both of his introductions. And there was good service in the theater. Comfortable seating, with improvements from other locations that have been opening the last few years.

After the second movie, I was able to watch the Houston Astros win, since the game was still on at the bar, before leaving the theater.

But I didn’t like that I couldn’t get a soft drink at the bar, or that it couldn’t be refilled at a second seating on the same day. The menu says its bottomless. I didn’t want to argue, but I was annoyed. The fried pickles were good, as was the fried egg BLT, but the popcorn wasn’t that great.

Aside from The Shining on the hallway screen, there wasn’t anything particularly special about this Alamo Drafthouse, a common disappointment in newer locations. South Lamar has a WWI era alien invasion. Slaughter has monster plants. Richardson has a giant robot hand!

So, yeah, just being at an Alamo Drafthouse is better than any other theater around, but I think I’ll stick with road trips to D/FW or Austin, unless there’s just something in Houston I can’t miss.

Dolemite (1975)

As a Victory member with the Alamo Drafthouse, I received birthday coupons that would have expired yesterday. I was able to use them last Sunday after I watched the 1931 Spanish-language version of Dracula to see the 1975 blaxploitation film Dolemite. Its quite a drive to Houston, I wasn’t going to just watch one movie.

Dolemite is the story of a pimp that goes to jail for possession of stolen goods & drugs, a frame up job by another pimp. Two years later, he’s released because a madam convinces the governor to get the warden to release Dolemite so he can go undercover to get the pimp that framed him with the help of some dirty cops. What the hell?!

Upon his release, he’s picked up by several call girls, strips down outside the prison with the guards & other inmates watching, and gets into the proper pimped out attire for the era.

There’s quite a bit of craziness going on in this movie. Dirty cops planting drugs, a crooked minister dealing in weapons, hookers who take kung fu classes to defend themselves but also attack on command from Dolemite or the madam Queen Bee. There’s nudity, bad acting, bad dialogue, odd pauses, skips, and weird camera angles.

Its about exactly what I expected to be watching, to be honest.

There was a Rudy Ray Moore – centric preshow, with trailers for a few of his other films, a clip from of his standup comedy, other blaxploitation movies. And the program director introduced this film, as well.

Dra’cula (1931)

I’ve been a member of the Alamo Drafthouse Victory program for a few years. I got an email about a free screening of a 1931 Spanish-language version of Dracula, and decided to reserve a couple of seats by buying the five dollar meal vouchers.

I drove down to Houston Sunday, and got out to Katy to the new Alamo Drafthouse. It had been a couple of years since I went to Houston for a screening, and they have since closed the one I went to back then. Ah, well…

I do like the new place, and will have a write up about it soon.

There was a Dracula specific preshow for the film, as well as an introduction from the program director.

Now, real quick – this version of Bram Stroker’s Dracula was filmed at the same time using the same sets as the Bela Lugosi classic, just with a Spanish cast, with actors from Mexico, Spain, and Cuba. And its about a half hour longer than the English language version. Its been quite awhile since I watch the English version, so I can’t say right off what the differences would be between the two of ’em.

Count Dracula has a lawyer handle an estate rental, and travels overseas to take over an estate next to an asylum. After witnessing Dracula feed on the ship’s crew, the lawyer, Renfield, goes insane & is housed in the asylum. The vampire targets the asylum’s doctor and his daughter even while Van Helsing discovers the count’s secret nature.

For such an older film, it was fairly well done. Yes, you can see the strings on the bat, on the spider. Yes, there is some overacting, especially from Eduardo Arozamena’s Van Helsing & his reaction shots. But Pablo Alvarez Rubio’s Renfield is a clear highlight of the movie.

I enjoyed the movie quite a bit, and I’m glad I went to see it.

Black and Blue (2019)

I went to see Black and Blue mostly because of the cast – Naomie Harris from 28 Days Later and the James Bond franchise, Frank Grillo from Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Captain America: Civil War & Avengers: Endgame, Mike Colter from Jessica Jones, Luke Cage & The Defenders, and Tyrese Gibson from the Fast & the Furious franchise. Those four were enough to make me interested in the movie.

Yes, there is a strong social message about the relationship between the police and the African American community. When Harris’s character tries to make small talk with a preteen boy, the parents swoop in as if she’s harassing the kid. A woman she knew growing up in New Orleans denies they were ever friends. And a store owner is handcuffed & held at gunpoint until the police check his history on their squad car computer, and release him when he’s cleared, no warrants.

Biggest issue I had was the body cam being turned on & off. Is that really how they are supposed to work?

The story is spelled out in the trailer – a rookie cop sees veteran cops commit a murder, her body cam records it, and she is on the run with the evidence and has to get it downloaded at the precinct. The trailer suggests there’s a time limit, but it isn’t brought up in the movie. The dirty cops get the local gangster / drug kingpin involved in the hunt for the rookie, while also bringing in other corrupted cops.

Gotta say the most chilling scene in the movie was when the preteen boy from before has a gun pulled on him in self defense.

The raid on the apartment complex for the finale was pretty good, too. I did enjoy seeing Mike Colter as a grilled up bad guy out for revenge for the death of his nephew.

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