It is not exactly controversial for me to say I hate McDonald's. I’d go as far to say I loathe them. Their burgers are small and unappetizing. Their chicken is bland; their fish is gross. Even their fries - supposedly the one thing they do really well - I find rather boring, and too salty. Yet, I still occasionally eat there.
When I’m on the Interstate, and hungry, sometimes I’ll stop at a McDonald's if there is nothing else at the exit. Or if one of their restaurants sit next to the hotel I’m staying at, I’ll walk over rather than drive to some other fast-food joint. Since the chain restaurant exists nearly everywhere, when we're traveling overseas, we’ll often stop in because they are familiar, and usually have free wi-fi. Once in a blue moon, I’ll get some horrible craving and I’ll load up on their chicken-nugget deals.
I say it's not controversial for me to hate them because that seems to be a pretty universal sentiment. I dare say most people don’t really like them. While there are no doubt folks who really enjoy their brand of over-priced, over-salted food products, I imagine the majority of people who eat there do so out of convenience (and for their shiny playgrounds and toys for the kids) rather than some actual desire to consume their edibles.
And yet, McDonald's is one of the biggest, most successful companies on the planet. This is largely due to one Ray Croc, a California businessman who saw something special in the McDonald Brothers innovations to their restaurant kitchen and knew he could turn the company into a major success. The brothers turned their restaurant into an assembly line of food. They could cook their food quickly and serve it up fast for hungry patrons in a hurry. Croc took that idea and franchised the hell out of it.
He’s a fascinating guy and The Founder, much like The Social Network, turns a quirky, successful business man into a big Hollywood movie. The reviews have mostly been good and the cast, including Michael Keaton and Nick Offerman, are excellent. I can’t say a story about a hamburger guy sounds interesting on its own, but I’ve always been fascinated by Croc and the trailer looks like a lot of fun.
Buena Vista Social Club (Criterion Collection): In 1999, Ry Cooder brought together an ensemble of legendary Cuban musicians who had mostly been forgotten due to the communist takeover in the '50s. They made an album together and director Wim Wenders documented it. The album and film became worldwide hits, bringing Cuban music back to the mainstream. And now Criterion is giving it their usual work over.
Woman of the Year (Criterion Collection): Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy star in this comedy about a couple of reporters who fall in love but continuously battle it out over professional conflicts and dueling priorities.
Sleepless: Michelle Monaghan, Dermot Mulroney, and Jamie Foxx star in this thriller about a cop scouring the criminal underworld in search of his kidnapped son. It's based on a French film which always gets me interested.
Ocean Waves: A TV-movie made by Studio Ghibli back in 1993. It's one of their less fantastic, more melodramatic films. It concerns a love triangle that develops between good friends and a new girl. Sounds like a lesser Ghibli film to me, but even lesser Ghibli is worth watching.
Donnie Darko (Remastered Limited Edition) Arrow Video has done a nice job sprucing up Richard Kelly’s utterly strange and utterly fascinating tale of…well, I’m not exactly sure what it's about, but it sure is fun to watch. My full review is here.
Split: James McAvoy stars in this M. Night Shyamalan flick about a man with 23 different personalities who is compelled to abduct three teenage girls. I thought movies about split personalities were over with by the 1980s (and movies directed by Shyalaman should have been done by 2010) and yet, I’m strangely interested in this one.