In 2010 I saw 100 different movies in 100 different theaters. Here are the details.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

49. Date Night

CineLux Almaden Cinema

According to this article, CineLux's Almaden Cinema opened some time prior to September, 2000.  But I now have it from a colleague of mine that this theater was operating as early as 1978, when a boy she had just met called her from the movies to ask her to his prom.  I was also corrected on the pronunciation, from al-MA-den to AL-ma-den.

The theater is in one corner of the Willow Glen Shopping Center, just across the Guadalupe River from San Jose's Willow Glen district.  Willow Glen, incorporated in 1927, was absorbed into San Jose in 1936 (source).  The district has seen two other theaters, the Willow Glen Theatre (1932-1949) and the Garden Theatre (1949-1988).  Perhaps the Almaden hastened the end of the Garden.

Matinee tickets (before 5:00 PM) are $5.50.  On Terrific Tuesdays, tickets are only $4.50, except for special engagements.  New releases do not automatically qualify as special, so you might get lucky.  The theater offers online ticketing without any fee tacked on.

The concession stand bisects the lobby.  They sell vegan popcorn and kettle corn, and have lemonade to drink.  The style of the lobby makes me suspect that the theater was last remodeled in the late 1980s or early 1990s.

The lobby contains an ATM, some kind of lotto machine, free posters for the upcoming Salt, and the same Movie Facts flyers I saw at their Tennant Station theater.  The CineLux e-newsletter (shared between the Almaden, Tennant Station, and Plaza theaters) is one of the more comprehensive newsletters I've been receiving lately, including showtimes, posters and descriptions of movies, box office statistics, and trivia (with answers the following week).

The theater seats a total of 488 in its five auditoriums, at least one of which is now equipped with a 3-D projector.  The seats are comfortable.  The walls have attractive geometric designs on them (below).  And the staff are friendly.


A photographer named Robert Kawika Sheer does some interesting work casting shadows onto buildings, rocks, and other rustic surfaces.  I don't know how he does it (he doesn't use computer after-effects); the images as so crisp, I can't explain it with time lapse or over-exposure.

A singer, Tricia Greenwood, has an album that according to the advertisement I saw is called "Your Too Good", but on her website it has been corrected to "You're Too Good".  When she makes it big, the lucky few with a "Your Too Good" CD can say they are the true fans, who knew her before she could conjugate.  (Sorry, that's a low blow; I make that mistake all the time.)

A creative time-lapse video shows an avocado pit, rescued from the trash, placed in water, sprouting, planted, growing into a tall tree, and bearing fruit.  Someone picks the fruit and makes guacamole with it.   (Not an attractive sight, despite how delicious it is.)  And what do they do with the pit?  They throw it away!  Have they learned nothing from the video they just showed us, that with some TLC an avocado pit can produce free guacamole?


Sex and the City 2 (Trailer 2)

Why spoil fashionable outfits by spilling plot all over them?  Okay, so it's the kind of plot you can easily pat off with a lint remover, but still.  Our four leading ladies now have motivation for their trip to abroad: it'll be fun!  And while abroad, Sarah Jessica Parker's fidelity will be tested by bumping into ex-beau John Corbett.  We get some humor ("You're on a camel in the middle of the Arabian desert; if you're not having a hot flash, you're dead"), deep thought ("What happens after you say 'I do'?"), some sentimentality ("We're soul mates"), and more glamor (though Kim Cattrall's outfit in the "You are fun in Abu Dhabi" scene looks like Warchief Thrall and the '80s had a baby together).  Is the foreign skyline we see in the trailer supposed to be Abu Dhabi?  I can't find any pictures of the skyline that even slightly resemble it; does Hollywood just make stuff up or what?  129 cuts.

The Losers

(Previously reviewed)

The A-Team (Trailer 2)

This trailer is better than the first, perhaps in response to marketing research revealing that of the 1% of the population who still remember the show, the team member any of them can name is Mr. T.  Does Liam Neeson's nose look altered to you?  (If ever you doubt what an altered nose can do to transform an actor, see The Hours or Bounce).  This trailer clumsily works in the title of the film, blows up a lot of stuff, and has Bradley Cooper shooting a gun from a tank that is flying through the air.  That's all kinds of man.  162 cuts, just shy of the current record.

Date Night

Claire and Phil Foster (Tina Fey and Steve Carell) are married, settled, and in a rut.  Claire is a real estate agent; by the time she gets home, feeds everyone, and cleans the house, the last thing she wants is to be bumping into drawers her husband has left open (he leaves so many drawers open, the house is in a perpetual state of looking ransacked).  Phil has some sort of corporate job; though he doesn't quite pull his weight around the house, that's partly because Claire doesn't trust him with even the simplest of duties.  A bit emasculated, and wishing that Claire were friskier at night, Phil is as frustrated as his wife.  They both receive a romantic wake up call, though, when they independently learn that two of their friends are getting a divorced.  Is Claire's and Phil's marriage heading for disaster as well?  Are they just roommates at this point?  Where is the romance?  In an attempt to spice things up, they head into the city to the hottest new restaurant, swipe the reservations of two no-shows, and begin to have a great time together.  Then two thugs approach them, mistaking them for the people whose reservation they took, and demand that Claire and Phil return the property they stole from a local mobster (Ray Liotta).

The plot is a simple mix of mistaken identities and hapless detectives.  The more that Claire and Phil argue that they are just a married couple from the suburbs, the more convinced the bad guys are that the two are expert con artists.  To survive, Claire and Phil try to find the property they've supposedly stolen, and to figure out why it's so important.  Along the way they meet a disbelieving cop (Taraji P. Henson), the original reservation holders (James Franco and Mila Kunis), and a shirtless, ex-black-ops techno-wizard (Mark Wahlberg), whose good looks inspire Phil to utter the movie's one profanity (here's a funny article on the subject of the one f-bomb allowed per PG-13 movie).

(Mark Wahlberg makes good movies.  Does he ever make garbage?  When you hear the words "Wahlberg" and "garbage" in the same sentence, you might be tempted to think of The Happening, which did indeed try my patience.  Or, if you've made the same poor choices that I've made, you might even think of the killer angels in Max Payne.  But when I hear the words "Wahlberg" and "garbage" paired togeter, I think about how much garbage I'd be willing to eat just to see that man with his shirt off.  The only working actor with more charm than Wahlberg is George Clooney.  If those two kings ever made a movie together, it would be a perfect storm of charisma.)

This movie has a lot going for it, and trips only rarely.  It walks a fine line between putting our heroes in peril, but somehow keeping them alive without turning them into closet super spies.  Think True Lies, but if Schwarzenegger had the same limited skill set as Curtis.  The dialog is witty and surprising.  Neither director Shawn Levy (Night at the Museum) nor writer Josh Klausner (Shrek the Third) have turned out previous work of this caliber, so perhaps the credit is due to Fey's and Carrell's improv abilities.

What keeps the movie light is that Claire and Phil care as much about the health of their marriage as they do about surviving their predicament.  Yes, they're being chased by killers.  But that doesn't mean they shouldn't stop to discuss who needs to pick up the kids from school.  (And they're a little drunk, so they might not quite understand the level of danger they're in.)  Even in tense situations they employ language consistent with their domestic roles (as an argument breaks out in front of them, Claire says, "I feel like you're losing control of the room, Phil").  Even though the humor is typically at their expense, because of the absurd situations they get themselves into, they aren't buffoons.  They don't mock each other; rather they are sweet and respectful.  Very refreshing.

Remember, there's nothing like running for your life to make you once again appreciate your spouse's good physique.  Try it some time.

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