Tag Archives: Movies

Growing up with Spielberg’s Mother

23 Feb
My recollections inspire me to write my first blog in over a year…
When I was young, I remember meeting Steven Spielberg and his then-girlfriend Kate Capshaw. This was the late 1980s as he was donating/dedicating a Torah scroll to her synagogue Chabad. It was awesome. I got my favorite director in the world’s autograph, and then was confused why the blonde chick from Temple of Doom was with him, but got her autograph too on the same paper (I still have it).
But that wasn’t the best part. The special part was that he knew everyone there was a friend or big fan of HIS MOTHER, Lee (technically Leah) Adler.
She was so proud, because we – her community – was finally meeting her accomplished son. Most of the people there were not telling him how much they loved his movies, but rather how much they loved his adorable mother!
I got my first job in high school, each summer I would work at Morry’s, an adorable market/produce store, and it was RIGHT next to Lee’s kosher restaurant The Milky Way. She would come in EVERY SINGLE DAY and buy fresh produce for her place. She’d always have her bodyguard at her side, but this bodyguard was a lady who everyone knew as her (tall) friend, so if you didn’t know better you’d think it was a friend or family member always hanging out with her.
She was the most sweet, lovely, warm and generous of spirit woman you could be lucky to meet. I would get a hug each time, and she would invite me to come eat there whenever I wanted. But then again, she would treat everyone else the same way. (For one of countless examples, read my close friend Arnon Shorr’s beautiful memories of her here.)
She would also come with her shul/synagogue to my parent’s garden each year on Rosh Hashana to do “Tashlich” in our pond, throwing bread to our fish. It would be surreal, this tiny, adorable woman who had one of the most famous children in the world, was standing in our backyard, and giving me hugs like she knew me – because she did – but even if she didn’t, that’s how she made EVERYONE feel. People meeting her for the first time could feel that same instant-connection to her. Honestly just one of the sweetest people you could meet.
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Her close connection to her famous son is what inspired him to make one of the greatest movies of all time, Schindler’s List. Her first husband, Spielberg’s father Arnold (who is still alive at 100!), had lost family in the Holocaust, and Lee continued to tell stories about it and emphasize the importance of remembering your past – Spielberg loved his parents enough to be inspired and make that masterpiece of a film. When most people in the world saw that his date at the Oscars was his mother, they must have said “awwww”; when my Jewish community watched it that year, we all beamed and said, “Look, that’s Lee, can’t wait to wish her a mazel tov!”.
She was the “other woman” in his life, and we were damn proud.
She will be missed. By me. By many.
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My Movie Theater Recommendations

11 Feb

For years my friends, coworkers and readers have asked me to write a blog explaining WHERE to see movies. Sure people know where one is playing, but that’s usually where it ends. Often they’ll come back from their movie-night and make any of the following complaints:

– “It was sold out”

– “It was so full that we got lousy seats”

– “Parking was awful, and by the time we walked in the movie had started”

– “I sat down on a hypodermic needle, and it wasn’t even mine”

Yes I realize that you can solve many of these problems by buying advanced tickets online, but that is simply more expensive, prevents you from ever using discount tickets, and don’t get me started on those aforementioned hypodermic needles. Well, I don’t have all of the answers, but my seeing an insane number of movies (in the theater) each year has taught me the numerous pros and cons of each location, including many juicy nuggets you haven’t thought of. So for my fellow Angeleno readers, consider this your new Lonely Planet for LA Theaters…

(NOTE: This is not a ranking, I simply tried to lists the theaters in the order I visit them from most to least often.)

AMC

AMC Century City 15

How busy – Try to avoid it on weekends. If I’m seeing an older movie at 11pm on a Saturday night then sure, it should be no problem. But a movie during prime-time you’ve got almost no shot unless you buy advanced tickets. On a weeknight on the other hand you should have no problem unless it’s an extremely popular one in its opening week. This is one of my least favorite targets for a weekend, but one of my ideal locations to go on a weeknight.

Seats – As with most theaters on my list these are nice stadium seats – that’s almost a given in today’s day and age. Remember the old days when you’d decide where to sit based on who’s in front of you? What a wonderful thing to leave in the past! And the seats are assigned, which is a double-edged sword in my opinion.

Screens – No small screens here, and a handful of really big ones that I’ll mention later on.

Outside food policy – Moderate. They technically don’t allow you to bring food in, but they also won’t question that big shopping bag in your hand, so be respectful and clean up after yourself if you do!

Parking – Free for exactly 3 hours as long as you validate at the theater. After that I believe it’s 4 bucks at the 3 hours and 1 minute mark.

Tidbits – They also have their fake version of IMAX (nice, large screen but don’t get my started on how it’s not a real IMAX screen), and I haven’t tried it yet but Mike & Jared went to see American Sniper in their ETX room, and apparently the seats are leather, recline, vibrate and have speakers built-in. (Raise your hand if you’re excited to see Fifty Shades of Grey there!)

