Friday, August 29, 2008

end of summer thoughts and Tropic Thunder

As August comes to an end, I might as well raise my post count for August to make up for my four posts last July. I'm back at Pratt Institute over this Saturday and classes start either Monday or Tuesday depending on whether or not Pratt recognizes Labor Day as a real holiday. My personal life's been fairly busy over the summer, between getting around to getting that driver's license I pushed aside for two years and a pretty awesome internship at Save the Children working on various web related assets I didn't really have much downtime so going back to Pratt feels more or less like getting back to what I've been doing the entire summer, save for 12 hour work days and five hours of sleep.

I'm spending my past few days off packing my stuff for the big move in on Saturday and enjoying my newly purchased Xbox 360 playing a mix between The Orange Box, Viva Pinata and The Darkness as well as a watching a few DivX files that I was able to snag off of Veoh. For most of August I spent my time playing The Darkness (a steal at $9, pick it up if you haven't) and I'm maybe about four hours into Half-Life 2 from The Orange Box. I never really saw myself enjoying either of those titles as the only FPS games I've really played over the past generation were the Metroid Prime trilogy and arcade style multiplayer titles like Timesplitters 2. The Darkness really never felt like a first person shooter game between the emphasis on your large heart eating tentacles and most of the action sequences being more of a puzzle than an adrenaline also kind of helped that the cursor's auto-aim made it pretty easy to nail headshots in the single player campaign. Also while the dialogue and voice acting is a bit questionable at times the overarching story is quite good. The Achievements are really easy too, which is a huge plus.

Likewise, I've been having a blast with the first four hours of Half-Life 2. Despite being four years late to the game it really hasn't aged much at all and the graphics on my 1080p television are about on par with most modern Xbox 360 titles and I haven't seen a single title with such an ingenious use of physics for puzzles and its use of the game engine to tell a story as opposed to cutting in and out of cutscenes. On top of that I played through the Internet and critic darling Portal yesterday and while I enjoyed the game's creativity I didn't really see it as the second coming or anything. At the moment I feel the same way about the game as I did when I got around to seeing Napoleon Dynamite a year and a half after the film was in theaters. While I could admire the film for what it was I found it annoying when I could recognize just about every other unfunny line from a hoody I've seen in the mall. A lot of the slick writing that Portal has, was driven into the ground by getting quoted and referenced by internet forums and by the end of the relatively short two hour playtime I found myself doing too many of the same things to solve puzzles and I feel if the game was any longer the concept would run thin. I'm pretty confident the Xbox Live Arcade semi-sequel Portal: Still Alive will get lower than expected reviews.

Onward to movies:
Tropic Thunder - Honestly, I've never really been a huge fan of Ben Stiller. Even when he was at his "best" in There's Something About Mary, he's mostly been exclusively in mediocre films over the past six or seven years and I was caught by surprise when I saw Tropic Thunder's 84% on Rotten Tomatoes. At first I thought it was like Talladega Nights or Blades of Glory where the film received positive press from the tongue-in-cheek celebrity and pop-culture references wrapped around the premise of an incredibly dumb movie. While Tropic Thunder had a lot of those elements the real beauty of it was in how it transcended the celebrity cameo stage and went on to lampoon just about every aspect of Hollywood and the ego-driven Academy Award seeking actors. While Tom Cruise's cameo was a little grating at times, especially when they had him dancing to rap music, this was counterbalanced by both a hilarious and surprisingly well-acted comedy role of Robert Downey Jr.

The Wackness - Oh god, The Wackness just about represented everything I can't stand about most indie movies, it was a completely pretentious movie that believed it was more original than it actually was with a cliche-ridden story and "editing" that at times felt like an overblown music video. While what was there wasn't really that bad especially with the film crammed with quite a few deliberate references to 1994, it was never particularly any good in any of the scenes. I guess it had Ben Kingsley making out with one of the Olsen twins in one scene, which may make it worth it but the chances are you'd find that scene on YouTube before the film even hits DVD.

