Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Hollywood Award Season Is Here!

Last weekend's Golden Globes broadcast was the official start to the Hollywood awards season, which will go through a number of more obscure critic's circle award events, before climaxing with the Oscars (usually late February or early March).  The Golden Globes are often seen as a good predictor of who will win at the Oscars, despite the fact that only four of the last ten Golden Globe winners for best drama film, ended up also claiming best picture at the Oscars.  The Golden Globes tend to be seen as Oscar's looser, drunker cousin, a tad more risque (anyone remember Ricky Gervais' recent stints as host?), but also thankfully devoid of the song-and-dance spectacle that usually drags the Oscar telecast down (the Oscars last between 3-4 hours; by contrast, the Golden Globes is a much more digestible two hours).



This year's Golden Globes telecast came just days after the horrific attack on the offices of Charlie Hebdo in Paris, and the unprecedented global outpouring of support toward the French people.  The mass demonstration supporting Hebdo and the right to freedom of speech--attended by dozens of world leaders, although the United States was conspicuously absent from the proceedings--came just weeks after a very similar flap over the right to free expression attended the hacking incident surrounding the premiere of "The Interview".  The two events galvanized American opinion regarding the right of journalists, cartoonists, comedians, satirists, and filmmakers to say whatever they wanted, without the fear of reprisal.



So it was perhaps ironic that the Globes telecast was accompanied by several risque jokes which were considered offensive and over-the-line by some people, who took to Twitter to express their condemnation.  At one point, hosts Tina Fey and Amy Poehler did their best Cosby impressions, as they re-created the rape allegations that have swirled around the comedian over the past few months--provoking shocked gasps from some of the celebrity attendees in the front rows.  Later, Margaret Cho came out dressed as a North Korean general who wanted to take a selfie with Meryl Streep--and, in spite of the face that Cho is Korean herself (and has made parodying her mother's Korean accent a staple of her stand up for the past two decades), she was accused of milking Asian stereotypes.

Never has the line between free speech and PC correctness been tested to a greater extent, than it was here, on the same night that 3.7 million people spilled out into the streets of France to honor those who lost their lives for their satire.  It is this author's view that we did the right thing at the Golden Globes, telling jokes that made people squeamish--because freedom of speech is not about how we treat the things we like hearing, but how tolerant we are of the things we don't like to hear.



As for the winners of the 2015 Golden Globes, it was pleasing to see that several of 4seating's picks for the best films of 2014, including "Boyhood" and "The Grand Budapest Hotel", walked away with several awards each.  Tim Burton's excellent "Big Eyes" earned Amy Adams a best actress nod, while "Birdman" also won several big awards including best actor (Michael Keaton).  Meanwhile, Amazon's "Transparent" became the first exclusively online show to win a Golden Globe, for best Musical or Comedy--an award that was dedicated to the transgender community that is its subject matter.  Although TV categories are the province of the Globes, it looks like a showdown is brewing between "Birdman" and "Boyhood" as to which film will take top honors at the Oscars. Stay tuned, entertainment lovers!

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.  

Thursday, January 8, 2015

The Tablet

The advent of the computer tablet brought a new portability to internet entertainment.  No longer restricted to bulky computers and laptops, you could carry it with you anywhere, anytime--the entire power of the web at your fingertips.  It's a fact that when it comes to audiovisual content, there are times when you want the power of a large screen and state-of-the-art sound system to make the action on-screen really come to life.  Conversely, those who have spent their savings on constructing the perfect home theater should not feel restricted only to what they can pop into a DVD player.  Happily, the marriage of the internet and the large-screen is easily accomplished by hooking a tablet to your TV set, bringing the million-plus options of the World Wide Web to movie theater excellence. 



