Friday, May 8, 2015

Avoid Julia Roberts This Mother's Day With These Picks!

Mother's Day is fast approaching, and one great way to spend time with the person who brought you into the world is to bond with them over a movie.  However, Mother's Day fare is usually quite sappy and formulaic--one glance at the usual "Best Movies For Mother's Day" lists that most online sites compile reveals the same mix of Steel Magnolias, Stepmom, Terms Of Endearment, Beaches, and Erin Brokovich shuffled ad nauseum.  But seriously, do we really think that our moms want to watch a Julia Roberts film on Mother's Day? I don't know about yours, but my mother would rather be watching The Song Remains The Same--give our parents some credit, they're not all that different from the rest of us.  With that in mind, the following list attempts to compile a list of films that have all the usual Mother's Day themes--and may still indulge in a little feel-good melodrama here and there--but which the rest of us can stomach as well.  Enjoy!



1. FREAKY FRIDAY, 1976: in the same year that Jodie Foster made her dramatic breakthrough in Taxi Driver, she starred in this delightful Disney comedy that explored what would happen if a mother and daughter magically traded places for one day.  No tearjerker melodrama here, just a healthy dose of retro-70s fun.  An equally amusing (and popular) remake in 2004 with Lindsay Lohan and Jamie Lee Curtis proved that the idea is timeless; if the original is too old, you can always opt for the newer version.  



2. MRS.DOUBTFIRE, 1993: One of the late Robin Williams' greatest screen performances, Mrs.Doubtfire's gag-filled humor explores what it truly means to be a mother, without ever becoming preachy or didactic.  Williams is on fire, as each scene of him in granny drag attempts to top the next.  Like Freaky Friday this is also another film that the whole family can enjoy, making it perfect for extended gatherings.  



3. MILDRED PIERCE, 1945: Joan Crawford may not have been the greatest real-life mom (Mommie Dearest is a left-field cult classic that's perfect if you're looking to make everyone in your home theater squirm!), but in this film she milks the portrayal of a mother who spoils her older daughter rotten, in order to compensate for the sudden death of her younger daughter.  Sure, there's melodrama, but this is old time Hollywood melodrama with all of its attendant grandiosity, not cookie-cutter Cameron Diaz fare.  



4. CHANGELING, 2008: Clint Eastwood lent a gritty, realistic touch to this tale (based on a true-life incident) of a mother whose son disappears. He is found, but she is now convinced the boy isn't him and fights to find her real son.  Angelina Jolie gives one of her finest performances, filling her character with a steely determination, as the film becomes a complex and harrowing indictment of male chauvinism, creepy insane asylums, and political corruption; Changeling is a heavy choice for Mother's Day but is so exceptionally made, and showcases the inner strength of its mother so vividly, that it's a perfect choice.



5. MOTHER, 2009: similar in tone to Changeling but with a very (very) different plot twist, this acclaimed South Korean film follows the determination of one mother to prove her son innocent of murder charges.  What she learns along the way--and how she handles the situation--moves into some pretty dark territory, but anyone looking for a gripping and surprising film with a brilliant performance by its lead, can do no better.  Because the bottom line is, our mothers don't always go for the cheesy sap: they want to see a well directed, well-acted, creative movie the same as the rest of us.  Don't insult their intelligence by sticking Steel Magnolias into the player yet again this Mother's Day!  Otherwise, your mother may end up doing this: 



At 4seating.com, we have the largest selection of in-stock and ready-to-ship home theater seating and home theater furniture available! We offer theater seating and design solutions for both the casual and professional home theater enthusiast.  We also have a complete line of custom home theater decor available.

Friday, April 24, 2015

USB Power Recline Seats

Home theater seats have come a long way in the past decade, taking in new innovations that have dramatically increased the range of options available for home entertainment.  A seat is no longer just a seat: now it's an all-in-one package with hi-tech features that were unheard of until recently. Besides lighted cup holders and ambient base lighting, seats can now be equipped with power adjustable headrests, refreshment consoles that act like mini-bars, drop-down tables with overhead lighting, and more.