Re-Animator - I caught this screening as a part of The Avon Theatre's Cult Classics summer line-up. Like their screening of The Animation Show they featured some vintage trailers at the beginning which ran maybe 10 minutes too long. Luckily, Re-Animator was a fantastic movie that served functionally as a well-written and directed horror movie as well as a hilarious B-movie due to the special effects not looking nearly as impressive in this CG-ridden effects day and age. Granted, Re-Animator had some black humor sprinkled around the film and the violence was over the top...I'm also sure the film's persistent effort to show Barbara Crampton's breasts did little to make the audience take the film seriously...there was also an evil zombie cat in there too that was killed with a shovel...and a talking severed head. On its own merits, this was a hilarious and well-made B-horror film that should probably have a place in my DVD collection.

The Pixar Story - Really good documentary, at times it felt almost like a promotional video for Pixar animation studios but with it being cut up into a special feature on the WALL-E DVD it all makes sense. The best part would have to be when they shown an early storyboarded version of Toy Story which under Jeffrey Katzenberg's (now of Shrek producing fame) suggestion was "edgy and adult" which was ultimately panned by Disney. I'd wait for WALL-E to come on DVD to see this again but pretty well made otherwise.

Singin' in the Rain - I'm not one for classic movies but this one caught me by surprise. Its weird to watch a film that was made in the '50s that is nostalgic of a simpler time. I loved the musical numbers, the direction made each song feel really fresh and I'd never know that the majority of the songs were never written for the movie. Completely awesome and many of the jokes were every bit as funny and snappy as they were in the 1950s, a rarity for a G-rated film.

I watched Morgan Spurlock's latest documentary Where in the World is Osama Bin Laden (1.5/4) sadly it wasn't half as good as his earlier documentary Supersize Me and it felt incredibly fabricated. I also loved Clerks 2 (3/4) and Uwe Boll's Postal (0.5/4) was every bit as unwatchably bad as I was expecting but it might just be worth watching just for Uwe Boll's incredibly shameless and hilarious cameo in the film.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Hell froze over, Chris Cookson got an Xbox 360

Last generation, Microsoft's Xbox left a bad taste in my mouth. Between the thing's massive child killing bulk and hideous industrial design, it looked like something that was trying to hard to appeal to immature 13 year old boys and little else. The console had some of the best games of the last generation with the Halo franchise generating critical acclaim and record breaking sales and Knights of the Old Republic putting Bioware on the map as a Western RPG powerhouse. Ultimately, the console lost Microsoft $4 billion but they wound up in a secure 2nd place position worldwide, pulling ahead of Nintendo's Gamecube despite the Xbox's weak Japanese sales but nowhere near touching the dominance of the Playstation 2 last generation.

Fast forward to this generation, the Wii flew under most analyst and developer's radars and is now the #1 selling console even beating out the Xbox 360 which was out a year longer than the Wii. Sony's Playstation 3 was a sales disaster and the Microsoft Xbox
360 firmly sits in second place. While the Wii's hardware is flying off the shelves the software sales are actually lower than the 360 implying that many might just purchase the Wii system as a tech toy with the packed in Wii Sports demo as opposed to a full-fledged multimedia console. Most of the best selling games are either first party tiles (much like the Gamecube) or the most casual poorly reviewed shovelware titles like Carnival Games and High School Musical: Sing It becoming million sellers. While I could ignore the onslaught of low-budget cash-in titles with Super Smash Bros. Brawl and Super Mario Galaxy being close to perfection but after seeing Nintendo at E3 touting the embarrassing Wii Music as their holiday killer-app and an all too similar looking sequel to Animal Crossing as their "hardcore" title, I felt as though Microsoft's Xbox 360 had more titles coming for Nintendo fanboys than the Wii did.

Over the years Microsoft has been slowly going after my heart between buying out Rare, getting an exclusive karaoke title from the creators of Elite Beat Agents and a three game exclusive trilogy Silicon Knights, the guys who did the cult classic Gamecube title Eternal Darknes
s: Sanity's Requiem. Now that Rare's finally back up on its feet with Kameo and Viva Pinata getting rave reviews and a third entry in the Nintendo 64's popular Banjo-Kazooie franchise. With my summer job and all, I actually had enough money to pounce on the Xbox 360 as soon as I saw the 20 GB model for $270 at Circuit City and a copy of Viva Pinata to supplement that Forza Motorspot 2 game that Microsoft kindly handed out at their job recruiting presentation at Pratt Institute. I also picked up The Darkness and the Ratatouille video game off of bargain bin shelves. You can keep track of my various Xbox 360 related antics on the right nav of this blog.

