There are movie theaters...and then there are Cinepolis theaters.
The luxury, Califonia-based theater chain is raising the bar when it comes to premium moviegoing experiences, and since HIH is no stranger to a good time at the movies - we watched 82 films on the big screen last year - it was about time we checked out this place and got in on some of its amenities.
The at-your-seat waiter service is just as indulgent as it sounds. Having ordered some seasoned edamame, truffle fries and portobello sliders for lunch in the lobby, we were able to have our leftovers brought directly to our theater seats. Still eyeing something from the menu? Don't worry, you'll have time to order more (read further).
If you're feeling a little adventurous with your popcorn options, move past the usual butter and try their caramel flavor...or spicy chili, imported from Mexico, where Cinépolis is headquartered. Additionally, they offer black and white chocolate-covered gourmet popcorn and a full coffee bar where guests can order anything from cappuccinos to affogatos (take that, Starbucks).
And as summer draws to a close, we wanted to make sure to sample the theater's signature seasonal cocktails before the fall menu kicked in. Our pick: The "Evolution" (pictured above, middle), "inspired by" July's Dawn of the Planet of the Apes. Mixing Chambord vodka, creme de banana, Zico coconut water, and pineapple juice, this concoction is as light and refreshing as any drink found at a tropical resort (The strawberry basil mix in "The Transformer" is just as irresistible).
But if you're of a traditionalist, feel free to take advantage of the theater's full-service bar.
Craving some red velvet cake in the middle of Guardians of the Galaxy? Just press the button next to your reclining leather seat, and your server will bring it to you along with some silverware. They're extra discreet and will make sure not to bother anyone during your movie.
One would expect a theater like this to be located right in the heart of Hollywood, but Angelenos will have to take a 40-minute drive to Westlake Village in order to get their fill of these luxurious amenities (the next-to-nearest location is roughly 60 miles south in Rancho Santa Margarita).
Naturally, there are plans to expand later this winter (Florida, keep an eye out for a Cinepolis in your southern and central regions).
Visit cinepolisusa.com to learn more, find your nearest location, and get some tickets.
Joseph Gordon-Levitt enjoyed an unexpected reunion on the set of this month's Sin City: A Dame to Kill For.
During one bone-crackling moment in the film that will surely get fanboys (and hardcore Disney fans) super psyched, Gordon-Levitt's character, Johnny, gets some nasty wounds tended to by a junkie doctor played by...Christopher Lloyd, his costar from 1994's Angels in the Outfield.
"I love getting to see Christopher Lloyd do something dark," Gordon-Levitt says during the film's press conference in Beverly Hills. "And you couldn't really ask for a movie that was more diametrically opposed than Angels in the Outfield." The 20-year reunion was, as he puts it, "perfect." And he savored every moment with the actor. "It's like, 'Wow, this is Doc Brown,'" he says, referring to Lloyd's indelible role in the Back to the Future trilogy. "We should be talking about 1.2 gigawatts, but it's really cool because he's actually a really strong actor. He can do a lot of different things. Applying that energy he brings to a character...and putting it in this really dark flavor of a Frank Miller world is really entertaining."
Nine years after making a bloody splash on the big screen, Frank Miller and co-director Robert Rodiguez are inviting audiences to return to the crime-ridden streets of the titular metropolis for more tales of betrayal, bloodshed, and good old-fashioned revenge. With a cast that includes Mickey Rourke, Jessica Alba (a returning alum), Josh Brolin, Ava Green (in one hell of a role), Powers Booth, and Rosario Dawson, the sequel to the graphic novel adaptation is packing a bigger wallop this time around. Four distinct "chapters" explore the dark paths on which Sin City's iconic denizens travel.
Gordon-Levitt's chapter, entitled "A Long, Bad Night," centers on Johnny, a new Sin City character Miller wrote specifically for the film. "The character of Johnny was written in the script but there weren't any drawings," says Gordon-Levitt, "so it didn't have as much specificity. It's an actor's dream to be working with filmmakers who are so collaborative, so open an eager to incorporate my creative contributions into the movie."
Arriving in a vintage Corvette and dressed to the nines, Johnny, a fearless gambler, enters a dangerous world when he hits the jackpot and maneuvers his way into a deadly poker game opposite a corrupt senator (played by Booth). Gordon-Levitt couldn't have been happier to be a part of the stylish adaptation.
"I love that it embraces the fact that this is not reality," he says. "This is a heightened and stylized comic, almost a portrayal of a world that came out of the mind of Frank Miller. As an actor, that really frees you up because you are not just tethered to Would this happen in reality?"