A quick rant – The theater chain a year or so ago decided that it wouldn’t violate any laws or ethics to start charging a surcharge on each (prepaid) discount pass you use. People who paid for a pass that supposedly covers the full purchase of the movie suddenly were told to give extra money, something incredibly unethical. Other popular theaters such as The Grove have created surcharges in the past, but have printed new passes that give this warning in the fine print; if you have a previous pass from before the change, they still accept it without the surcharge. I’m still quite annoyed at AMC for continuing this unsavory business practice.

Grove

Pacific’s The Grove Stadium 14

How busy – Very similar to the busy-factor of Century City, but even MORE crazy on weekends due to the crowds at the outdoor-mall. This would be dead-last in my list of theaters to visit on a Saturday night, but once again no problem on a weeknight.

Seats – Ditto to above: stadium seating, and assigned seating.

Screens – All are a good size, and some are really big (cue Michael Scott).

Outside food policy – Open. Beautifully wide open. This is the one and only theater I’ve found in all of LA that 100% allows outside food, it’s fantastic! I’ve tested this countless times by walking in with a giant pizza box and the only response I get from them as I enter is “Where’s my slice?”. I appreciate this amenity so much, and although I’ll sneak food into just about any theater, it’s great to be able to bring in something fresh and hot with no fear of “getting caught”.

Parking – $2.50 for the first 4 hours with validation. And if you ignore my advice and come on a Saturday night, then enjoy spending an hour trying to park, or better yet just go straight up to the roof where you’ll hopefully find a spot.

Tidbits – Next door my friends Seth, Frank and “Big” Mike all work at the Cheesecake Factory, a place that Adi claims I’d never leave if I was willing to eat non-kosher food. Another tidbit, the stock photo above shows a marquee for two movies I’ve not only seen, but reviewed on this blog. Feel free to take a walk down memory lane with Snitch, and Jack The Giant Slayer.

Culver City

Pacific Culver Stadium 12

How busy – My favorite choice on a Saturday night, because it does get busy, but RARELY enough to sell out. I’ll go there pretty much anytime, unless it’s an insanely popular movie’s opening weekend.

Seats – Yes stadium seating, but unlike the previous theaters you can choose any seat you want once you enter the theater – something I personally prefer.

Screens – Slightly smaller screens than the previous theaters, but still not bad at all.

Outside food policy – Easy/Moderate. Like most theaters they “don’t allow” it, but this theater is super chill, sometimes I can’t even find someone to take my ticket as I enter!

Parking – On Saturday nights it is sometimes tough thanks to the lovely Downtown Culver City really blooming the last few years. But on any given night there are multiple nearby parking lots, and all of them are free with validation for 4 hours.

More Images : www.tiny.cc/mgpfb  |

Tidbits – We had our engagement photo-shoot in this exact spot, and the theater was completely chill about us coming in and taking photos inside a theater, even though we asked last-minute and offered them nothing for it. As the example above shows, such great shots and memories came from here!

Landmark

The Landmark

How busy – On weekends, extremely. The theaters are smaller, and the crowds are huge, so either buy your tickets in advance online, or don’t bother going on a weekend. On a weeknight on the other hand you can generally get a ticket.

Seats – Yes stadium seating, and yes assigned seats, but here you get something very cool – the living-room theaters! A few of the screens have leather couches instead of chairs and the front row even gives you a foot-rest. It’s really comfortable and my only “complaint” is that the couches have low backings so taller people may get uncomfortable unless they slouch. But definitely a fun way to see a movie. For anyone going on a date, this could be a much more “intimate” way to see a movie.

Screens – A few are large, most are medium, and the living room screens are pretty small, so sit in the front few rows for those. And FYI one or two of their medium-sized screens are placed awkwardly high up, so if you see a movie in those rooms you’ll want to sit in a row further back or you’ll be straining your neck to look up the entire flick. Weird design, right?

Outside food policy – Moderate. They do have a nicer concession stand than most theaters, serving coffee, tea and nuts.

Parking – Busy on weekends as well. Free parking for 3 hours with theater validation. Strangely, when you exit on the Pico Boulevard side, the gate is often already up and you can just drive straight out.

Tidbits – In June of 2007 I had my birthday party at this theater, where we literally bought out the entire living-room theater and watched Son of Rambow. They charged us only 7 bucks per person back then. The sound and sight of a theater packed full of your friends watching a movie with you? Priceless.

Sundance

Sundance Sunset Cinema

How busy – Not usually too hard to get into, but I usually only go on Tuesdays (I’ll explain why below)

Seats – Very nice leather seats with plenty of space between each person for food.

Screens – Generally medium to small-sized, but perfectly fine.

Outside food policy – Moderate. They have a nice bar for wine and beer as well as some nice other goodies at the concession stand, and people can order food to bring inside the theater.

Parking – Easy to find within the parking lot, and 3 hours free parking with validation.