One of the most important new developments in home theater seating over the past few years has been the introduction of USB charging stations, usually situated next to the seat's power recline button. At the same spot where you can instantly change recline positions at will, is a place for the charging of cell phones, laptops, and tablets, which puts a virtually limitless range of entertainment options at your fingertips.  With the power of the internet at your side, you can browse directly through your devices, or hook them up to your big screen.  Netflix, Youtube, gaming sites--it's all at your fingertips, and with a USB port you don't even have to get up to re-charge any device; everything you need is located right by your side.



The full list of seats on 4seating that offer USB power recline options can be found here.  Among them, The Horizon is a theater seat which comes with the added benefit of a five-stage adjustable headrest, which helps to relieve neck and shoulder strain.  The seat's clean, streamlined design features curved armrests with hidden cup holders, for an ultra-contemporary look that matches beautifully with its USB feature.



The Grenada is a deluxe seat in the Seatcraft Signature line that comes in grade 7000 leather, which is handpicked from the top third of all hides for a lustrous sheen and superior texture.  Bucket seating and a generously padded headrest exude comfort, while free tray tables provide a space for snacks, remotes, reading materials--or devices like cell phones and laptops, that can be charged in its convenient USB port!  The Madera is a similarly luxurious seat, with its grade 7000 leather construction, tray tables, and USB power recline switch, and an elegant design that includes beautiful wood-inlayed armrests.



The Columbia from Barcalounger is a USB power recline seat that boasts a layering of  "cool gel" foam which helps to maintain the seat at a comfortable temperature, along with adjustable power headrests and included tray tables. This seat is constructed from leather gel, a new material that replicates the look, feel, and benefits of leather at an exceptional value.  The Barcalounger Eclipse also comes in leather gel, with the included USB power recline switch.  Barcalounger seats are renowned in the industry for their superior craftsmanship and state-of-the-art designs.

Taken collectively, these seats represent the future of home theater seating, where innovation, comfort and excellence combine to meet every conceivable home theater need.

At 4seating.com, we have the largest selection of in-stock and ready-to-ship home theater seating and home theater furniture available! We offer theater seating and design solutions for both the casual and professional home theater enthusiast.  We also have a complete line of custom home theater decor available.


Friday, April 3, 2015

Tips For Setting Up Your Home Theater

Once you have decided to take the plunge and build your own home theater, the immediate challenge is furniture setup.  Before the fun of adding decor options begins, you need to know where everything should be placed, for optimal visual and audio efficiency.  Even a small mistake in setting up screen, chair, or sound system placement can result in an awkward theater experience.  Use these tips to help you with a set up that will optimize your theater's potential:



1) THE SCREEN: before you choose which chairs to purchase for your home theater, you need to begin with choosing a screen, and that screen's placement in your theater.  Why?  Because the kind of screen you choose, will determine how far away you want your chairs to be placed.  Different TV screens come with different aspect ratios (ratio of height to width), which have a completely different effect on the viewer.  For further help in determining which screen type is best for your needs, see our earlier blog on this topic.  Once that is done, you will want to move on to the next component of your entertainment center:

2) THE AUDIO: Whether you choose a sound bar, stereo speakers, or a surround sound system for your home theater, make sure you choose the audio setup that fits your needs.  Sound bars take up little space and have become quite popular, but nothing beats a full surround system for true audiophiles. If you choose the surround option, however, be sure and spend time figuring out where to best place each speaker to achieve the optimum surround effect; you will want to coordinate their placement with where the seats will be placed (and for that, you need to know what type of screen you will be using).  If you choose stereo speaker towers, make sure to reserve enough space, and make sure that their larger size will blend into your planned theater decor. For further assistance on which audio setup to use, look here.  



3) THE SEATS: Choosing the right home theater seat will depend on which materials, design, and features you're looking for.  Families with children or pets may want a chair constructed with low maintenance materials, that is easy to clean.  Those looking to spend time with a loved one will want a loveseat configuration, or an optional wine class caddy accessory. Want to add an authentic lounge experience, with mini-bar capabilities?  Try the Madison refreshment console sofa.  Meanwhile, those looking to optimize the range of entertainment possibilities at their fingertips will be looking for a seat with a tablet holder or USB ports.  4seating offers home theater seats in a wide array of material, color, design, and feature combinations that make the choice easier; the Liberty or Baron are two outstanding seats which come equipped with a USB port by the power switch.  

