howl's moving castle (2004): other than going to an akira screening when i was in high school, my first real introduction to the world of anime was back during college. since then, i've sort of fallen out of love with japanese animation, and pretty much any sort of animated feature films. howl's moving castle is everything i hate about anime: expertly drawn quirky characters devoid of coherent plot. the pacing is also chinese water torture slow, with lengthy scenes lacking background music (to help advance what little there is of story) so there'd be stretches of silence. it's a movie i'll never want to see again and i suggest others to avoid as well. it's put me off of anime even more so now that i may never see another anime film for as long as i live. christian bale's affiliation to the film is that he voices one of the main characters (a bipolar gender-ambiguous wizard who's actually a bird demon), but since he doesn't actually appear onscreen, this is an asterisked bale movie at best. also, it was the only movie playing today that i never seen before (and i sort of wish i hadn't seen it, that's 2 hours of my life that i'll never get back).
the prestige (2006): a film that i saw last october, i gave it high marks and labeled it as a must-see. it's a movie that once you know the surprise ending, watching it again is actually just as satisfying just to spot the clues along the way. i've seen the film multiple times already, but this time around i realized how alfred borden magically appeared in sarah's apartment after just walking her home.
equilibrium (2002): this is another must-see film, and one that i actually saw in the theatres back in december 2002. 5 years later, i still think it has some of the most awesome action sequences i've ever seen. this was also the movie where the most people showed up (between 4-6pm) and i counted no less than 16 guests sprawled on couches and chairs and floor in elias and amanda's living room. though advertised as an action movie, there were many chick flick elements, including christian bale's display of his bicep pillows and a scene involving the rescue of a puppy from execution. however the ending is pure guy-friendly with a climatic gun and samurai sword battle (including a very graphic face slicing).
american psycho (2000): the movie takes place in the 80's and features an awesome 80's soundtrack. what more could you ask for? if only there was an karaoke option on the dvd! the plot itself is rather convoluted, and in the end you discover that maybe the american psycho just imagined everything. but oh what a ride! dark comedy at its best, who knew serial killing could be so funny! plus: christian bale naked flesh eye candy galore. watching american psycho seems like a prelude to the showtime series dexter, except you wouldn't want to hang out with patrick bateman (but would want dexter morgan to babysit your kids).
reign of fire (2002): after equilibrium, after american psycho, the audience was revved up for more hot male flesh action, and surely reign of fire wouldn't disappointment with the dream team casting of bale and matthew mcconaugney (mcconaugHOT!). only elias and i have seen this movie before, with everyone else being their first time. this film was actually scheduled to be the last movie of the evening and was actually a choice between this and batman begins (2006), but there was a general mutiny and reign of fire became the next film. it's actually a great audience participation movie because even though the film plays serious the idea of living dragons, the premise is still pretty far-fetched and lends itself to many inadvertently funny scenes, particularly any scenes with mcconaugney hamming it up as an american military dragonslayer.
machinist (2004): i watched this movie a few months ago (an internet download). it's well made and definitely suspenseful, but the payoff seems disappointingly weak when we finally get to it. the build-up was just too great, the ending simply underperformed. this second viewing i finally got the symbolism of trevor reznik's creepy weight-loss, a physical manifestation of being eaten away by guilt. call me an optimistic, but maybe i was hoping for a happier ending, but given the somber color palette and the overall mood of the film, that was probably a long shot. a side note: this is the third movie of michael ironside that features him losing his arm: there was also starship troopers (1997) (he was the one armed civics teacher) and total recall (1990) (he gets his arms ripped off in an elevator accident). typecasting, anyone?
by evening's end it was couples only, with just amanda and elias as well as 2 other pairs. dan left an hour before closing time in an effort to catch the subway and bus that would take him back home to malden. besides myself though, he was the only guest to have seen all 6 movies (although missing parts of the first and last films).
i got dressed and raced back home via motorcycle. it was 30 degrees, the coldest temperature i've ever ridden in. for the most part i was warm, except my ankles, my face, and my hands. my hands were so cold i alternated holding onto the handlebars just so i could warm them up a bit. actually, unless it snows (which can either mean ice on the roads or getting my motorcycle buried), there's no reason why i can't ride throughout the winter. i wish i could be hardcore enough like some bikers to ride here in new england all season long though. i think i'm still going to chicken out the first sign of a winter snowstorm. but technically it's still fall so i should continue riding based on principle alone.
zhu lei was home when i got back, using his laptop in the living room with the television on. i didn't say anything, just waved and retreated to my bedroom. soon afterwards he went to bed, this time remembering to turn off all the lights. i tiptoed into the living room and turned down the heat for the night. my mother called me this morning, confirmed my fear: she had already invited zhu lei and his girlfriend over for thanksgiving.