My first surprise with the Xbox 360 came with just how feature rich it
was. Even if you took out the entire next-gen game functionality you'd have a product that would rival the Apple TV. The console could play all Quicktime, Windows Media, Xvid and DivX encoded videos off of a burnt DVD/CD, your wireless network or any USB device plugged into one of the systems three USB ports. You can also charge your iPod and stream your songs and playlists to the Xbox and play it instead of the normal background music for any given game. Factor in its easy connectivity to the TiVo-esque Windows Media Center and the fact that its a functional upscaling DVD player and you have a system that rivals whatever you can find on cable TV at any given moment. I mean, if you know how to use BitTorrent and search Veoh properly, there's an endless amount of entertainment you can potentially get on this time. It was a fantastic feeling to tell my family about the Helvetica movie caught a screening of and listened to a Q and A with the respective director at Pratt and be able to watch it within three hours of telling them.

As a Nintendo fanboy I was kind of afraid that the Xbox 360 would mostly o
nly have American first person shooters and action games, not to mention a slew of bratty foul-mouthed 12 year olds on Xbox Live. While both of the statements are still kind of true in my mind, the console is still pretty solid if you just avoid Xbox Live altogether. I remembered how devastated I was when Microsoft bought Rare back in 2002 and I viewed their final Nintendo published game, Star Fox Adventures as the last swan song for the company I also felt that after a number of key members left the studio for Free Radical and Zoonami I didn't think the company could ever return to its former greatness. After playing around four or five hours of Viva Pinata, that couldn't be further from the truth. I remembered laughing when I heard that Microsoft was trying to market the title as the next Pokemon with merchandise and a television series, while those ambitions never really caught on, the game has a deceptively simple concept but it contains a lot of depth. Like its more complicated than Animal Crossing but more linear than Harvest Moon, I'm not exactly sure how well the game could really appeal to kids but its a lot of fun and I feel like it could have been a real hit with the Nintendo audience. Likewise, Xbox Live Arcade has a wonderful selection of Nintendo fanboy friendly indie titles. I'm strongly tempted to pick up Braid, Bionic Commando Rearmed to that swanky downloadable version of the Dreamcast Soul Calibur.

Between playing through tons of demos and watching quite a few movie files I had on my harddrive, the Xbox 360 was totally worth it at $270 and if you factor in the price of component cables, its actually $15 cheaper than the Wii at the moment. While the Wii is a great choice for non-gamers, if you already have a nice HDTV and are fairly tech savvy I'd totally recommend taking a second look at the Xbox 360. As it currently stands, its a much better value than the Wii and it offers a much more sophisticated and polished experience for the price. While I still love my Wii quite a lot, in the meantime I'll stick to catching up on all the games I missed out on for the Xbox 360 and wait for the entire "casual" Wii game fad to pass and Nintendo to get back to making titles that require creativity and time to make and not just a marketing budget.

In defense of Beverly Hills Chihuahua

(note: this was a guest post I did on The Movie Watch a couple of weeks back now that I have another new post coming I figured this was the right time to post this.)

As long as I'm a new contributor on the Movie Watch, I might as well blow any reputation I might have in my first post. Ye
sterday I read that Ezra said that he'd rather watch the direct-to-DVD sequel to 101 Dalmatians. While I would not expect Beverly Hills Chihuahua to be the next Citizen Kane or anything after seeing the latest trailer it looks far from a throw away family film.

I'll admit it, I was as negative as everyone else when I saw the first poster for this movie. It didn't really show much besides for two chihuahuas, an Aztec temple and a large marquee bragging about the voice roles of George Lopez (ugh) and Drew Barrymore. Many felt it looked like the worst movie of the year, though with films like Meet Dave and The Love Guru (yes, I've seen them) I'd beg to differ. The second punch to this movie's face was the teaser that was attached to WALL-E. This teaser really said little what the movie was actually about and for 90% of the people in the audience it would be the only footage they'd see from the actual movie before its September release. For the seasoned movie viewer the teaser really had nothing to offer besides for poorly animated Chihuahua's playing the drums. With the inevitable pop-culture references as implied by an old DJ BOBO pop song blaring in the background with Chihuahua's singing and dancing behind it. This teaser made the offensive trailer for Madagascar seem tame. The fact that this movie also is helmed by the director of the live-action Scooby-Doo movies and Big Mamma's House didn't do much to win me over on this movie either.

