Monday, May 5, 2014

Riske Business: What Does Your Mom Think About Movies?

Say hi to your mother for me.

In honor of Mother’s Day this week, I think it would be cool if we all had a movie chat with our moms. My mom is one of my go-to movie buddies and someone that has influenced my taste for certain movies, genres, music and actors. I was surprised after speaking with her how much of my own preferences probably started from her. Here is our discussion, followed by a list of questions that you can ask your mom.

Adam: I think I know the answer to this one already, but what is your favorite movie?

Mrs. Riske: Saturday Night Fever, because of the Bee Gees music and the dancing sequences.

Adam: That’s one of my favorites, too. I first got into that movie because of all the Bee Gees music you had in your jukebox. Did you know that Saturday Night Fever was Gene Siskel’s favorite movie and that he owned Travolta’s white suit from the movie?
Mrs. Riske: That’s neat that he owned the suit. I owned the red dress Karen Lynn Gorney wore.

Adam: Oh you got jokes, huh? So, a great thing about you is your love of The Fast and the Furious franchise. In fact, you’ve become my go-to buddy for seeing Fast and the Furious movies. What do you enjoy about the series?

Mrs. Riske: The things people do to catch the villains in those movies are so ridiculously over-the-top it’s funny and all the people involved in the car chases are very impressed with themselves.

Adam: Interesting. I agree with the first part for sure. I wish life were more like a Fast and the Furious movie. Do you have any favorite characters?

Mrs. Riske: My favorite characters are the ones played by Vin Diesel, who is about what you would expect of someone with the last name Diesel, and Jordana Brewster. The Rock is funny, too, with his shirts that show off his over-the-top muscular arms.
Adam: You may literally be the only person to have Mia Toretto as one of your favorite characters from those movies. That’s crazy, yo. Speaking of which…when did you realize I was movie crazy?

Mrs. Riske: When you were about 4 years old. It was not hard to figure out because you insisted on looking at movie posters in the theatre lobby whenever you went to a movie. We also had to get a brochure of the upcoming movies when you and I or even your father and I went to a theatre. You had a pretend movie theatre called “Adam’s Movie Theatre" that was located on our fireplace hearth. Plus, you recommended movies to teachers and other adults even though you often just heard about them and had not even seen them. You used to memorize the names of all the local theatres, what was playing at each one and the times the movies were being shown. You also wrote two movie reviews that were published in The Daily Herald newspaper in a column for movie reviews by children.

Adam: I sound like a cool kid. So right now, you babysit for my niece and nephew all the time. Since you’re now an expert, what do you think of The Adventures of Elmo in Grouchland? How many times do you think you've seen it?

Mrs. Riske: I really enjoy watching The Adventures of Elmo in Grouchland with my grandchildren. My grandson is 22 months old and he counts with the countdown at the beginning, calls out color names, laughs at some of the gags, sometimes does raspberries with Elmo for the ultimate challenge and dances with the Queen of Trash. I have probably seen that movie with him about 60 times. I have also seen the movie The Shaggy Dog (the black and white version with Annette Funicello and Tommy Kirk) about 60 times when your sister was little and she made us watch it daily. Dad had to dance with her during the dance scene. 
Adam: I enjoy The Adventures of Elmo in Grouchland too. It’s cute and struck a chord with me because Elmo loves his blue blanket, same as I did when I was little. I think I’ve only seen that movie 30 times during my visits over there. Is The Shaggy Dog worth watching?

Mrs. Riske: Yes, it’s cute and very '50s.

Adam: Cool, so you went to the movies all the time in the '50s. I’m so jealous of you because you got to see most of your movies in big movie theaters or during double features, etc. What was it like when you went to the movies as a kid?

Mrs. Riske: It cost 25 cents for me to get into the movie and I would get a box of popcorn (15 cents for plain and 25 cents for buttered) and Coke (which was 10 cents). I was given 50 cents by my parents and I could decide whether to get buttered popcorn or a Coke. There were always two features and cartoons. I went to the movies with my friends most Saturday afternoons and often with my uncle and my brother. We would go see entire afternoons of cartoons. We lived within walking distance from the Granada theatre, the 400 theatre, the Devon theatre and the Adelphi Theatre. I also could take the bus or elevated train to the Howard theatre, Northtown theatre, Uptown theatre and the Riviera theatre. The Devon, Adelphi and 400 theatres were independently owned little neighborhood places and very plain, but the other theatres were owned by the big chain of Balaban and Katz and were very big and ornate with a balcony, throne chairs, carvings in the theatre and lobby and a lot of red velvet and marble. I always felt like the ornate movie theatres were my favorite places to see a movie.
Adam: They charged you extra for butter on popcorn? Did you have that or a pop usually?

