Tuesday, June 28, 2011

'Transformers: Dark of the Moon'

Autobots, Decepticons and global domination, oh my!
Last night I saw an advance screening of director Michael Bay’s sci-fi film “Transformers: Dark of the Moon,” a sequel to “Transformers” and “Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen,” at Muvico in West Palm Beach.
Sam Witwicky (Shia LaBeouf) again unites with the Autobots and the U.S. government to defend planet Earth.  Now, they’re in a race against the Decepticons to obtain vital technology located in a Cybertronian spacecraft hidden on the moon since it crashed there in the 1960s. And, it was that spacecraft’s crash, which prompted President John F. Kennedy to commission NASA’s moon landing in 1969.
The fact this film is said to be the final installment of the “Transformers,” combined with its big budget action and special effects extravaganza, will make it a summer blockbuster. I saw the film in 3D and IMAX, so my visual and audio senses got a work out, especially during the final, almost apocalyptic battle in Chicago. 
In my opinion, the stars of the film are not the humans, but the robots.  The drama between Optimus Prime, (voiced by Peter Cullen) and Sentinel Prime (voiced by Leonard Nimoy), is way more compelling than any of the human action going on.
The film tries to incorporate comedy, including a “Hangover-like” bathroom scene, and political jokes to go along with its initial D.C. setting.  And as a part of the drama element, you will witness the ho-hum love story of Sam and his new girlfriend, Carly (Rose Huntington Whiteley).  Also, shown is a kind-of-sort-of love triangle between Sam, Carly and her boss, Dylan (Patrick Dempsey).  When Dylan made his first appearance, I heard a woman in the theater exclaim, “It’s Dr. McDreamy!” referring to Dempsey’s popular role on “Grey’s Anatomy.” 
But, with that said, I don't think most will go see the film for a dynamic love story. Kids, as well as those who grew up watching the “Transformers” cartoon in the ‘80s, fans of the comic books or those who enjoyed the first two films, want to see the mutable robots in action. And it's lengthy action you'll get -- over two-and-a-half hours’ worth.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Want a Treat? Follow the Tweets.

It's Monday, so I'll be checking my Twitter feed to see where the dainty food truck will be. If you work in, live in or visit West Palm Beach, Monday through Friday you must try the Curbside Gourmet food truck. Founded in 2011, it's the first gourmet food truck in Palm Beach County.

Trust me, the food is not the average street food of hot dogs, hamburgers or chicken on a stick. You can expect gourmet fair like caramelized grapefruit, mint pea soup, blueberry iced tea and crab cake sliders. And, the prices are reasonable. I’ve paid the same price, if not more, for lunch at chain eateries. They also have daily specials, which are announced on Twitter along with the truck's location.

Grouper tacos
You can actually taste the flavor of the seasonal, local ingredients used. The cilantro in the grouper tacos sings! The grouper tacos are actually a fave for many. I remember the day I purchased the last batch. The news traveled down the line, and a woman even scolded me. It was all in jest. Everyone waiting on line is in a good mood because we know we’re about to please our palettes. The food is fresh and made to order. The staff is really friendly, and the experience is definitely a nice addition to the work week. The Curbside Gourmet serves breakfast, lunch and afternoon snacks. 


Friday, June 24, 2011

Smartphone Etiquette, Please

If a person is busy sending an e-mail or a text on their smartphone while having a one-on-one conversation with me, in person, I find that just plain rude.  Yeah rude, I’m not overreacting.  We all know time is of the essence, and multitasking is a good skill.   But, is it really necessary to piddle upon the keys of your smartphone, with your head down, when I’m asking you how your day is going? That scenario has happened to me many times with coworkers, at networking events and even with friends and family. 
Here’s another example.  Earlier this week, I was at a seminar/luncheon where a woman seated at the table in front of me was ferociously typing on her smartphone, with her head lowered, during each presentation – there were three.  She barely stopped to eat lunch.  And, it wasn’t a huge hall. It was an intimate setting, only about 40 of us.  The speakers were less than 6-feet away from her table. I even caught one of them glancing at her.  I pictured a bubble over his head, like in cartoons, saying to her, “You’re like school in the summertime: No class," quote by Rudy of “Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids.”
As a former adjunct instructor, I know how it feels to talk to an audience with members who are texting, or updating their Twitter status.  Though, they were 18 and 19-year-olds.  The students grew up with social media, and texting to them is like breathing.  I explained the error of their ways.  Still, there were a few who couldn’t stop their compulsion.  Yet, the woman at the luncheon is a professional in her 30s, she should know better.
All I’m saying is we are living in a society where technology has enabled us to isolate ourselves enough to only virtually socialize.  When we actually have human to human interaction and conversation, perhaps we can put the smartphone down.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

'The Art of Getting By'

I saw an advance screening of “The Art of Getting By” (PG-13) last night at Muvico in West Palm Beach.  The romantic comedy, distributed by Fox Searchlight Pictures, is a first feature for writer-director Gavin Wiesen.  It premiered at the 2011 Sundance Festival, though under the title, “Homework.”
The main character, George, is a senior at a prestigious high school in New York City.  He is into doodling and drawing all over his school books, rather than using them for actual school work.  His lack of completing homework assignments makes him frequently visit Principal Bill Martinson (Blair Underwood), and creates a looming threat of expulsion, instead of graduation.
George lives with his mother (Rita Wilson) and step-father in a well-to-do area of Manhattan.  He goes to a great school (which kind of has the “Gossip Girl” vibe) paid by his father, a business man who moved to China.  And, George is highly intelligent.  So, what’s George’s problem? He’s the brooding, philosophical artist who ponders constantly upon what’s the point of life if we are all going to die. The oversized, dark trench coat he wears metaphorically hides him.
His anti-social ways start to change when a friendship begins with his classmate, Sally.  Freddie Highmore and Emma Roberts were good picks for the characters of George and Sally.  Highmore was able to portray nerdy, misfit awkwardness, yet have a cute and endearing appeal. 

