20 Years Ago

My life changed 20 years ago today. Okay, maybe there was a few days leading up to today, but May 19th, 1999 is the date I recall. How do I know this date? Two words.

Jar-Jar Binks.

Yes, Star Wars Episode 1 is celebrating it’s 20th Anniversary. With it comes my memories of a previous job. Coinciding with the Star Wars debut was the opening of the 19 theater multiplex called “Colossus“. Working as a projectionist was always my dream growing up. It came true once I began my job opening weekend of this movie theater.

I spent nearly five years working at Colossus (read about it here) with many people calling me a “Lifer“. The term originally coined as a derogatory- you’ll never amount to anything– phrase. But I did become a “Lifer” because my life changed over the course of my time at the theater.

  • I lost my father
  • I met my future wife
  • I got engaged
  • I got married
  • We had a kid
  • I don’t know if any of this would’ve mattered in any other context. But for me- Colossus was a bigger part of my life than high school was. In fact I was ready to try and gather up old Coloss-hole coworkers for a reunion. But I thought better of it. Partly because it’s the long weekend. And also because I don’t know if other people feel the same as I do about our previous lives there.
  • The changes we have all been through make us who we are. Even Colossus has changed over the years.
  • So instead, I am writing this quick blog. A THANK YOU letter of sorts to everyone who made an impact on my life two decades ago. I miss you all tremendously and have fond memories of our zany antics. I hope all is well with your lives.
  • See you at the movies.
  • Batman 30 Years Later

    This weekend, the Cineplex theaters cross Canada are showing limited screenings of Batman from 1989. Naturally I had to go and see it on the big screen again. I love this version of the caped crusader.

    Back when I was thirteen, this version of Batman was my first foray into seeing comic book superhero films on the big screen. (Seeing Superman IV in 1987 doesn’t count as it was an extremely bad film.) My mother was gracious enough to take me to this film on opening night. She knew I loved the magic of cinematic story telling. My mother always made sure that I saw films opening weekend so that I wouldn’t miss out. Seeing movies was something my mother always did for me. It probably played a big role into why I wanted to be a projectionist- a goal that came to fruition many years later. A job which I enjoyed tremendously. (Thanks mom.)

    Coming back to today’s blog…

    For DC Comics, Batman has always been a safe bet. I became obsessed with Keaton’s Batman. I learned everything I could about the film- buying magazines and comics- which I still own. As well, I watched any interview or tv spot about the film. Did I mention the Prince soundtrack? I listened to that on cassette for months on end. So much so that I have memorized every lyric as well as when the audio clips show up in the film. Nerd alert.

    Batman has always been important to me. Probably the only DC superhero that I like. Going to the multiplex to watch a 30 year old film when there’s newer/ flashier films out there seemed counterproductive. Ya, we saw Avengers:Endgame on opening night, but seeing Tim Burton’s Batman once more on the big screen was important to me. I shared this moment with my two youngest children. In a theater that holds 234 people- seven of us watched a screening of Batman.

    For a film that brought forth some of the greatest aspects of the Batman franchise -like Keaton’s line “I’m Batman” or the theme music still used in the LEGO Batman series- it surprised me that the theater was empty. Why is this? I dunno.

    Earlier in the day, I was walking around town and on two separate occasions, young kids pointed out my Batman shirt. Everyone from kids to parents know Batman. Why not share a cinematic joy like the 1989 version?

    In a few days Cineplex will be showing the sequel. I won’t be seeing it on the big screen again. When I was younger, I saw Batman Returns THREE TIMES ON OPENING DAY back in 1992 at the old Willowbrook 6 theater. I think they got my money’s worth back then. As well, don’t expect me to watch the other two sequels they have planned for next week. Keaton’s Batman is the best of this series.

    If you want to see any of these films, check out Cineplex Special Events to buy tickets. $6.99 a ticket isn’t a bad deal if only six other people are in the cinema with you. If Batman isn’t your thing- they have some Indian Jones going on as well this month.