Mrs. Riske: Why are you surprised that buttered popcorn cost extra when I was a little girl? The theatres were in business to make money. I think I usually got a Coke and only once in a while got buttered popcorn. I remember that the candy counter sold popcorn, large boxes of candy, ice cream sundaes and ice cream bars and taffy apples. I don't think they sold hot dogs at that time at the theaters.

(Adam’s dad interjects from the other room that they did sell hot dogs back then at the theater. Then he goes back to watching the hockey game).

Adam: I think only the 400 theatre still stands, though I know it’s been renovated because it’s advertised as “The New 400.” We should go sometime. What type of movies were you a fan of when you were a kid?

Mrs. Riske: I liked to see Disney movies, comedies, science fiction movies and cartoons.

Adam: Did you have any favorites in particular?

Mrs. Riske: I remember liking the Disney movie Cinderella as a little girl. I liked the movie Some Like It Hot. I also liked the Japanese horror movies because the monsters looked like toys.

Adam: What?

Mrs. Riske: Like Mothra.

Adam: Oh, ok. I got it.

Mrs. Riske: We used to laugh at how silly they were. I also liked Creature from the Black Lagoon.

A: I do too. Shameless plug: did you read my column about when I saw that movie at the Patio and Julie Adams gave me an old person disease? I was sick after that event for about a week -- and during Scary Movie Month to boot.

But back to you. I wish they still showed cartoons before movies. Did you enjoy when they did that?

Mrs. Riske: Yes, one of my favorite cartoons was Tweety and Sylvester. I also liked the Mickey Mouse cartoons.
Adam: Since now they show trailers before movies, how do you feel about those?

Mrs Riske: There are way too many trailers and commercials for products before movies nowadays.

Adam: I agree. Instead of seven, there should be four at most (about 10 minutes) and I think they should just have a blank screen with music instead of commercials, which is what I remember they did before movies when I was a kid.

What did you take me to see that you liked when I was younger?

Mrs Riske: I took you to see a lot of Disney movies, the Muppet movies and the Ninja Turtles. I liked them and liked to see how much you and your sister enjoyed them, too.
Adam: You were my hero that opening night for Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. I remember we went to the mall theater by our house and the 7:10 and 8:15 shows were sold out and I was super depressed. I thought for sure we weren’t going to see it that night. Then you said we should go to the 9:00 show and I couldn’t believe you were going to let me, 7-year old Adam Riske, stay up until maybe 11:00 so I could see Turtles. It was amazing.

Mrs. Riske: You’re welcome. It really wasn’t a big deal.

Adam: That’s hero talk. What did you take me to see that you didn’t like?

Mrs. Riske: Benji the Hunted and Fantasia. I would have walked out if you hadn't liked them.

Adam: Yeah, I remember thinking those were boring when we saw them but oddly enough now I love Fantasia. Are there any movie genres you dislike?

Mrs. Riske: Some horror (e.g. slasher movies), war movies and some sports movies.

Adam: I forgot to ask earlier when I mentioned Gene Siskel: who did you agree with more, Siskel or Ebert?

Mrs. Riske: Siskel. I thought Roger Ebert was very impressed with himself and was a snob.

Adam: I totally disagree with Ebert being a snob, but that’s cool. So interesting that was how you read Ebert., what are some recent movies you’ve seen that you thought were good?

Mrs. Riske: The Hunger Games (which was a little violent for a movie about teenagers), The Butler and 12 Years a Slave.

Adam: I like some of those. On the opposite end, have you ever walked out of a movie because it was so bad?

Mrs. Riske: I went to see the movie The Bible with your father when we were dating and we walked out because it was so boring. A lot of people gave us dirty looks as we made our way out of our seats to the aisle.

Adam: That’s so weird. That reminds me of a story I have about seeing The Passion of the Christ. I went to see if opening night because of all of the controversy and when I walked into the theater I realized I was the only one who bought refreshments. The people in the theater gave me the stink eye. I felt bad.

Do you have any other good stories from when you went to the movies?
Mrs. Riske: When I was dating your father, we went to the Gateway theatre in January to see The Exorcist, which had just come out. Dad went to park the car and had me get in line to get tickets. The line was very long and went around the corner. I decided that I was not going to stand in line in the cold for so long so I went to right near the front of the line and discreetly blended in with the group. When dad came to join me, he could not find me near the back of the line and eventually found me near the front and was amazed that I had butted in line.

Adam: Haha, nice. Anything movie-related that is surprising that I wouldn't know?

Mrs. Riske: I don't think you knew that I watched Magic Mike.

Adam: Did you think it was good? Did you think Channing Tatum and Matthew McConaughey were hot stuff?

Mrs. Riske: I liked Magic Mike. I don't think that Matthew McConaughey is hot, but I do think his characterization of an aging male stripper/club owner was interesting. I think Channing Tatum's character was a male version of a stripper with a heart of gold.
Adam: That’s a good movie. I guess it’s a guilty pleasure because society says guys shouldn’t watch Magic Mike, but society is stupid. What is one of your guilty pleasure movies?

