Month in Review: August ’19

Well, whaddya know! The little rink-a-dink movie theater down the road from me has just re-opened, and to the tune of recliner seats, dine-in options and a totally revamped lobby that actually makes you feel like you’ve made a good decision with your money by having trotted out to the Pictures. Cinépolis Mansfield (the new voiceover-person-thingy insists it’s pronounced se-NAH-po-leese) isn’t exactly the Cinerama Dome but it was getting to the point where it was the adult equivalent of spending time in a McDonald’s Play Place. There was one theater I went into one time where they had an entire row of seats cordoned off with what appeared to be police tape — the scene of a crime, perhaps? — with every seat damaged in some way and in some cases broken completely. Not exactly good for business in this era where we are ever more basing our decisions on convenience.

Despite the quality of its first incarnation here in Mansfield, New Jersey, the company has a solid reputation. Cinépolis (in essence, “City of Cinema”) is Mexico’s largest theater chain, and to my great surprise, the fourth largest in the world. In 1994, after a series of rebranding efforts and expansions, Cinépolis opened its first multiplex theaters in Tijuana. And those VIP/luxury tickets you enjoy from your local theater chain, you can thank them for that — “Cinépolis VIP” considered a pioneer of the modern Luxury Cinema concept.

Of course it would have been REALLY cool if we had managed to secure the South Korean company CJ 4DPLEX for overhaul duty. If you haven’t heard of the 4Dx in-seat experience (and I hadn’t until recently, I’ll be honest), this is some pretty nifty technology that takes immersive cinema to a whole new level, incorporating gizmos such as vibration/motion coils, air/water jets and yes, even a scent emitter — with apparently up to 100 different odors at the ready, all coordinated of course with the rhythm of the movie. So really, if you’ve ever been to Disney World you have an idea of how this works.

Unfortunately we here in the greater Hackettstown area won’t be smelling any of Adam Sandler’s farts any time soon. Actually, you know what, I’m fine with the renovations as they are . . . However, Cinépolis hopes to be serving beverages to patrons who are of age. All we need now is for them to, ya know, acquire that liquor license. (Thanks for literally going down in flames, Ruby Tuesday!) Indeed, the renovations have made going out to watch movies on the big screen more enjoyable again, more enticing. I’m looking forward to new experiences, accompanied by the occasional adult beverage perhaps. Hopefully you’re along for the ride with me!

Now let’s see what, if anything, happened on Thomas J during the month of August.

New Posts

(proceeds to, ironically, produce exactly no reviews for theatrical releases. Whoops.)

Streaming: Paddleton

Bite Sized Reviews 

Murder Mystery · June 14, 2019 · Directed by Kyle Newacheck · I can’t be the only one who almost forgot they ever saw Murder Mystery. In case you had (or are smarter than I and just plan to avoid it), this is the one where Adam Sandler and Jennifer Aniston team up as a married couple — Nick and Audrey Spitz — caught up in a bit of circumstantial trick-fuckery when they take a much-delayed honeymoon trip to Europe, only to find themselves accused of murdering a billionaire they barely get to know on his yacht (and who is played by a part-winking, part-wincing Luke Evans). What unfolds is a half-hearted Agatha Christie yarn wherein the only true stakes are personal, between a dishonest detective (he’s just a cop, Little Nicky still hasn’t passed his detective exam) and his frustrated wife. It doesn’t take Sherlock Holmes to figure out where the twists are leading, or really who the real killers are. Murder Mystery is directed by some Joe Schmo who somehow manages to convince Sandler to tone down the Sandler-isms, but the direction overall is rather workmanlike. But hey, at least this isn’t The Do-Over. What was it that I said about that movie? Something about never doing another Adam Sandler movie again, I think? (2/5) 

Notable First Time Viewings

It was time to put aside my biases against the shark-jumping franchise that has become Mission: Impossible. The modern action movie (give or take a Fury Road here, a John Wick there) is becoming homogenous, one IP barely distinguishable from the other in that they each consistently and obligingly trot out the Big Three elements: a sexy cast, at least one sexy car and exotic locales. James Bond, Mission: Impossible, even the Fast & Furious franchise — it’s all starting to sound, feel and even look the same. That said, the M:I movies do have an ace up their sleeve in the form of Tom Cruise. We may have differing views on scientology but no one’s going to deny Cruise has a death-wish — doing not only his own stunts in every movie, but doing increasingly insane ones.

Here’s the cast ranking Cruise’s risk-taking.

Mission: Impossible — Ghost Protocol OK. This was fun. The bit at the end there with Ethan Hunt spying on his estranged-but-not-by-choice wife is cheesy, but it’s all well taken. The team chemistry is a little different — we temporarily lose Ving Rhames but pick up Jeremy Renner and Paula Patton — but the action is what drives these movies. And what about that action? I rate the film’s signature Burj Khalifa sequence right up there with that green dress — pretty breathtaking.