    What are you first memories of superhero films on the big screen?

    Did you like Tim Burton’s Batman?

    Let me know in the comments.

    Don Quixote

    You think you can hide from me? We shall have such great adventures together.

    On Wednesday April 10th, there was a limited screening of “The Man Who Killed Don Quixote” by Terry Gilliam. I have been waiting years for this film. About a month ago, I found out this screening was happening- As I mentioned in My blog last month, I love Monty Python and Terry Gilliam. So I found someone else who equally appreciates these things and I bought two tickets to a film.

    As I watched this film in an uncrowded cinema, I realized that his movies speak to a select audience. These aren’t Marvel or Star Wars. But it’s not exactly artsy either. It’s like having a dream come to life and everyone around is sharing it with you.

    For my friend and I, this film did not disappoint. Terry Gilliam successfully shared a marvelous adventure through the art of celluloid. If you watch previous films of Mr. Gilliam, you can stitch together sensations from each of his pieces. As if this film is the culmination or even the pinnacle of his film making career.

    Time Bandits


    The Adventures Of Baron Munchausen

    The Fisher King

    12 Monkeys

    Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas

    The Brothers Grimm

    The Imaginarium Of Doctor Parnassus

    All of these play a part in the cinematic experience that created Don Quixote. From dream sequences to the angle of the artistic shots. From humor to homelessness and helplessness. The way insanity spreads and takes over but somehow makes everything better.

    So there you have it. No spoilers. No criticisms. Perhaps one day I shall read the book. A peasant like you cannot read. I will sound the words and you can look at the pictures.

    To tell you that I enjoyed the film would be meaningless.

    But I enjoyed the film.

    Kill Bill

    Last Saturday I revisited an old film series- Kill Bill Vol 1&2. We often show our children films from our past that we found to be entertaining. Sometimes films don’t hold up- sorry Encino Man but wow you are a terrible film. While other times the films remain incredible.

    Kill Bill is the type of film that really holds up. From the musical score, to the cinematography, to the story arcs, to the monologues- this film nails it. There is really nothing negative to say about the film.

    • Strong female lead? Check
    • Action packed? Check
    • Plot twists? Check
  • During the film, we discussed every aspect. Our oldest is interested in film making and is trying to find her vision. Our middle wants to be a writer and loves to dissect film and tv shows to understand how they piece together. And our youngest tries to read into foreshadows to guess where the story will lead to. I love that each of them can take something unique and different away from our viewings.
  • As much as I love the fact that this film holds up, I also understand that it’s not everyone’s cup of tea. The scenes are a bit gratuitous in the violent aspect but are necessary for the story. I mean with a title like Kill Bill someone has to die.
  • For those who love a good Tarantino film- go back and re-watch Kill Bill. There’s no need for me to give a review of this film because of how long it’s been since it was released. Now to figure out our next family movie. I wonder if Howard The Duck is any good…

    Transforming my childhood

    I was ten years old when Transformers: The Movie came out.  Today marks the 30th Anniversary of its theatrical release.

    I love sharing nostalgic moments from my youth.  This film is one of my favorites.  There are lots of people who were devastated watching this film.  I wasn’t one of them.  Killing off beloved characters changed the way I looked at life.  Sure, my heroes fell, but new ones arose.  Reading back about why the movie killed characters and how Hasbro was wanting a new toy line introduced makes sense from a marketing standpoint.  Heck I bought into it and that Christmas, my gosh did I receive a bunch of new toys.

    The summer of 1986 and the release of Transformers on the big screen mattered to a child of my age.  I was jealous of my friend who saw the film opening night at our local multiplex.  I was forced to listen to plot points, spoilers and new Transformers.  A female Transformer?  A Weird Al song in a film?  Death and destruction by a planet?  Megatron revamped into Galvatron?  My brain was exploding with anguish and frustration.  I begged my parents to take me to the film.  My mother took me to a matinee later that weekend.  Most likely to shut me up and get it over with.