Tidbits – Why do I go on Tuesday nights? They have 6 dollar movies all day and night! This theater is quite expensive the rest of the time, but any movie, anytime on a Tuesday for 6 bucks? Quite the bargain.

Howard Hughes Cinemark

 

Cinemark 18 & XD

How busy – This is my other favorite theater for Saturday nights. I’ve never had trouble getting into a movie, any night of the week.

Seats – Typically good stadium seating chairs, and choose any seat you want when you arrive.

Screens – Medium to large screens.

Outside food policy – Moderate.

Parking – 3 dollars flat-rate as you enter on weekends and weeknights.

Tidbits – The downsides of this theater are that it’s a bit further for me to get to (Howard Hughes Center, off the 405), and a lot of loud teenagers tend to hang out here, making it more likely than the previous theaters that you’ll encounter an inconsiderate, noisy audience.

Magic Johnson Rave

Rave Cinemas Baldwin Hills 15

How busy – I’ve only been here a handful of times, but have never had trouble getting a seat.

Seats – Newly built theater with stadium seating and no assigned seating.

Screens – Medium

Outside food policy – Strict. This is the only place I’ve ever been to where they checked my bags, and sent me away due to outside food.

Parking – An outdoor parking lot, and totally free.

Tidbits – This used to be known as the Magic Johnson theater in Crenshaw, and my friends thought it was funny that I’d travel all the way there to catch movies. Well now some of them have seen the light after trying it, and want to give this place repeat business. They closed the theater down and rebuilt it, and now you have a brand new theater which is as nice as any other, while being the cheapest place I know of for new movies in LA! They offer student discounts and other discounts, and it usually costs between 5 to 7 dollars per movie when I go. In fact even if you don’t have a student ID, Wednesdays all day are just 6 dollars a movie, even 3D showings!

Westwood

Regency Village and Bruin Theaters

How busy – Mostly empty. It’s so easy to get tickets, even if it’s the opening weekend of a popular movie.

Seats – Old-school chairs and no stadium seating, so don’t sit behind someone tall. (Not a problem since there are always tons of empty seats.)

Screens – Huge! These are some of the oldest theaters in LA, and each of them has just one screen, but it’s a giant one!

Outside food policy – Medium strict. They have Starbucks and candy stores right by it and tons of UCLA students as customers, so they really try to keep outside food from entering with you.

Parking – Usually you’ll have to pick from one of the nearby lots and pay a flat rate. There is also metered parking but it’s usually enforced until late at night.

Tidbits – This is where many movie premieres used to take place, (it’s quite historic) and now it’s sadly underutilized. I look forward to my birthday party year after year being in one of these theaters (across the street from each other), and they always rope off however many rows I need and give us a huge discount. Many, many great memories are from here. Fun fact: If there’s a line to buy tickets in front of you, just walk across the street to the other theater and they’ll let you buy tickets for either location!

 

Of course there are other theaters in the city, and some of them are nicer than the rest:

– The Arclight in Hollywood is fantastic, but since it offers zero discount passes or cheap days, I avoid it. How else can I afford to see so many movies each year?!

– Ditto for the Chinese Theater in Hollywood, the main screen is massive and historic, but the rest of the screens are very average and just too darn expensive for no apparent reason.

– The various theaters on 3rd Street Promenade are all last resort choices for me, because it takes forever to find parking, and the theaters are old-school without any stadium seating. But I’ll still go if that’s the last place a movie is playing – hell, I’ll go anywhere.

– Universal Citywalk has a great theater with many screens, but call me crazy – I try to avoid driving to the valley and paying 10 bucks for parking.

So there you have it, a new guide for my friends and readers living in Los Angeles that should make you much more prepared to have a successful movie-night. (If you live in the valley and are shouting, “WHAT ABOUT ME?!” I make no apologies!)

The 2014 Movie Tally – A Year In (Comedic) Review

13 Jan

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A whole year goes by, and I’ve barely been blogging. What gives?!

Granted, I’ve been incredibly busy helping my hospital transition from old-fashioned paper charting, to our newly improved electronic medical records. I’ve also been continuing with school full-time for a higher nursing degree. But dammit, not only my movie-blogging has suffered, but my actual movie-going has too. This year marks the absolute lowest number of movies I’ve seen since…well, since I’ve started counting in college! (EDITOR NOTE: Boaz started counting from a very young age, not in his college years, he is simply referring to keeping count of his movie tally in the above statement. Any attempts to disparage Boaz and his ability to count, spell or read will be subject to lawsuit.)

While it may be unrealistic for me to think I’ll have the time to ever blog about EVERY movie I see – as I did once before – I do have a few attainable goals in mind for 2015:

1. See more movies. I need to get back to my roots and get my average back up closer to 150 per year. When you read my final number for the year you may notice it’s still more movies than anyone else you know. Nonetheless, it makes me sad inside. And teacher says that every time Boaz is sad an Angel loses his wings.