Those looking to optimize space in their home theater can take advantage of a special "wall-hugger" design which allows most chairs to be placed just three inches from any wall, even in full recline. Other home theater seats come with space-saving armrests, but even with these handy features, make sure that the theater is not cramped. You do not want a row of seats too close to the wall or right in the center of room, as neither option allows for optimal acoustics.  Experiment with the placing of your seating, to find out which placement will allow you to enjoy the sound from your home entertainment system to the fullest, and coordinate with the placement of the speakers.  Also, the actual arrangement of the seats must be carefully considered, whether you choose straight or curved, loveseat or sofa configurations.   Finally, make sure that whatever home theater seating you choose is a comfortable fit for any children; to that end, the Bebe is a special chair from Seatcraft which was specifically designed for a child's smaller frame.  


There are other things to consider as you plan: how to minimize a complicated wire setup (especially with regards to surround systems); where to place wall accents, columns, screen frames, and curtains; and whether to choose back row seating or seat risers, for multiple row configurations. For these considerations, a glance at our earlier article on home theater decor will help you decide which decor strategies can work for your individual needs.  Whichever way you end up choosing however, carefully consider the available options and have fun crafting your own perfect family home theater!

At 4seating.com, we have the largest selection of in-stock and ready-to-ship home theater seating and home theater furniture available! We offer theater seating and design solutions for both the casual and professional home theater enthusiast.  We also have a complete line of custom home theater decor available.

Monday, February 23, 2015

The Political Oscars

There's no way of getting around it: every year, the Oscars are guaranteed to be a monstrously long 4-hour affair (and that's not even counting the red carpet coverage).   Most of us only care about the biggest awards, and yet have to wade through painful opening segments by the host, cheesy musical performances, endless montages and tributes, and awards for categories like sound mixing and "short form animated feature".  And yet, many of us watch anyways, because the spectacle is like no other during awards season: it's bigger, fancier, more expensive, and more bombastic than any other, the height of Hollywood excess--and yet the idea of a 'humble' Oscars is simply out of the question.  This year, however, there seemed to be a new common thread to the show and that was a marked, almost militant political bent where every celebrity seemed to be promoting a pet cause.



The tone was set in the first two minutes of broadcast, as host Neil Patrick Harris--normally a safe bet for inoffensive humor and spectacular song-and-dance numbers--joked that the show would highlight Hollywood's "best and whitest...I mean brightest", a clear reference to the shutout of minorities from the best actor and actress categories this year.  Even in the spectacular song-and-dance number that followed, Jack Black stole the show in a hilarious interruption that savaged Hollywood's reliance on formula superhero films and greedy corporate mentality.



The show then settled from there into its usual mind-numbing routine, but little moments of social and political activism kept popping up--and sometimes in surprising ways.  Patricia Arquette's acceptance speech after her win for best supporting actress ended with a passionate plea for women's rights and equal gender pay, which had luminaries like Meryl Streep on their feet cheering.  Best actor winner Eddie Redmayne used his win to highlight sufferers of ALS, the motor-neuron affliction that Stephen Hawking (the man he portrayed in The Theory Of Everything) carries.  When Laura Poitras and Glenn Greenwald took the stage for their win in the best documentary category, their speech praised the controversial NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, who was the subject of Poitras' stunning Citizenfour.



One of the most touching speeches of the evening was given by best adapted screenplay winner Graham Moore, who recounted his own suicide attempt at age 16 as a means of highlighting awareness of the issue.  Even the best song category wasn't immune, as John Legend and Common's everything-including-the-kitchen-sink performance of "Glory" from the film Selma referenced civil rights flashpoints from Selma to Ferguson and earned them a standing ovation.  In his acceptance speech, Legend noted that more black men are incarcerated in prison today than were enslaved in 1850 (this was fact-checked to be true, by the way).  Finally, best director and film winner Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu spoke about the immigration issue that his fellow Mexicans face in the United States.  And if all of that socio-political grandstanding seemed too heavy for the average viewer merely tuning in for some light entertainment, we did get to see what was perhaps the first-ever thank you given to a winner's dog in one speech!