There are two primary ways of hooking a tablet to a television set.  First, you may want to get an adjustable tablet holder which can fit easily onto your home theater seat's armrest, so that you can browse the web within arm's reach.  Then, you can either use your home wi-fi to connect your tablet to your screen, or use a cable to connect to the HDMI (High Definition Multimedia Interface) ports on your tablet and TV.  Each option will work, although if you're looking for an ultra-fast connection you may want to stick with a cable hookup.  In addition, keeping your tablet charged has become less of hassle with the introduction of deluxe home theater seats like the Liberty and Horizon, which come complete with charging stations featuring USB ports.  

From there, you have the internet at your command.  Internet streaming services like Netflix, Hulu, and Google Play offer thousands of movies and TV shows (commercial free!) to choose from.  Recently Netflix has been focusing more on TV shows and original content, which has let Google Play and Amazon Prime offer a wider variety of movies. Therefore, it's best to become familiar with all the options at your fingertips, as between them you're bound to find what you're looking for.  The recent debut of "The Interview" in the online streaming format has possibly set a precedent for further films being made available this way--meaning that home theater owners may be set to catch more first-run releases online in the near future.  Youtube is also a great source for older films, TV, and especially live music uploads. Want to see The Beatles live on "Ready! Steady! Go!" in 1964, or the latest Taylor Swift video? Youtube is likely to have it, and watching these shows on the big screen, with the sound system that you spent so much time and care to install,  is the only way to do them justice.



Gamers will also have a field day with a tablet hookup, as the internet offers dozens of game sites that feature variations on classic board games and puzzles, with more sophisticated visual odysseys that will have you lost in their imaginative worlds.  This entertainment option has come a long way since Pac-Man or Super Mario, now offering characters, plotlines, and beguiling visual backdrops that are more akin to user-participation movies than games.  Once again, you will find a dramatic difference between playing these games on your tablet, and being able to do so with the advantages offered by a home theater setup.  Besides gaming, you can also access personal files to conveniently share family photos on the big screen, or spend time on social media. You won't ever have to squint if you wish to read an e-book, either, although with the tablet holder you can also read directly from your tablet while reclining in your seat without having to hold it in your hands.  

So what are you waiting for?  Why agonize over having to figure out what movie to watch, only to find that you have to wait to purchase or order it?  Get your instant gratification now by being able to browse to your heart's content from thousands of available choices--or decide to try that new online version of Monopoly. You'll never be at a loss, with your tablet hookup; the only problem will be how to narrow the endless list of choices down. 

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, December 29, 2014

2014 In Review

It's that time of the year: the time when we here at 4seating wrap up the year in film.  The year provided us with no shortage of surprises, which perhaps climaxed with the full-blown international incident that accompanied "The Interview".  Interest in the bedeviled film was so high, that it managed to gross a very respectable $18 million in its opening weekend, with a limited theatrical release and groundbreaking online streaming.  The innocuous action-comedy may yet end up bringing about a paradigm shift in the way Hollywood markets its films, with the online world now grabbing a slice of the pie previously reserved first for theaters.  And theaters have a lot to worry about, with the rise in home theaters providing an ideal venue for a movie in online release.

As important as this shift may be, films broke ground in other ways in 2014.  These are the author's picks for the best five movies he saw this year:



1. BOYHOOD: this film, shot over a period of 12 years, traces the coming of age of a young boy until he reaches his freshman year of college.  Being able to witness actor Ellar Coltrane grow up in real time, right before your eyes, is truly astonishing as the scope of the film takes in traumatic family events with a post 9-11 America as its backdrop.  The film manages to capture the elusive essence of life even amidst the drama, and is ultimately uplifting without resorting to 'feel-good' cliches. Patricia Arquette and Ethan Hawke give moving performances as the boy's estranged parents.  The film is an Oscar favorite, and even President Obama named it his pick for 2014.  This is one of the most ambitious and unusual films to emerge from Hollywood in years, if not decades.