2. Blog more. Even if not constantly, just needs to happen more often. I miss writing, and a few kind readers have told me they miss reading them, so the narcissist in me must feed the devoted audience. Let’s put it this way, my next blog had better not be catching you up with my tally for 2015.

3. “Forget” to leave the toilet seat up once or twice. My wife Adi has gotten so used to me being a good husband, it’s time I bring back a little slapstick to the house. The only thing funnier than seeing someone slip on a banana peel is the noise of someone screaming and splashing as they “fall” into a toilet. Comedy gold…

4. Be a good husband and listen more, and do what Adi wants for a change because…wait, we have time for a QUADRUPLE feature on Sunday?!

Okay, now that my wish list for 2015 is on full display…

Final count for movies I saw in the theater during 2014:

– 103 movies!

– Sounds like a lot? Consider that my old average was 150, and my last two years were 135 and 139 respectably.

– This includes what I saw in the theater between January 1st and December 31st of 2014.

Ready for the breakdown of who I saw them with? Here is where many of my friends come into the picture, and I’ll give examples of movie highs and lows from each friend…

1. Adi – 71 movies. Tsk tsk, in 2012 she saw 106 with her crazy boyfriend. In 2013 she saw 87 with her obsessed fiancé. But in 2014 she saw only 71 movies with her one-track husband. Are you sensing a pattern here? Should I be worrying about my marriage? I went on at least 3 hikes with her last year, but I only get 71 movies in return? I know what you’re all thinking, men give and women take, it’s an age-old tale…I’m still unsure what I would call the year’s best movie, but the absolute 100% most FUN I had at the movies this year was a tie between Guardians of the Galaxy and X-Men: Days of Future Past. Marvel is starting to challenge Pixar as the most consistently clever, entertaining and creative movie empire in town. They keep churning out big spectacles and surprising us with good writing, smart directors and great casting. You definitely get your money’s worth…

2. Jared – 12 movies. While this is a slight decline from the 15 he saw with me in 2013, it’s actually quite impressive considering he lived in Pasadena. Now that he’s moving nearby to the city, just imagine how much better 2015 might be. The sky’s the limit…for Jared and Boaz that is. Adi may already be a lost cause with her pathetic 71 movie count. The most creative/cool/inventive movie of the year: Snowpiercer. Most disappointing movies of the year given my expectations: Tie between The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty and The Gambler. Both sucked, and I don’t say that often as readers should know.

3. Mittelman – 9 movies. The one friend I have who actually has and uses the movie app. I’m still not convinced it would work well for me, but I gotta love a friend who can see a movie every 24 hours with me. Best movie of the year you heard of but didn’t know was great: Chef. The movie that will likely (and deservedly) win Best Picture that you still haven’t seen: Boyhood (wow, what a film-making feat!)

4. Avish – 9 movies. Avish is such a good friend, she will literally come see a movie she wasn’t interested in just because Adi and I walked to the movie theater and will eventually need a ride home. She also has taste that typically is limited to art-house indies, but then randomly she’ll need to see Winnie The Pooh above all else. I saw some pretty great movies with her, but the one that was absolutely fantastic, and you probably think was a mindless blockbuster sequel: Dawn of the Planet of the Apes. It won’t even be considered for the major Oscars, and that’s simply sad. Because it was awesome. Awesome. AWE-SOME. (Rule of thumb: anything with Andy Serkis doing motion capture is awesome, If he played the big screen version of Mr. Hanky The Christmas Poo he would probably warrant an Oscar nomination.)

5. Shlomo – 7 movies. The one friend I can count on to ask me to save him a certain movie, then see that movie when it comes out, and then complain that I made him see it with me when he hates it. Every time. Classic Shlom…he reminds me of that underrated Jon Lovitz cartoon The Critic, since the first thing he says after almost every movie is “it sucked!”. Somehow I’m almost disappointed when he doesn’t say it…The best fighting scenes of any movie this year: Tie between John Wick and The Raid 2. If you’re a fan of (who cares what the plot is but) incredible action sequences, don’t miss either of them.

6a. Mike B. – 5 movies. He really wanted to be higher on the list this year, and he just barely did, but c’mon Mikey, we used to see dozens a year, we can do better than this next time! Mike holds the special distinction of being able to remember every movie he’s ever seen with me, as well as the date and theater we saw it in. But did he remember to bring milk from the grocery store like his wife asked? I think not! Best movie for anyone who plays fantasy football or watches the real thing: Draft Day. This Kevin Costner movie got trashed by most critics, but it was fun, tight and exciting, and…oh get your head out of the gutter!

6b. Ephraim – 5 movies. Sadly, this friend moved away to the Windy City, so I expect he won’t be on this list in future years. But what a great guy to see movies with…if you don’t mind someone LOUDLY TALKING AND COMPLAINING THROUGHOUT IT. And therefore yes, he was the absolute perfect person to see Blended and Tammy with this year, both quite lame and way more fun thanks to his running-at-the-mouth complaints.