However when I saw that new trailer that was posted by Disney up on YouTube more recently it was a very different movie than the gimmicky dreck I was expecting. The new trailer seemed more like Homeward Bound with a pretty inoffensive and subdued sense of humor. The trailer even did the miraculous job of putting the teaser into perspective making the little prologue about the Aztecs before the opening make a lot more sense. The trailer also had very little CGI apart from the obvious moving lips on the dogs whereas the teaser was completely 3D animated. The other surprise was that there were no pop-culture references in the full trailer either apart from that Scarface line but that's so deeply embedded into our culture I don't know if it even counts. In a world where the trailer for Madagascar Escape 2 Africa was getting an uproarious laugh in the movie theater this is a great thing. Sure, it had its share of lame jokes in the trailer but so do a lot of Disney movies. If you judged Enchanted by its trailer it would look pretty formulaic as well. Disney is concerned first and foremost with families and if showing a gang of chihuahuas playing the bongos was enough to get the kids excited, then it will ultimately be
a success.

The new trailer made me develop quite a soft spot for this movie. It reminded me a lot of the movies I've been forced to sit through in elementary school just to get the mangey kids quite for an hour or so. I had no clue at that time what the general fan consensus those movies had. In fact, a lot of the films I fondly remembered received terrible reviews, such as Mouse Hunt whereas Babe was nominated for an Academy Award and I had no idea at the time. I was crushed when I saw Roger Ebert's scathing review of Home Alone when they opened up their review archive to the internet. But at the same time I agreed with a lot of his criticism. He may have missed the point of a simple dumb family movie. Roger Ebert had a point in that it would have more emotional resonance if they showed Kevin as a vulnerable and defenseless kid in the face of criminals, but it would seem entirely out of place among the various slapstick gags that were to follow. If screenwriter John Hughes were to follow Ebert's advice he'd have to retool the film entirely for something that's already become a classic family movie in its current state.

To get things straight I'm still not going to go out of my way to see Beverly Hills Chihuahua, that is unless by some weird miracle it winds up getting a Fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes. However, this is definitely something I'd watch on a lazy sunday had it been on Disney Channel or something and in comparison to other non-Disney family dreck like Fly Me to the Moon and Space Chimps this movie's looking pretty promising for its fairly young audience. At the very least prints of Salvador Dali's short film Destino will be screened before all the prints of Beverly Hills Chihuahua, that's worth the price of admission alone or it could make a better stoner film than Pineapple Express, and that's saying a lot.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

have you seen Pineapple Express...on Speed (Racer)?

I've been anticipating Pineapple Express for a really long time, especially after I first saw the Red Band trailer in early 2008 with MIA's Paper Planes featured pretty prominently. I actually almost saw a test screening of this back in February. On my way back from an art history museum visit I hung out in Union Square for a bit and they were handing out free passes to see this the next day outside the movie theater. When I came back the next day for the screening they apparently moved the showing to some weird theater over in Queens and I was really too late to catch any of it. Since then I've watched the trailer a lot more times than I probably should have and imagined the movie to be more about two slackers who get forced into having a purpose who would normally not want one at all.

Did it live up to the hype or my mental image of it? Sort of. Pineapple Express was much like the Aqua Teen Hunger Force movie in that it had a lot of funny one-liners but nothing quotable enough to remain in the bowels of High School hallways or annoying people at frat parties. The film was a surprisingly violent mix between Hot Fuzz and Cheech & Chong with a bit of Judd Apatow's signature conversational improvised humor thrown in for good measure. While its not half as good as this year's other Judd Apatow produced comedy Forgetting Sarah Marshall it was certainly a funny movie. In comparison to the ultra low-standards of the stoner comedy genre this could have a place as one of the few drug comedy films that I could actually stand.

The reason why the bar is so low for drug movies is that stoners are incredibly easy to please. Pretty much if you show the main characters doing some illegal substance at ANY portion of the movie it would immediately get their seal of approval. I can imagine this film living on in the poster section of an FYE or something because just about every scene has the main characters on some drug or another and for that reason I'm sure it will become a cult druggie classic alongside the terribly overrated Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. My rule on stoner films applies to just about everything, while I could understand how stoners could like films that glorify marijuanna use like How High, the Tenacious D movie and the Harold and Kumar series (amoung others) many stoners also love Darren Aronofsky's Requiem for a Dream and that's about as strong as an anti-drug movie can get.

