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, 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, November 10, 2014

Veteran's Day Watchlist

The close of the year generally sees a concentration of holidays that translate into big family gatherings, sales events, and religious platitudes of piety and thankfulness.  Halloween, Thanksgiving, Hannukah, and Christmas take up the lion's share of attention, but almost lost in the shuffle is Veteran's Day.  This holiday was set up in appreciation of our men and women in uniform, and distinguishes itself from the earlier Memorial Day which honors those who have died in battle. It's not hard to figure out why Veteran's Day is often overlooked; there's nothing involved in the holiday which spurs consumers out to buy food, costumes, or gifts, and so stores usually ignore it, moving straight from Halloween candy sales to discounts on turkey and stuffing.

When one considers that the United States has been at war for 13 consecutive years, however, the importance of those soldiers who have risked (and sometimes lost) their lives to protect our nation cannot and should not be sidestepped.  You don't have to be a dogmatic flag-waving patriot, in order to appreciate the people in uniform whose stamina and courage is undoubted; or maybe you are a flag-waving patriot.  In either case, 4seating offers up this shortlist of soldier or military-themed films for your perusal on Veteran's Day.  In compiling this list, we avoided films with an anti-war theme (ie. Apocalpyse Now, Platoon), although many of those are classics worth considering as well.  

PATTON (1970)

George C. Scott's portrayal of General George S. Patton, a heroic commander who fought several key WWII battles, is considered one of the finest performances in film history.  The opening monologue, with Scott as Patton standing proudly behind the American flag, is iconic, but Patton is much more than that.  The battle sequences were state-of-the-art for their time and while film technique has moved on since then (see the films below), Scott's performance has not aged a day. Patton also just happened to be Richard Nixon's favorite film, but don't let that stop you from marveling at this gritty and epic tribute to the men who fought and won the greatest conflict the world has ever known.


Steven Spielberg was still primarily known as a director of sci-fi/fantasy oriented summer blockbusters when he decided to take the reigns for this WWII drama.  Sure, there had been 1993's Schindler's List, for which he had won the Oscar, but it was Saving Private Ryan (which won him a second Oscar) that married Spielberg's penchant for gripping action fare with an equally compelling story.  The first 27 minutes of this film are often hailed as the most intense and realistic depiction of war ever shot, and Hanks' performance in the lead was similarly praised.  Spielberg would go on to make further critically-acclaimed films, but this one stands as perhaps his best, and is perfect Veteran's Day fare.


Goldie Hawn's career was in high gear when she decided to co-produce this starring vehicle for herself, which went on to earn several Academy Award nominations and be included in many "all-time greatest" comedy film lists.  The Private Benjamin of the title braves army boot camp, later romances a French doctor, and then ultimately leaves him when she finds out he's cheated.  Her stint as a soldier gives her the courage to strike out on her own; the film simultaneously works as tribute to the life of a soldier, as a feminist salvo, and as a deft mix of comedy and drama.  


Known primarily as the film which garnered the first-ever Oscar for a female director (Kathryn Bigelow), The Hurt Locker is a tough, gripping character study that exposes the horrors of modern-day warfare.  Although its portrayal of a bomb disposal unit in Iraq met with claims of inaccuracy from those who were actually in the field, its main character Sgt.James is complex and multi-dimensional, torn between an obsession with his work and the needs of the outside world.  The film combines spine-tingling suspense with a look at the dangers faced on a minute-by-minute basis by combat soldiers in Iraq, without being preachy or taking sides.  


Quentin Tarantino was never going to make an ordinary war epic, and Inglourious Basterds was unique in that it posited an alternate history of WWII with a completely different ending than the one we learn from history books.  The film is loaded with Tarantino's trademark dialogue and quirky sense of humor, although it is perhaps Christoph Waltz's breakout performance as Hans Landa which truly set it apart.  Waltz's "Jew hunter" Landa was lauded as one of the most memorable film villains in years, and won him a supporting actor Oscar for the role.  Inglourious Basterds may not be the most reverent war movie ever made, but it is one of the most fun.

At, 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, November 3, 2014

Which TV--And Which Audio?

In the first segment of this series, we looked at the pros and cons of the various screen ratios that are available to those looking to build their home theater.  As we saw, the appropriate type of screen ratio depended on the individual needs of intended usage of the theater itself.  The same holds true when picking the kind of TV set and audio setup needed to enhance it.  In the second part of this article, we will look at both of these concerns, noting the distinct features and advantages to each model.  


PLASMA: The advent of the plasma TV, with its flat monitor screen and high-definition picture, revolutionized the TV industry over a decade ago.  Although it took a while for prices to settle, plasma screens are a lot more affordable than they used to be.  They also still offer the best picture quality, including an extremely low variance in the all-important white and black "levels" that determine a screen's ability to pick up detail.  Basically, when a scene on the TV screen gets bright, having low "white levels" ensure that its brightness does not overwhelm small details; similarly, when a scene is dark, a good screen will have low "black levels" ensuring that the shadow does not obscure relevant detail.  While the most dazzling plasma screens are also the most expensive, anyone investing in a good home theater will find that the rewards of consistently outstanding picture quality will trump a momentary dip in the pocketbook.

LED: This term stands for "Light Emitting Diodes", which is how the television screen is backlit (by contrast, plasma TVs have phosphors which light up themselves).  LED screens offer several advantages that plasma screens do not: they are a bit less expensive, are lighter in weight, and consume far less power.  While the picture quality is of a slightly lesser standard, LED's have been catching up to plasma in recent years, with one model (the Sharp Elite Pro) now offering "black levels" equivalent to the best plasmas.  It is quite possible that LED screens may equal or overtake plasmas in picture quality within the next couple of years, which means that consumers may want to keep themselves updated on these advancements as they happen. At the moment however, while more expensive to purchase and more power-consuming, plasma is still--marginally--the way to go.  


SOUND BARS: A sound bar is the cheap, no-hassle way to get a relatively good sound system for your home theater. These items do not require routing through an endless series of complex wire connections, and their portable size makes them easy to install and convenient for those looking for a clean, space-saving option. However, they do not offer authentic surround sound capabilities (don't be misled by ads telling you that they do), and come up a bit short when playing music (at least, compared to other options).  Those who want a good, inexpensive sound system, but aren't the kind of audiophiles looking for the absolute best possible sound, should seek out this option.  

STEREO SPEAKERS: This option is falling out of fashion, even though it used to be the standard audio setup in most homes.  Basically, we're talking two left-right tower speakers and a receiver, for excellent-sounding stereo.  While stereo does not offer the immersive benefits of surround sound, it can frequently be just as satisfying, as the tower speakers are bigger than those used in surround systems (generally speaking, it's still a golden rule that the bigger the speaker, the better the sound).  

AV RECEIVER AND SPEAKERS: The coveted surround sound option is provided by getting an AV receiver with multiple smaller speakers, which are then placed at various points around the theater. The advantages are obvious: full, glorious surround sound.  However, the many components involved are tricky; this is the option with all those connecting wires during installation, and you're going to have to spend some time in figuring out the right placement for each speaker, that will provide a good balance from each theater seat.  This is also the most expensive option, although as with plasma screens, the expense is often mitigated by the long-term investment one is making for their theater.  Besides, if you're all thumbs when it comes to installing complex sound systems like this model, you can always tap the services of that friend or family member who is an expert at it!  The option is less daunting than it appears, and for hi-tech surround sound, it's the way to go. 

At, 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.