6c. Josh B. – 5 movies. This sucks! Josh was the title-winner the previous few years (after Adi of course) and this year he plummeted down from 16 to 5. But wait you might argue (if you know him) that he just had a baby, that changes everything! Ah, but I know something that you don’t know, his baby is not left-handed! Oh, and also it was born at the end of the year, so it really wasn’t a relevant factor. Instead I must resign myself to the knowledge that he simply chose not to see as many movies with me, and our once strong friendship is clearly slipping away into the ether…Runner-up (to Planet of the Apes) as the best movie of the year that you THOUGHT was a big, dumb blockbuster, but was actually smart and awesome: Edge of Tomorrow. Yes, Tom Cruise was in a clever and hilarious sci-fi movie. It happened.

7a. Shira G. – 4 movies. My friend used to live miles away and I’d see hordes of movies with her. Now she lives a few blocks from here and we’re only at 4 for the year? Must be something I said…Great movie that shows that even funny Saturday Night Live actors can act amazingly well in dramas that make you want to kill yourself. Bravo: The Skeleton Twins.

7b. Cindy – 4 movies. All year Cindy kept telling me she needs to get back onto the movie list. You see we used to watch many together, but then she got a job and it became more difficult. So Cindy did the only sensible thing anyone in her situation would do: she changed jobs so that she could start working from home in order to see more movies with me again. Welcome back to the list Cindy, I expect great things from 2015…Movie and studio who’s hype is starting to confuse me: Disney’s Big Hero 6. I liked the movie. I really did. But I have the same problem with this as I did the previous year with Disney’s Frozen. Too many people said it was the greatest thing since sliced bread. Frozen was a very pretty and entertaining movie with some nice songs and a story that says that men suck and sisters are the only true love out there. Awesome, liked it. But it wasn’t the greatest movie, cartoon or anything in ages, just good Disney fun. Big Hero 6 once again was a really entertaining movie. In fact I liked it more than Frozen. But when Cindy told me that her friends were raving that it was the best movie of the year I may have lost my faith in humanity for just a moment.

7d. Nathan – 4 movies. This friend spent the early part of the year piloting helicopters for the army and still managed to make the list. For those of you who think you don’t have the time to see a movie with me because of your busy lives in LA, for shame…Best cartoon of the year: The LEGO Movie. There were so many clever jokes thrown out during the movie that I honestly need to see it again.

I’ll stop my breakdown right there, but honorable mention goes to the following friends who saw 3 with me: Kavka, Yoni, Jason R., Dan & Michelle,

And a special shameful shout-out to Patrick, Abe and Farnaz, who all made the cut last year but this year saw nothing but my birthday movie with me. I didn’t know we were having problems with our friendships, but clearly I need to redraft my will before it gets too late.

Speaking of my birthday movie, I’ll finish off with this fun photo that sums up my 2014 movie year as well as my friends: a whole bunch of us crazies camped out late at night to see the absolutely phenomenal X-Men sequel. Many people were fans of the series, many more just came to spend time doing what I love for my birthday, but all of us had a damn fun night together…at the movies!

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The 2013 Boaz Movie Tally (Where Have I Been?!)

25 Mar

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Synopsis: “An obsessed movie blogger tries to make his big comeback. The problem – he doesn’t know where to start!”

The synopsis above is true, I genuinely have no idea where to even begin. My last movie post was on June 26th. That’s enough for an entire inception, conception, incubation and delivery of a human baby. In that amount of time Adi read about 15-20 books, and I must have read a much more impressive 36 issues of Entertainment Weekly (sorry Adi, men are simply faster readers than women, blame science).

In that time I’ve tried my best to keep up with countless TV show series (I could easily have an entire TV blog too, trust me), I’ve hosted countless poker games (okay that’s a lie, I actually keep a poker tally so I could tell you exactly how many poker games I’ve hosted), an yes, I’ve continued to see MANY moves inside a movie theater with Adi and/or friends. So what gives? Why have I literally not posted for 36 plus weeks?

Here’s what happened in 2012:

-I got engaged in February, but that’s old news that I proudly wrote about here.

-I passed my nursing board exam in April, and got a job at Saint John’s in Santa Monica in May where I worked for a few months as a CNA waiting for the new graduate RN program to begin.

-I started as an RN in August, and within 2 weeks I also started a Master’s program to help further my nursing license. Am I happy to be back in school so soon? Not in the slightest. Is it important for my career? Unfortunately, yup.