Pineapple Express strays from the typical stoner comedy formula by trying to add some heart to its various preaching to the choir related antics. This comes off as half-realized as in one scene you'd see Seth Rogen in tears over his crumbling relationship with his high school aged girlfriend (which was played off as a joke 9 out of 10 times) and in the next they'd have a fight scene which would amount to Spider-man's James Franco getting kicked in the crotch. While this works when it plays off of the buddy-action movie archetype it seems lost when they switch to their action movie satire elements.

Ultimately, Pineapple Express was decent but it has a few very apparent flaws that really hold it back from being a generation defining movie like Seth Rogen and Eric Goldberg's Superbad. As someone who doesn't do drugs and was not under the influence of any substance when watching this movie I found a lot of scenes to be pretty funny, which considering I'm not in the "audience" that this movie really panders to I guess that's the biggest compliment this film can get. If you're a fan of Judd Apatow this film is still worth a look, it's certainly watchable which puts it leagues above the abysmal Drillbit Taylor, just don't go in expecting a cinematic revolution or anything.


Here's a quick run-down of some of the other movies I watched between now and my last blog post...

Hot Rod - I know this film ultimately was a huge failure in both the box office and with critics alike but I always kind of wanted to see this ever since I saw the trailer for it before Transformers. While it didn't look like high art or anything it looked like it had a few funny parts and it had Arrested Development's Will Arnett in there who's proving himself to be a bigger tool than Jason Bateman. This was originally written to be a Will Ferrel and despite not having any of the same writers as your standard Will Ferrel "sports movie" it definitely had the same sense of humor with our protagonist never successfully completing a stunt throughout the entire film. While it was not perfect and I found the movie perhaps a little too silly for its own good, it definitely wasn't nearly as bad as I was expecting and was totally worth the 90 minutes or so I spent watching this when I downloaded it off of Veoh.


A Tale of Two Sisters - After seeing DVDs of this film included as a giveaway before a screening of Tokyo Gore Police at the New York Asian Film Festival I've been extremely interested in seeing this Korean horror flick. Like most successful Asian horror films, this one is getting an Americanized remake in early 2009 and I'm pretty sure the remakes will be more along the lines of The Grudge and The Host than the Ring. What really holds this film together is the terrific performances given by each of the members of the cast which really sold its ghost story premise to me. The scares here are mostly psychological and its commendable for how little gore there is in this movie with it being used to accentuate the scares as opposed to just grossing the audience out.


Be Kind Rewind - This is one I really wish I saw in theaters, while the actual "sweding" part of this movie was pretty miniscule in relation to the trailer the film here itself was good enough where it didn't really seem to matter. Be Kind Rewind had a great and quirky cast of characters but it still felt incredibly genuine taking place in only one city block. I'm not really a big fan of Michel Gondry but I kind of loved the very light brand of comedy in play where by the ending the movie gets very sentimental and all the humor kind of fades away into obscurity.


Drillbit Taylor - Had this not already been written by Seth Rogen and Judd Apatow I'd deem this as a PG13 watered down imitation of Superbad, the only difference being this one has Owen Wilson playing a body guard of sorts. While I do believe a lot of the awkwardness that made Superbad funny could be re-imagined in the form of a PG13 or made-for-TV movie the problem with this one is that it was still trying to be edgy while holding back from stepping on the few land mines that would guarantee an R-rating. While this was not completely terrible the main cast of kids felt kind of bratty and the bullies were portrayed with about as much depth as an episode of Doug. Owen Wilson was still very funny in this but he really didn't get too much screen time, it felt like they were really just using him to shoehorn ticket sales for an otherwise bland high school comedy film.


Tenacious D in The Pick of Destiny - Dear god! If it weren't for the film's occasional catchy musical interludes, I'd be strongly tempted to give this a half a star. While theoretically I'd like this movie it felt more sloppy than it was surreal and it tried just a little too hard to be non-sensical. You'd be better off just listening to a Tenacious D album instead, they're a lot funnier.