Roberts has an onscreen presence.  She did a good job portraying an 18-year-old female honing the skills of male manipulation learned by her mom, yet struggling to still experience youth.  Through scenes of underage drinking, partying, sleepovers, family fights and high school classes, we see a coming of age drama, with a privileged spin.  It is an independent film, so don’t expect the cinematography or storyline to be like a mainstream teen romantic comedy.
All in all, I wasn't excited by “The Art of Getting By." Perhaps because I’m not a preteen, teen, or can relate to the lifestyle of the main characters, what I took away most was the fact George’s teachers care about his success -- an important quality for teachers. A dose of tough love from Principal Martinson, and Ms. Herman (Alicia Silverstone) contributed positively to his situation.  In addition, I did see the groundwork for successful careers for Roberts and Highmore. And, as it is his first feature film, I did leave interested in seeing Wiesen's future projects.
The film opens June 17.


Wednesday, June 8, 2011

'Super 8'

Last night I had the opportunity to see an advance screening of Paramount Pictures’ "Super 8" (PG-13) at Muvico Parisian IMAX in West Palm Beach.  "Super 8" was written and directed by J.J. Abrams and produced by Steven Spielberg.
Among his credits, Abrams is the creator of "Alias," and co-creator of "Lost" -- two ABC hit TV series of which I've seen every episode.  Don't get me started on "Lost."  I still lament Wednesdays at 9 p.m., as my favorite TV show is no longer on the air.  He also directed "Star Trek" (2009), a nonstop, sci-fi thrill ride. And, Spielberg's roster of award-winning films contain countless of my favorites.
In “Super 8,” strange things are happening in Lillian, Ohio in 1979 following a late night train crash.  The intense crash, almost apocalyptic, is witnessed by a local group of pre-teens in the area filming a zombie movie, using Super 8 film, to submit to a film festival.  Dogs began to flee the city, electronic devices like microwaves go missing, and so do people, local police and military clash.  Intertwined in the plot are stories of family relationships.  The dynamics between main character Joe Lamb (Joel Courtney) and his father, Jackson Lamb (Kyle Chandler), after the death of Joe’s mother in a factory explosion, represents grieving, anger and acceptance, important themes in the film.
                                                                      See the trailer

I will not discuss the actual mystery.  It's a pet peeve of mine when someone spoils a plot, ruining one’s desire the go see the film.  What I will tell you is there’s no for need 3-D glasses, and you needn’t see a prequel to understand what's going on.  What I enjoyed about "Super 8" is good storytelling, with a message.  The film made me nostalgic, actually.  It's a nod to the Spielberg movies of my youth like "E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial” and "The Goonies" directed by Richard Donner, story by Spielberg. In films such as these, children used as main characters remind us of goodness, tolerance and acceptance, which should always be at the core of humanity.  Yet, "Super 8" also incorporates the mystery sequences, elements of surprise and symbolism that made "Lost" so popular.
At the theater I sat in front of two pre-teens.  The two really related with the youth in the film, laughing with them, shouting, "Oh, no!" when they were in peril.  I got the feeling they were affected in a positive way, especially by the ending when I heard a sniffle. I think the point of cinema is to be affected, and clearly these girls were, as was I.   
I thoroughly enjoyed the film. Check out “Super 8.”  And stay for the closing credits. 

Saturday, June 4, 2011

A Fashionable Law

The other day I walked behind a young man who wore white boxers and ceremoniously lifted up his pants with each step. Did I want to know the color of his boxers? No. Did I wish I had a belt I could give him? Yes.

Every now and then, fashion fads raise eyebrows and make one scratch one’s head. During my youth there was the Gumby haircut, Hammer pants, bamboo door knocker earrings, shoulder pads and biker shorts. Now, it's "droopy drawers." Though, here in the state of Florida, young men need to purchase pants that fit, or hefty belts as the Florida Legislature passed the SB 228 bill in May, which requires school boards to modify their code of conduct to forbid the wearing of clothing that exposes one's underwear. Repercussions range from a verbal warning and parental notice to in-school suspension. The bill was sent to Governor Scott's desk for a signature.

I don't particularly like seeing saggy pants. I think it looks sloppy and not fashionable at all. Yet, I hope that will not be the only focus of SB 228. It should not only target young men, but focus on young women, too. I've seen many school age girls who wear low-rider jeans, and tops which expose their undergarments. To keep it fair, you can't call it the "droopy draws bill" as it singles out only young men.

But, can teen fashion really be regulated by a bill? Or, does it ultimately come down to parental control? I guess we'll see. I just wish the quality of education for students would also be a focus in Florida legislature.