-I spent months with Adi planning our AMAZING wedding, and we even had our dear friend Sarah design table cards that were movie titles instead of numbers. Here’s a photo below of friends Steve & Nava posing with one ironic movie title in particular…

11-24-13 - Our Wedding! (1)

-So yeah, we got married in November! Want further pictorial evidence? Alright…

New York City Wedding Photography

 

Toward the end of 2013 things calmed down a bit. I was working full-time,and in school full-time, but felt ready to return to this movie blog. BUT…I didn’t know where to start…and truthfully I still don’t. I had continued to watch streams of movies, and never stopped my plan to create a post about each and every one. But what started as my being behind by one or two movies, became one or two dozen, and at this point I haven’t written about scores of movies. Anyone who has read a single one of my blog posts knows that even my shorter posts tend to be essays, and it’s hard for me to do anything half-arsed (pardon my “English”).

I continued to create the skeletons of each movie blog I would hope to create, and there are now many dozens of drafts which are simply the movie posters and synopsis, collecting dust, and waiting for me to add some personal content. So here is my plan, and my “New Year’s Resolution” for 2013. I will revisit the movies I saw this past year, but actually write short blurbs – not novellas. This way at least each one will be documented for posterity, and anyone reading can at least see the bottom-line that stems from my warped, movie-loving brain.

And what better way to begin than with my 2013 movie tally? My friends always look forward to this overview of my year, and some of them even use it as bizarre motivation to see MORE movies with me, so they can move higher up in the ranks the next year. I find that both hilarious, and flattering at the same time!

My movie tally is calculated using an admittedly bizarre method, and I think this will be the last year I do it in this way. Let me explain for those  who are virgins to my process…

The following is the count of movies which were RELEASED IN USA THEATERS IN 2013. This means some of these movies were seen in 2014, but they actually came out last year. This process is strange, and often means I’m counting movies which were released for a week for Oscar contention and then properly released again this year, so I’ve decided that after being mocked for doing it this way for years (instead of just counting how many I saw in a calendar year), I will change things NEXT time around…

Final count for 2013 releases seen by me in a movie theater:

-135 movies total

-This is surprisingly close to last year’s total of 139

-This is still DOWN from my historic average of 150

Overall considering the crazy busy year I had, not too shabby…

Now for the fun breakdown, the people who I saw multiple movies with, starting with the obvious:

  • Adi – 87 (Down from 106 in 2012, but considering she was also planning a wedding with me, as well as starting a new job that involves her frequent travel, I’d say it’s a pretty darn awesome number!)
  • Josh B. – 16 (Once again second place after Adi. The most “what the hell did I just see” moment in any movie of this year: Tie between the nudity in Trance, and the windshield scene in The Counselor.)
  • Jared – 15 (Nipping at Josh’s heels, though most of them were in the first half of 2013. The nicest movie theater experience I had all year: Elysium, at the iPic theater in Pasadena.)
  • Yoni – 6 (If he didn’t live in the valley, no doubt this would be a higher number. The most FUN we had watching a movie last year: Tyler Perry’s Temptation: Confessions Of A Marriage Counselor.)
  • Elizabeth – 6 (Had a lot of fun seeing movies with Josh’s better half, but possibly the most underrated movie I saw last year: the extremely witty Beautiful Creatures.)
  • Ephraim – 6 (Many great examples here, but I’ll go with one of my biggest disappointments of 2013: A Good Day To Die Hard.)
  • Abe – 6 (The multi-way tie continues with the always-entertaining Abe, whose geeky side best shines through when seeing something like: Star Trek Into Darkness)
  • Farnaz – 5 (Abe’s far prettier half enjoyed most movies we saw together last year, but not this frat-humor one: 21 & Over.)
  • Shira G. – 5 (The most insane “we just drove an hour in the car to see this double feature”: Planes followed by Smurfs 2.)
  • Avish – 4 (The most disappointing movie of the year, given my expectations after watching the previews: The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty.)
  • Howard – 3 (The most funny, gory, brainless sequel this year could possibly offer: Machete Kills.)
  • Patrick – 3 (A hell of a great movie-going weekend: Saturday night – The Wolf Of Wall Street, Sunday morning – Nebraska. Awesomeness.)
  • Matti – 3 (I still resent that Matti moved away to the mid-west, because who else do I have to see crap like Safe Haven with now, if not him? The madness!)
  • Mike B. – 3 (One of my former “top movie-going friends” and someone I believe will move higher in the ranks next year. Movie that most exemplifies multiple layers of our friendship: Runner Runner.)

That finishes my roundup for the year. If I want to go really dark with my humor, I could now do an “In Memoriam” for the people who made the list last year but who now seemed to have better things to do with their time than sit in a dark room with me for 2 hours. I’m looking at you Nicole, Cindy and Harwin (among others). What happened?!

On that accusatory note, I finish my welcome-back blog, and look forward to many many SHORT catch-ups in the foreseeable future, where I continue to invite you to peer into my movie-addled brain and enjoy the show.