As for the winners themselves, the best actor and actress categories were a virtual lock, as Eddie Redmayne and Julianne Moore had swept all other award shows this season.  The best picture, director, and screenplay categories were unsettled, however, with Birdman and Boyhood generally seen as the two films battling it out this year.  In the end, Boyhood (which had been a clear winner at the Golden Globes) was shut out in all but the supporting actress category, while Birdman took home a clean sweep of the screenplay, director, and picture awards.  The film is also one of the rare comedies to win the Oscar for Best Picture, perhaps reminding us that even on a night as seemingly serious and packed with issues as this one, it was humor that reigned supreme.  

PS Let's not even talk about John Travolta's creepiness, OK....?

At 4seating.com, we have the largest selection of in-stock and ready-to-ship home theater seating and home theater furniture available! We offer theater seating and design solutions for both the casual and professional home theater enthusiast.  We also have a complete line of custom home theater decor available.

Monday, February 16, 2015

SNL's Big Night

Saturday Night Live's much-hyped 40th anniversary special hadn't even reached the halfway mark of its mammoth 3 1/2 hour running time, when the internet blogs, live tweets, and Yahoo! news articles began their commentary.  Betty White kisses Bradley Cooper!  Kanye West sings from the floor! And Eddie Murphy--WTF?!



The television extravaganza had more star-power packed into its running time than three Oscars combined, with over 100 big names--all cast members, hosts, or musical guests who had been on the program--sitting in the audience, watching as their fellow stars congratulated themselves for contributing to the longest-running and most successful comedy institution in American TV history. SNL has become such a benchmark for our culture--it is literally the axis upon which our pop culture has spun for the past four decades--that even amidst its excessive bloat, the special made for compelling viewing.  



Of special interest to most of the commentators was a rundown on who sparked laughs and who bombed spectacularly: Will Ferrell and Darryl Hammond got props for their reprise of Celebrity Jeopardy; Bill Murray struck gold in character as 70s lounge singer Nick Ocean discovering the long-lost lyrics to the Jaws theme; the 93-year old Betty White rescued a below-average Californians sketch by locking lips in a passionate make-out session with Hollywood hunk du jour Bradley Cooper; Eddie Murphy's eagerly anticipated appearance amounted to a mere 73 seconds of screen time, in which the comedian looked like he wished he was anywhere else; and Jerry Seinfeld fielded both hilarious and awkward questions from some of the big names in the audience.  This author's personal favorite sketch was a reprise of the Wayne's World cable access show, which featured a running gag referencing Kanye West's hubris at the Grammys the week prior.  



The musical guests also included Kanye, who doubled down on his megalomania by preferring to rap while lying on his back, a move predictably hailed by Rolling Stone the next day as performance-art "genius".  Miley Cyrus performed an adequate if low-key cover of Paul Simon's "50 Ways To Leave Your Lover", but at least decided to keep her outfit semi-tasteful and her tongue in her mouth.  Paul McCartney, winded from a nearly three-hour concert in front of invited guests the night before, massacred his classic "Maybe I'm Amazed" with a labored, cracked vocal.  Finally, Paul Simon closed the proceedings with an appropriate if overly-sentimental "Still Crazy After All These Years"; unfortunately it seems as if the septuagenarian rocker is also losing his voice.  



While great musical guests have always been a bedrock of SNL's legend, the subpar performances last night could have been easily discarded in favor of highlighting more sketches and characters from the program's rich and varied history.  If there was one overriding impression from the event, it was that too much was being crammed into a 3 1/2 hour time slot that still seemed too short; classic characters like King Tut, Debbie Downer, and Matt Foley were relegated to 30-second cameos, barely enough to register a brief laugh of recognition before moving on to the next one in the grind. While it was fun seeing every generation of SNL performers--from Chevy Chase to Cecily Strong--sharing the stage together, there just wasn't enough time to showcase anyone adequately.  This was made acute during the special's Weekend Update segment, which lasted barely six minutes in spite of featuring a killer anchor lineup of Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, and Jane Curtin.  

The verdict: the highs and lows, gaffes and surprises, bombs and triumphs of the special very much mirrored a typical SNL episode--which at least somehow seems appropriate.  

At 4seating.com, we have the largest selection of in-stock and ready-to-ship home theater seating and home theater furniture available! We offer theater seating and design solutions for both the casual and professional home theater enthusiast.  We also have a complete line of custom home theater decor available.