Speed Racer - This was another one that I found the test screener of randomly uploaded onto Vreel. I was in the minority of people who actually was supportive of this movie since the trailer first emerged on the internet. The Wachowski brothers seemed to be making an adaptation of the English dubbed version of the TV series as opposed to a darker re-imagining of it. The real problem with the movie came with the length of the movie, clocking in at 2 and a half hours with most it that being dialogue. Had it been an hour shorter, it would be a lot easier to forgive the film for its flaws and praise it for its awesome race scenes but in the meantime it's simply not worth seeing. Maybe if you could rent it on DVD and skip to all the racing scenes it would be worth it but only if you pay less than a few dollars for it.


Saturday, August 2, 2008

The Animation Show 4 rundown

I've always wanted to see the Animation Show but it was typically too far away for me to ever really have a chance to see it, I caught it on MTV2 once at 2 am and I thought it was pretty neat. This year my local Avon Theatre had a screening of the show tucked away in their Cult Films series for August, I'm typically not a big fan of the place for their overly pretentious attitude, high prices and simply not knowing enough about film to really warrant such an attitude but I figured its better than dropping the $18.50 and two hours of my time to go to New York to see it.

As a huge fan of both Mike Judge and Don Hertzfeldt I was hoping they'd have more of an influence on the films screened there (both of which surprisingly did not have any films in this year's Animation Show). Its not like Don didn't have any new films in his queue, because he did and it was absolutely fantastic. I don't know why they didn't just top off the show with his short film Everything Will Be OK. I saw it at an ASIFA screening at Pratt and it was easily his deepest film yet if they couldn't fit it in the show's lean 90 minute run time they could have EASILY taken out some of the weaker shorts in the festival.

This year's festival was totally worth seeing but not all the shorts were a home run or anything. Luckily, the bad ones were forgettable enough where you couldn't hold it against the festival and were equally weighted out by some good shorts. Its obvious that they held off their heavy hitters like Bill Plympton until the end, they ended it with a fairly lengthy 3D animated short commissioned by the festival which was pretty cool considering it was from some fairly unknown Polish Animators.

The first real surprise was Angry Unpaid Hooker this crudely animated short didn't really have more than a few drawings in the entire piece but that was what made it all the more endearing. It reminded me a lot of UPN and later Adult Swim's mildly successful series Home Movies where a long string of improvised and frank uncomfortable dialogue made the short funny in the most deadpan sort of the variety (here's a link to the short off of someone's blog). PES's Western Spaghetti was also very good much like his other stop motion short films but its one of those things that I've already seen on YouTube though it was a lot cooler to seen on a theater screen without questionable compression. This Way Up was one of the few CG entries in the Animation Show that I actually liked, there were parts that reminded me a bit of the land of the dead moments of Corpse Bride but overall I was won over by its morbid sense of humor and level of exaggeration that you rarely see in 3D animated shorts. My other favorites included the noire comedy short Key Lime Pie, Bill Plympton's Hot Dog short and the incredibly artsy and meticulously crafted Jeu from the National Film Board of Canada.

Likewise, I found a few of the shorts just offensively bad. The first of which Mr. Schwartz, Mr. Hazen & Mr. Horlocker was probably selected for its blend of 3D animation and 2D both of which I felt were kind of lacking, the animation was a little too limited for my tastes especially when up against the smooth frame rate of the computer generated backgrounds, this one was really just tailored for druggies and I didn't really find much artistic value in it maybe if it was a bit shorter. A series of Yompi the Crotch-Biting Sloup stop-motion short films were also sprinkled throughout the show and unless you find the title as the highest level of humor, you won't really get too much out of it. Lastly the French Prof. Nieto Show Ep 1 didn't really feature too much animation in it at the end of the day and really just came off as more prentious than it did funny for me. The rest of the short films were all in the "okay" category with Psychotown,
Operator and Blind Spot providing a laugh here and there.

Ultimately the Animation Show had enough solid short films for me to warrant a recommendation and I'll see it again next year if they'd bring it back to Stamford. My theater was only about a third full and compared to the immense lines at New York City's IFC Center I doubt The Avon Theatre would really be a high priority for them. While I don't think I'd spend hours of my time to see it nor would really go out of my way to buy the DVDs from past festivals, it was enough fun with a crowd of people to have a good time.

I also saw a few of my classmates from high school there randomly at the screening. That was kind of rad.