The (Crazy) True Story Of My Video Collection

18 Mar

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Synopsis: “An epic story about one man’s obsessive movie purchase, and his need to let it go…12 years later!” (Rated PG; 12 years, 4 days)

Why do I look so down-in-the-dumps? It wasn’t easy giving up my prized movie collection, there’s quite a history behind it. To understand what happened with me today, on March 18th, 2013, I must first revisit the past…

1996

A few months after graduating high-school, my friend Josh Rothstein told me to swing by the new Blockbuster Video store where a staff of new employees were helping to get the store ready for its grand opening the next week. After chatting with Josh for a few minutes, he told me to fill out a job application. The thought of working while I was in college honestly hadn’t even occurred to me yet, and Josh was only being half-serious, so I took the application and did a very Boaz-typical thing: I filled it out as a prank, and it looked something like this:

NAME – Freddy Krueger

ADDRESS – 666 Elm Street

REFERENCES – Jeffrey Dahmer, Jack the Ripper, Charles Manson, Josh Rothstein (yes, I included my friend’s name)

HAVE YOU EVER BEEN CONVICTED OF A FELONY? – “Convicted?” No, I’m too smart for that!

You get the idea: amusing, juvenile answers. I then walked away to chat with Josh, and was surprised to find the store manager laughing as he read through my application that was left out. He then approached me, and asked when I could start. Confused, I explained that it should have been obvious that it wasn’t a real application. He laughed again, and insisted that I work anyway, and could get started the next day. Feeling confused, and caught off-guard, I accepted the job offer; and so began my illustrious career at Blockbuster Video, which would last about 3 1/2 years and create my massive video collection….but I’m getting ahead of myself.

1997

I got another job working for a Beverly Hills real estate attorney, Stacy Sokol, organizing his office, and wasn’t exactly enamored with the minimum wage pay I was getting from Blockbuster; so it was time to call it quits. Speaking with my manager, I informed him of my new job and that I was done. In a panic, he asked me if I could stay on anyway. I answered no, I would be making twice the money at the other job, so what was the point? He then asked if he could create a new job just for me, where I’d come in on Saturday nights (their busiest night of the week) and just stand around giving people movie suggestions. I was so blown away by the flattery of this idea – and absolutely loved doling out movie suggestions – but realized that this would mean not being able to go OUT to the movies on Saturday nights, and again I politely declined.

Exasperated, my manager asked me, “What WOULD keep you working here? Just tell me!” I laughed, and jokingly responded:

-Not needing to wear a uniform

-Doing whatever I please when I come

-Not having any shifts, and showing up whenever I want, for however long I want

-Getting the store a better selection of movies (a constant irritation of mine when they didn’t have the movies I was trying to recommend)

The response by my manager? “DONE!”

1998-2000

Over the course of the next few years, I was a strange version of an employee of Blockbuster Video, which made no real sense. I wasn’t a manager, but I did have a manager’s password which gave me some authority, and allowed me to make purchase orders. I didn’t wear a uniform in spite of the fact that even managers needed to wear those navy-blue polo shirts with khaki pants. I was still paid a lowly minimum wage. Whenever the district or regional managers would come by, I was told to go home or pretend I was a customer so they wouldn’t ask me any questions. I showed up for an hour here and there as I pleased, and I spent my time giving recommendations to customers (who loved me), cleaning up and organizing the shelves (in line with the “neat freak” aspect of me), and most of all ordering new movies for the store.

During this time, countless employees came and left, including my friend Josh. I went through 8 managers in total, each one of them inherited me as this bizarre fixture to the store who they could not tame. I sang the same tune each time a new one was hired.

NEW MANAGER – I hear you don’t do normal things here, that needs to change. From now on you’ll be wearing  a uniform and working a normal shift, we can’t just have a job that exists exclusively for you.

BOAZ – No problem, I have another job at a law firm, I was only here for the free rentals and to enjoy improving my community store, so I understand.

Previous manager whispers something to the new manager.

NEW MANAGER – Okay, we’ll make it work.

In the meantime, the store slowly but surely began to burst at the seams due to the vast number of movies I was ordering. Try to understand, I was like a kid in a candy store being given the ability to order NEW delicious candies, along with the realization that I couldn’t get any cavities or be stuck with any bills. It was a beautiful thing for this movie-loving college kid at his local video store!

The movies which were originally facing forward, with plenty of space between them, became closer and closer together as I kept adding more and more titles to its video library. Eventually, many of the shelves needed to display side-facing movies, in order to fit them all. Customers would know that if there was a movie the store didn’t have, you could just ask Boaz and he’d order it no questions asked. There’s little doubt that it became the best-stocked video store in the country. Were these all great movies? Absolutely not. If they had Puppet Master II but not the other sequels, I made sure to order them, spare no expense! In fact, there were hundreds of movies which were out-of-print and the only way to get them would be by finding a preexisting copy at another Blockbuster location and ask them kindly to send it to me. I literally spent hundreds of hours finding those stores, and getting them shipped to us. Every day the UPS delivery man was my personal Santa Claus, delivering anywhere from 5-20 boxes just for me. It was not uncommon for me to show up after missing a few days, and finding a pile of boxes behind the counter that looked like they were barricading an attack from enemy fire. And in case it isn’t clear: I loved it!