What drew him to the script? Simple: "The thing that I liked most on the page about my character was on the very cover of the script where it said Frank Miller and Robert Rodriguez. I remember when the first one came out, going to the movie theater, and saying to myself, I've never seen anything like this. It's somewhere between a cartoon and a live-action movie."
"Joseph, like the best actors, teaches the director and writer a lot with the performance and interpretation they they give events," Miller says of the actor. "Because of what he brought, I was able to write dialogue I thought was much more focused, stronger and more emotional."
Sin City: A Dame To Kill For is now playing in theaters.
Actress-writer Tara Karsian is jokingly attempting to get a reaction out of her costar (and real-life BFF) Andrea Grano as she pulls up a chair to join our conversation on a Monday night in the middle of the lobby of the Directors Guild of America on Sunset Boulevard. It's one of many instances in which the two actresses display their charismatic banter and knack for playfully prodding each other.
Outfest, LA's long-running LBGT film festival, has just begun, yet the stars/writers of BFFs are already experiencing film festival fatigue. Having finished a whirlwind press tour with the film, the women are doing their best to find some peace and quiet amidst the chaos. "We're so tired" seems to be a common phrase they've been uttering to themselves all week.
BFFs takes a hilarious and heartwarming snaphot of what happens when two straight best friends, the just-broken-up Kat (Karsian) and serial dater Samantha (Grano), pretend to be lesbians in order to take advantage of a free couples weekend workshop. If it sounds a tad similar to a certain MTV hit series (Faking It), think again. Instead of focusing on the fickle (and fluid) preferences of youth, BFFs carefully blurs the lines of friendship and addresses the basic, human desires between women of a certain age.
“We talked a lot about this," Karsian recalls, "that if this were made with two 25-year-olds, with the exact same script, it’d be a totally different film…But I do think when women our age – if there was a questioning – probably the most likely character to question would be your best friend. Someone you’re, for lack of a better term, intimate with – because friendships are intimate. Sometimes you’re more intimate with your friends than you are with the person you’re with because you talk about things like that, and you don’t have to walk on eggshells.”
Just like any independent production, it was a long and arduous uphill climb to get the film made. "We had a lot of line producers say, 'Don't even bother,'" remembers Grano, referring to the budgets they had to formulate to fit the story. There were also the requisite setbacks...like that time they lost their Malibu location for a day due to a mix-up with the vacation rental office they used to find their dream house for the couples workshop sessions. "Andrea had a total 12-year old meltdown," Karsian recalls.
The supporting cast of 'BFFs'
Another setback: uncooperative eyelashes.
Karsian recalls the very first scene on the very first day of shooting: “There was so much glue on my false eyelashes, that literally it [blinking] was like slo-mo,” Tara says. “I had drag queen lashes on.”
“We pissed ourselves laughing,” Grano chuckles.
“It was horrible…these motherfuckers were so long, and they put so much glue…”
“But the one that kept sticking…"
“The costume assistant didn’t know that she needed to cut the drag queen lashes, so this mother, which weighed five pounds – when I would blink, her hair would blow. That’s how big they were.”
“It’s true,” Andrea says, stifling another laugh.
With over two decades of film and TV experience between them, Grano and Karsian, as producers, prided themselves on making sure things ran smoothly for their cast and crew. "We never went over 12 hours. We really wanted our crew to be treated well," Grano says.
And when things wouldn't go according to plan, the women avoided playing the roles of Good Producer/Bad Producer by creating "Alice," an imaginary, tough-as-nails co-producer who could take all the flack. Got a problem with craft services? Take it up with Alice. Don't like the shooting schedule? Complain to Alice. I soon volunteer to help on their next project and pose as Alice's assistant, and we immediately come up with a grand scheme.
Karsian looks at Grano and says, “We’d have to give him a really fabulous name though.”
“He already has one.”
The conversation continues to go off on tangents like this, and since there are no publicists hovering over us with time limits -- rarely the case during interviews -- the three of us go with the proverbial flow, shifting the talk to Gone Girl (my paperback peeks out of my bag, and I urge them to read it before the movie comes out) and their experience with raising funds on Indiegogo. "It was horrible," Grano says, "but at the end of the day, we raised exactly that number and did it for exactly that number. It was voodoo witch stuff…Maybe I’m a powerful witch woman too-"
“You’re not,” Karsian cuts in.