Mission: Impossible — Rogue Nation A noticeable step up in quality, both in the overall story and the marriage of insane action set pieces and quieter character-driven moments. The stakes are convincingly more dire, and we get some robust supporting characters to help give the film more weight, such as Alec Baldwin, who’s on top form playing a hard-ass CIA director, and Rebecca Ferguson, who shows up as a force to be reckoned with, stealing both Tom Cruise’s thunder and my palpitating heart. This movie was actually quite impressive, especially considering the fact I was consuming this big spectacle on a 55-inch screen rather than a three-story-tall one. Rogue Nation‘s even more of a James Bond globe-trotting affair, but the writing has improved in general, so really, what’s so wrong with a little familiarity, even a little déjà vu? I’m excited that this film’s director/writer, Christopher McQuarrie, returns in the following film.)

And speaking of which, up next (maybe tonight): Fall-out. (This is going to get crazy, isn’t it?)

Beer of the Month

Firestone Walker’s Luponic Distortion is a true thing of beauty. The base beer for this series remains the same (an India Pale Ale), but every year they mix up the hop blend to create a slightly different flavor profile. The label on this year’s batch claims hints of Pina colada, key lime and nectarine, but I’m sorry. All I taste is 100% pure marijuana. And I am 200% okay with that.

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Photo credits: Tom Little;; 

11 thoughts on “Month in Review: August ’19

  1. Pingback: Month in Review: September ’19 | Thomas J

  2. Forgot to mention, there has never been a movie I’ve loved with Cruise in it. Whether it is the movies he selects, directors he works with… I know there were some classics in the 90’s but apart from that I’ve not seen a good movie with him in it bar that Edge of Tomorrow movie which was very cool, but I don’t remember it for him ya know

    Liked by 1 person

    • The one exception for me in terms of movies that I love with Tom Cruise in it is Minority Report. That movie is freaking awesome and I remember Cruise was really good in it. Magnolia is one of those movies everyone thought was amazing but I didn’t really care for it. I will say he was also really impressive in that one too. And I still have not seen Eyes Wide Shut, so can’t speak to that.


      • he was… good in eyes wide shut. Not great. You need to see that btw! He was awesome in Magnolia, that was awesome. Minority Report, fuck that pretty old now isn’t it? I should watch it again, its been yeeeeears

        Liked by 1 person

        • Yeah Minority Report’s I think from 2000 or 2002. Somewhere in there. Its really one of my favorite Spielberg movies, it’s rather underrated — but considering his oeuvre, I guess that ain’t surprising!


          • heh, I’ve never liked Spielberg much. No denying his talent, most of his stuff though just doesn’t align with my tastes. His first few movies I liked, Bridge of Spies I didn’t mind. I didn’t get around to watching his latest, though I should since I love sci-fi. I’ve never actually seen Schindler’s List, one of way too many glaring holes in what I should have seen already. I do remember liking the concept of Minority Report tho, a rewatch is in order I think!!

            Liked by 1 person

            • Spielberg definitely has this tendency to get schmaltz-y and overly sentimental in his stories. But he’s the guy behind Jaws and Saving Private Ryan. Oh, and Jurassic Park. So for me he’s an all-timer. Schindlers List is tough watching but also very good. Damn near essential viewing in my mind


              • yeah that last one is a big blindspot for me. I must admit I forgot about saving private ryan.. Jaws is obviously great too. I think its that overly sentimental tendency he has that puts me off. I mean, that is pretty much the exact reason Kubrick handed over that AI movie to Spielberg – it just wasn’t a Kubrick film.

                There are certainly films of his I need to see. Close Encounters and Schindler’s List would be at the top of that list.


  3. Totally with you on action movies. Its gotten to the point where I simply just don’t bother. Other than the typical cast you mentioned, there of course is the CGI monster movie which is even less appealing. Or more? Its hard to tell.

    That place looks great man! And I bet it’ll play more movies than we get here!! 😛


  4. Great to see you are watching the recent Mission: Impossible run. I really love what Christopher McQuarrie and Tom Cruise have done with it. As for Fallout – exactly what I want from a big blockbuster. It was my #1 film from last year and I’m standing by it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I started the movie too late last night, will have to either start over again or watch in two sittings. Darn the 2.5 hour runtime! Argh!

      I enjoyed what I saw of it. Henry Cavill is a force — wow. Angela Bassett is a huge . . . asset. (Sorry.) I can see why this movie topped your list, even from the first half of action. This is some pretty top-tier stuff. Not sure if I would call them my favorite action movies still, but I was certainly wrong by summarily dismissing the installments beyond M:I 3. I almost missed Rebecca Ferguson!

      Liked by 1 person

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