2. THE BABADOOK: when William Friedkin--the director of "The Exorcist"--said this was the scariest film he's ever seen, audiences took notice.  An Australian indie film shot on a low budget, "The Babadook" dispenses with makeup and gore and goes for eerie psychological thrills, as a monster from a children's book comes to life and torments the mother of a mentally disturbed six-year old boy.  When we do see the monster, it is one modeled after century-old designs, as if ripped out of a Victorian nightmare; director Jennifer Kent insisted that it be a real figure, neither constructed or enhanced digitally.  As the mother slowly descends in to madness, her performance keeps you locked at the edge of your seat.



3. INTERSTELLAR: Christopher Nolan has rapidly risen to become one of Hollywood's most intelligent directors of sci-fi blockbuster fare.  He followed up the uber-complicated hit "Inception" with this space opera, which focuses on the search for habitable worlds by means of a wormhole that has suddenly been detected near Saturn.  A father's fractured relationship with his daughter is at the heart of the tale, and provides much of the emotional pull.  The film finds its way to distant planets of oceans and ice, but kicks into a higher gear when it gets all quantum physics on the viewer.  The film is elegantly constructed, but you'll need to put your thinking cap on to fully appreciate what is happening on screen.



4. THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL: another quirky, quasi-surreal comedy from the mind of Wes Anderson, this delightful romp centers around the relationship between a hotel concierge and his lowly assistant, as the former is framed for murder.  The young boy helps his mentor escape prison and find the real perpetrator, but the plot isn't really the focus, here--it's all about the decidedly bizarre series of events that are set in motion by what happens.  The film's wry, European sense of wit will make it another Oscar favorite, for sure (it's already snagged several Golden Globe nominations).



5. FOXCATCHER: this chilling film was based on the real-life story of wealthy heir John DuPont and his bond with two wrestling brothers, who he ropes into his inner circle as he trains them for Olympic gold.  Comedian Steve Carell was praised for his utterly astonishing transformation into the unsettling character of DuPont, although Channing Tatum also gives the performance of his career (at least, to date) as the younger brother.  The film deviates from the real story in several significant ways, but this does not detract from the underlying sense of doom which permeates every frame.  The ending will shock anyone not familiar with the tale, not so much because it comes as a surprise, but because there is so little explanation for it--and that's exactly how it was in real life.  Even those who have no interest in the sport of wrestling will find this a gripping watch.

There were, of course, many other fine films this year that did not make this list.  Think I missed a few?  Let us know!

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.  

Thursday, December 4, 2014

The Grenada LX Sectional

The Grenada LX sectional is a deluxe home theater setup that can be configured into loveseat, sofa, and curved row configurations, with or without wedge consoles.  This unique design also features several hi-tech additions which make it one of the most sophisticated sectionals on the market.


The design of the Grenada LX features strong,  bolstered seat backs, topped with generously overstuffed headrests.  The contemporary look exudes a smooth confidence that also secures your frame in plush comfort.  Black and brown color options add to its striking look, and are able to match any home theater decor with ease.  The seats of the Grenada feature a gently curved bottom which allows you to sink in for maximum leisure,  Stretch out with a full chaiselounger, which eliminates the traditional gap between seat and footrest for a full, pampered cushion of the lower body.

The Grenada LX is fashioned from Leather 7000, a premium grade of leather that exudes a luxury ambience.  This material is carefully handpicked from the top third of all hides and then buffed to remove any imperfections, resulting in a leather with an exceptionally fine grain and smoothly textured feel.  As you wrap yourself in its folds, your senses will be caressed in turn, right down to the material's distinctive aroma.  Leather 7000 provides easy maintenance--just rub down with a dampened cloth on occasion--and if properly cared for, will only improve in patina and softness over time.


The Grenada can be enjoyed as a loveseat and sofa, or as curved row configurations with unique wedge consoles.  Each wedge console folds down to reveal an overhead reading light, cup holders, power recline switch and USB ports!  Cup holders keep your beverages secure and within easy arm's reach.  Power recline allows you to adjust to any desired recline position at the press of a button, while USB ports offer a handy means to charge cell phones, tablets, and any other electronic items needed for a full night's entertainment.  Each armrest of the Grenada LX also features lighted cup holders, which emit a warm azure glow that keeps your beverages secure and discreetly lit, and are matched by ambient base lighting that provides a sensational marquee accent in a darkened room. Many other sectionals may boast one or two of these features, but all in one place?  The Grenada LX has it all!