    Photo courtesy Cinematour. The theater has since been torn down.

    Willowbrook 6 Cinemas.  Anyone who grew up in Langley during the 80’s & 90’s remember this place.  Lineups ran around the outside of the building under the red canopies.  Parking was limited so people often parked across at the mall.  The term “Blockbuster” made sense back then.  

    Inside Willowbrook 6 were six small theaters that held a couple hundred people in each.  There was one long concession stand and a couple arcade games & pinball machines along the walls near the washrooms.  The theater seats sucked by today’s standards but were cushioned and squeaky.  The floor was a sloped, painted cement which allowed for spilled sodas to find their way from the back of the auditorium to the front.  At the end of the shows, under your shoes were a goopy messy- sticking to popcorn and candy as you left to return home.

    I spent many more years attending movies here.  As I grew up, I went with friends or on dates without having parents tag along.  I also learned the art of sneaking into “R” rated films or seeing multiple shows in one day.  Most of my DVD collection is of movies I saw from my youth.  Jurassic Park, Batman, Nightmare Before Christmas, Toy Story, the list goes on.  But Transformers, that film meant something to me that most of my friends also experienced.  We all lost someone dear to us.

    But I saw death as what it truly was: the ending as well as the beginning of a journey.  People die (or in this case robots) and the rest of the world goes on fighting.  Losing Optimus sucked.  But there wasn’t anything terrible about it.  The film moved on & so did I.  I still love the movie and will be watching it later today.  The big named voice actors, the killer soundtrack, the action- it is 1980’s animated movie magic at its finest.  

    Excuse me while I try and find my old toys and make them watch it with me- similar to how my children bring their toys to watch films as well.  As if there is a life inside these inanimate objects just wanting to burst forth.  All the feels…

    Movie Sequels: The Search For More Money

    The magic of cinema.  It draws you into a world different from your own.  At a young age I always loved movies, mostly sci-fi and fantasy.  I grew up with adventure stories that seemed larger than life and gave my imagination something to dream of.  Musicals filled me with joy. Science fiction brought forth my imagination. From Annie to Star Wars, The Goonies to The Dark Crystal, Tron to Ghostbusters- they all sit near and dear to my soul.

    The past couple of decades has seen a rise in remakes, sequels, & prequels.  What was once left to the “B” movies back in the 70’s, became more mainstream.  Hollywood is afraid of creating new characters and stories for people to enjoy.  If something extraordinary takes hold of the box office, the studio execs are quick to pounce on the money maker and exploit a new franchise quickly.  I’m not trying to be cynical of the machine. I’m more trying to figure out why it works the way it does.  Does it always come down to money?

    This summer (like most summers) there will be sequels, rehashes of old characters, and crowds of people flocking to the cinemas.  We all want to be entertained.  Friends talk about the latest big film.  People are afraid of missing out.  But what happens when a movie that we hope will be good, turns out to be really, really bad?  

    Really not needed…

    A few years ago, I really enjoyed Tron:Legacy.  It was far better than the first Tron film.  But it didn’t do well at the box office, so they killed the next sequel that was planned.  I’m totally ok with that.  When I was six, the film E.T. came out.  It stayed in the top spot of the box office for six weeks.  34 years later and there is no talk of a sequel.  That’s the way it should be.

    Disney has now decided to do a sequel to their beloved classic, Mary Poppins.  It is scheduled to come out in 2018- 54 years after the original film.  Why?  Does society need this?  Is there some sort of closure that never came from the original film?

    This year has an X-Men sequel, Ghostbusters reboot, two films involving Batman, a Star Wars side story film, a Pixar sequel, raunchy comedy sequels, live action remakes of cartoon films, and so on and so forth…

    The machine needs money to grease it up.  I know that sequels, remakes, and prequels will be happening as long as films are being made.  I’m not saying I won’t be contributing to this- I’m just going to be more selective of where my money will be going.