When Andrea Met Tara: The two actresses crossed paths when Tara needed an actor for a play she was directing. A mutual friend recommended Andrea. Cut to: 11 years later, and they’re filmmaking partners and actual BFFs.
Soon director Andrew Putschoegl drops by, and the conversation switches back to movies, particularly of the horror genre. Grano, a fan, admits to never seeing Sleepaway Camp, and I avoid spoiling the surprise ending for her.
But back to the film...Would BFFs work with two straight guys? Or would it be something completely different?
Grano: “I have a lot of straight friends from a small town who believe that if you kissed a guy, you’re gay. Whereas a woman can kiss a woman, and it can be experimental, it can be questioning. I think there’s a mentality in society that…I think you can be bisexual if you’re a man, and people accept that, but secretly, a lot of guys who don’t know a lot of gay or bisexual people believe you’re really not bisexual. So it’d be harder to believe that a man, especially one who’s not 18 and in college, could be questioning like that. I think that’s societal.”
Karsian: “Men’s friendships are different. I’m not saying they’re any less important, but I do think it’s a very different thing. I think women’s friendships, especially when you get older, leans away from superficiality. You cut out the bullshit."
Putschoegl remembers a conversation he had with a well-known film distributor: “The guy who took a look at the trailer watched the movie and said, ‘Oh, it’s a great concept. But there are no big stars. We can’t sell it…but, if you recast it with men and cast it up – like, get a Hugh Jackman in there or someone – try that, do a sequel.”
“It’s a totally different movie with men," Grano reacts. "And you know what he’s saying basically -- and this is another problem with our industry -- that men are more bankable. Because why didn’t he say ‘Do it with Sandra Bullock and Drew Barrymore?’ Then I can say, ‘Okay, I get it. They’re an easier sell than us.’”
But if the basic concept were to remain intact with two female household names, I ask, would the movie be altered for a more general audience?
“They would try to do another I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry," assumes Putschoegl, referring to the Adam Sandler-Kevin James comedy from 2007. "And that’s not what this movie and this story could ever be.”
“It would have to be like they were bamboozled into thinking they had an attraction," Grano chimes in.
When the two women initially showed their script around, they were told to sell it. But they were wary of placing the material in the hands of those who could compromise the film's inherent message, its essence. Hence why they took on the enormous responsiblity of bringing it to life themselves.
“The friendship Andrea and I have, I think two actresses could definitely act in these roles," Karsian muses, "but they’re not going to have the built-in history…I mean, I just watched a film about two best friends, and it was very obvious to me that they were two actresses.”
“No matter how good the acting was, you could just tell," Grano adds.
“I don’t know if you noticed this, but we bicker a lot. We banter."
Gotta hand it to KP. The girl can still throw a fun music video party.
Her fifth single from Prism, "This Is How We Do" (thankfully, no relation to Montell Jordan's 1995 jam) gets a colorful treatment (thanks to director Joel Kefali) and comes loaded with backup dancers dressed up like Pee-Wee Herman, animated pizza, and a deconstructed Maserati (among other gloriously random items).
Greg Nicotero, the man behind all of those gruesome zombie transformations on AMC'sThe Walking Dead, was on deck at Comic-Con over the weekend to give a live special-effects demonstration in front of a crowd of fans inside the Petco Interactive Park. Some lucky guests were even treated to a gory makeover on stage...including yours truly.
With the help of Courtyard Marriott Hotels, who hosted the festivities with their Mobile Pod Experience, I got a chance to sit in a make-up chair and be transformed into a decaying Walker, courtesy of LA-based artist Greg Solomon, who just wrapped on Insurgent, the sequel this year's dystopian saga Divergent.
"We're just helping people enjoy their time and their experience," said Nina Herrera-Davila, Director of Public Relations for the Maryland-based hotel group. "And with Comic-Con, what better way than to help people take cosplay to the next level!"
Speaking of cosplay, The Walking Dead's very own Norman Reedus also showed up to judge a contest in which a king and queen were crowned and given the opportunity to meet Game of Thones author George R.R. Martin.
With this being her first Comic-Con, Herrera-Davila also told me that she was "wide-eyed and extremely excited" to be amidst the chaos. (She also happens to be a proud Game of Thrones fangirl: "I am Khaleesi at heart, Mother of Dragons!")
"Courtyard is a hotel brand, so you wouldn't imagine they'd be out at something like this," she later admitted while I did my best to keep my head still as fake blood began to trickle from my nose.
"But I have a feeling we may be coming back."
Look out for the Courtyard Marriot pod experience to appear at the NFL kickoff in Seattle this September.
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