As if that weren't enough, included tray tables offer plenty of space for snacks, remotes, magazines, tablets, and anything else you may need to make your evening complete.  When done for the night, simply place any items within the ample storage space located within each armrest.  With this many exciting options to choose from, you won't be able to turn this fully-loaded home theater sectional down!!

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.  


Thursday, November 27, 2014

Thanksgiving Is Here! Celebrate With These Classic Films

Thanksgiving is one of America's most iconic holidays, and yet--especially compared to, say, Christmas-- there are only a handful of films that orient themselves around the celebration.  Still, there are enough wonderful, family-oriented Thanksgiving films to choose from, should you decide
to skip the football game this time around (or, why not double the fun and watch after the game?) The following is a shortlist of five Thanksgiving classics that don't receive nearly enough due:



1. PLANES, TRAINS, AND AUTOMOBILES (1987): John Hughes took time out from directing classic teenage coming-of-age comedies like Sixteen Candles and Breakfast Club, when he put Steve Martin and John Candy together for what is possibly his very finest film.  This tale of a hapless business exec just trying to make it home in time for Thanksgiving--and having to deal with an unwanted companion while a series of hilarious disasters strike around the pair--was the first film that came to mind for this article.  It is a laugh-riot through much of its length that comes to an unexpectedly heartwarming conclusion, one that celebrates the spirit of the holiday with able finesse. Over a quarter-century after its release, it remains staple Thanksgiving viewing.



2. HANNAH AND HER SISTERS, 1986.  Woody Allen's best-received film of the 80s is not entirely focused around Thanksgiving, although the holiday does neatly bookend the plot.  The expert blend of comedy and drama is deftly handled, and the focus on a singular family--in this case, the three sisters of the film's title--tie it further to a Thanksgiving motif.  The themes of adultery and betrayal are on the mature side, and yet there's nothing here that can't be viewed by the whole family (outside of perhaps young toddlers).  Both Dianne Wiest and Michael Caine give memorable performances, for which both won Supporting Actor/Actress awards at that year's Oscars.




3. ADDAMS FAMILY VALUES, 1993.  Critically and commercially well-received at the time but somewhat forgotten since, this delightful sequel was superior to the first Addams Family film, and a worthy successor to the original 60s series.  The opening scenes--in which the Addams children concoct a riotous Thanksgiving play for their summer camp, mourning Native American genocide--are both subversive and hilarious.  This film is well-worth checking out again; you'll be surprised at how well it has stood up over the decades.  The cast was so good, in fact, that Anjelica Huston received a Golden Globe nomination for her role as Morticia.



4. ALICE'S RESTAURANT, 1969. This film was based around a twenty-minute Arlo Guthrie folk song from 1967, which built a story narrative around a madcap crime, arrest, and police interrogation which occurs just after Thanksgiving dinner.  The film, like the song, had a strong political narrative and was seen as a counterculture indictment of the Vietnam War, the draft, and "establishment". Although that may appear to make the film dated, it is not, as the direction and acting is superb all-around.  This film is another that has been forgotten over time, and yet is a recognized American classic.



5. A CHARLIE BROWN THANKSGIVING, 1973.  Although eclipsed by the legendary Charlie Brown Halloween and Christmas specials, A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving is a delight, and perfect viewing for families with small children.  Snoopy's attempt to make Thanksgiving dinner, with toast and popcorn as the delectable entrees, will bring a silly smile to adult audiences as well.  It's actually surprising that more children's animated films do not focus around this family-oriented holiday--although The Simpsons have had several memorable TV episodes which take place during this time.

We here at 4seating wish everyone a very Happy Thanksgiving.  Try not to pass out!

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.