Then one day in the year 2000, the 9th manager was hired, and she wasn’t going to deal with my crazy routine. This manager had been hired because apparently there was a lot of spending going on from our particular store (hmmm), and a strict “no more purchasing movies” doctrine had been created. This was both because we had more movies than the Smithsonian, and also because DVDs were starting to make all of these VHS tapes a thing of the past. Since I could not continue working the way I had enjoyed so much for the previous few years, I thanked her and left my job at Blockbuster Video.

Christmas, 2000

During a random visit to rent a video from Blockbuster one day, the only remaining employee who had worked with me exclaimed, “Boaz, you can buy movies for ten cents each!” I rolled my eyes, and said, “suuuure”, knowing this couldn’t possibly be true. He then explained, “No, I’m being serious. They’re getting rid of most VHS tapes in Blockbuster to make space for DVDs. What they’re doing is putting all of them at $2.99 each. At the moment, there’s a two dollars off per movie sale. But if you use my employee discount, it’s 20% off BEFORE the two dollars are removed, so it comes out WITH TAX to 44 cents per movie. But this week is Christmas, so we have 30% off; so it actually comes out to ten cents each…total. And you can totally use my employee discount to get whatever you want!”

If you think I was like a kid in a candy store WORKING there, just imagine how I felt knowing I could take them home with me. I literally went downstairs to Ralph’s, borrowed one of their shopping carts, and started to FILL UP the cart with a copy of every single movie they were selling. Ten cents each, how could I not?! In fact I didn’t mind if it was a terrible movie I would never want to watch twice, there were many places including Tower Records and 20/20 Video which would purchase any VHS tape for a 25 cents up to 1 dollar each, so there was literally no downside. Silence of the Lambs? Check. The Godfather Trilogy? Yep. Puppet Master III? Got it!

March 14, 2001

The Video Purchase! (2)

See that? It’s a photograph of my friend Kathi helping me with just a fraction of the movies purchased! This was March 14, 2001, a day we dedicated to start the massive process of going through the hundreds and hundreds of movies, putting them in cover boxes, alphabetizing them, and organizing them onto the shelves of my room and throughout the house. By the end, there would be nearly two thousand movies purchased over the course of a few months, and the shelves in my parent’s house looked like a cross between Blockbuster Video and an episode of Hoarders.

2001-2013

Over the years, countless friends would come over to borrow a dozen movies at a time. My friends Mike, Adynna, Steve & Nava even bought me a funny gift one year; video rental stationary so I could track who borrows what. (And no, I never charged anyone a penny for this, I just didn’t want to lose any!) But the more time passed, the less people borrowed them, and even I stopped using VHS tapes since On Demand and Netflix truly made the need  for it redundant. In fact I asked around and there was NOWHERE left to even sell these movies. 20/20 Video? Nope. Tower Records? Not anymore. Aron’s Records in Hollywood? Not even them.

In early March 2013, my mother asked me to “please get rid of them” so she could finally reclaim the 40 or so shelves in the house as her own, and put books and other sensible items on them. I came across a few people selling “vintage” items in their garage sales, including a handful of VHS tapes. I approached them and asked if they would like to sell countless more that I need to get rid of. Their answer? “No thanks, not even the ones we have here end up selling.” My mother had met a man who was willing to sell things on eBay for people. What was his answer when she asked him if he’d try to sell the video collection? “Sorry, no can do, they just won’t sell.”

March 18, 2013

3-18-13 - Removing & Donating all of the Videos! (4)

Now that we’ve revisited the past, we are back in the present. The photograph above shows most of the shelves emptied of their video-contents, as I was putting them all into trash bags (with the help of our wonderful handyman Herminio) to take to the local donation center. Saddened by the thought of giving them all up, I realized it doesn’t have to be all-or-nothing in life. What if “just a few” of them stayed behind, so that this crazy collection that numbered in the thousands, could be just a few shelves of GOOD titles? Maybe they’d never be watched again, but I wasn’t quite ready to let go of everything just yet. So…

3-18-13 - Removing & Donating all of the Videos! (2)

I separated the classics; kept movies that I would want to see if I had a “greatest hits” compilation of videos. Maybe they wouldn’t be watched anytime soon, maybe never again since we are now living in a digital age, but keeping these few HUNDRED allowed me to feel better about letting go of the other few THOUSAND.  Heck, giving up an addiction cold turkey isn’t always the right strategy, is it?!

3-18-13 - Removing & Donating all of the Videos! (3)

I got a haircut (as seen above) and made the drop-off of the donation. All told they received 19 trash bags and 4 boxes FILLED with video tapes. The donation center was thrilled (and probably intimidated), and more importantly, my mother finally had her shelf space back. All was right in the world again. Boaz’s movie obsession would continue in the movie theater and via this blog, while the VHS obsession that started long ago by a college student filling out a prank job application, came full circle to an end.