Mrs. Riske: The Blob with Steve McQueen. It’s funny (he does not look like a teenager) and it reminds me of the '50s.

Adam: Did you know there is a festival every year to celebrate The Blob called Blob Fest?
Mrs. Riske: I did know that the town that The Blob was shot in does a Blob festival but didn't know that it was every year. Isn't the town in the Midwest? I would think it would be fun to go to Blob Fest.

Adam: I think so too. It’s in Pennsylvania. I want to go to the Blob Café. If you could have lunch (at the Blob Café) with any movie star, who would it be and why?

Mrs. Riske: I would like to have lunch with John Travolta because he could pick me up with his jet, we could fly anywhere for lunch, I could talk to him about Saturday Night Fever and he could give me dance lessons. I would not like to have lunch with Gary Sinise, Gary Busey (he’s weird), Richard Dreyfuss or Joe Pesci – he scares me.

Adam: Haha, I didn’t know you hated Ransom’s Jimmy Shaker. I think Rookie of the Year’s Chet Stedman might be cool to hang with, though. As far as Travolta, my mom having lunch with my favorite actor, that would be cool. I now definitely know where I got my Travolta fandom from. Is Saturday Night Fever your favorite soundtrack? What are some of your other favorites?

Mrs. Riske: Saturday Night Fever, Top Gun, Cocktail and Grease.

Adam: What are your favorite songs from them?

M: My favorite songs from the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack are “Night Fever,” “More Than a Woman,” “How Deep Is Your Love” and “Stayin' Alive.” I like the song “Grease” by Frankie Valli and “Greased Lightnin’” from the Grease soundtrack. From Top Gun, “Danger Zone” by Kenny Loggins and Berlin’s “Take My Breath Away” and “Kokomo” by The Beach Boys and “Hippy Hippy Shake” by Georgia Satellites from Cocktail.

Adam: I’m sad that “Don’t Worry Be Happy” didn’t get any love. It’s all good.

Thanks Mom! You’re the best and Happy Mother’s Day!

Mrs. Riske: You’re welcome, butchie boy!

(Adam and his mom hug)

Adam: Mom. Don’t call me that. I’m an important journalist.

Your turn, F-Heads! Interview your mom about movies and leave a comment with cool or surprising things you learned.

Here are some interview questions to get you started:
1.    What is your favorite movie and why?
2.    What was it like when you went to the movies as a kid?
3.    What are some good movies you’ve seen recently?
4.    What genres are you a fan of/not a fan?
5.    Any good stories from when you went to the movies?
6.    What are your favorite soundtracks?
7.    If you could have lunch with any movie star, who would it be and why?
8.    What is one of your guilty pleasure movies?
9.    Have you ever walked out of a movie?


  1. I don't think my mom would sit still or be interested long enough to answer these questions, but I do have her to thank as my movie buddy in many, many cases, even if she wasn't so interested in seeing whatever it was. I can say with pretty strong certainty that her favorite movie is Monsters Inc. and she would much rather go to something with a happy and clear ending. She hates ambiguous endings. She's much more open with what she'll see than my sister, though, who will only go to or enjoy something if it's a comedy. This was such a neat idea for a column, and I really nellies reading it!

    1. Haha, oops, just re-read my response. That last part should say "I really *enjoyed reading it." Darn phone!

    2. Thanks John! I liked "I really nellies reading it!" I might start saying nellies instead of enjoyed :-)

  2. I love that your Mom says she wouldn't want to have lunch with Gary Sinese out of nowhere! That was cracking me up. Left me really curious as to why?! So random. Great interview, you must feel really impressed with yourself ;)

    1. I always feel impressed with myself. Good observation :-)

      She doesn't like Gary Sinise, I think, because he's a bugged eyed monster . The Lt Dan Band doesn't help.

  3. Your Mom's awesome Adam - is she "the funny one" or do you get your sense of humour from both sides?

    Though I have some good Dad movie-memories, Mom is certainly more into watching them and surprisingly more likely to enjoy sci-fi and fantasy-type movies that Dad turns his nose up at so in the end I probably have more in common with her than my father movie-wise - I always like what he likes but Mom likes a lot more of what I like. She's also definitely a bigger fan of going to the theatre.

    I'm seeing her this weekend so maybe I'll run some of those questions by her!

    Great interview!

    1. Thanks Sol! My mom and dad are both funny but I take after my mom more.

      Looking forward to hearing your answers. I'll be doing an interview for dads next month :-)

  4. HAHA - great read

    Mrs. Riske: You’re welcome. It really wasn’t a big deal.

    Adam: That’s hero talk.

  5. Awesome interview Adam! Your Mom sounds like the coolest for taking you to see heroes in a half shell after 9pm. I was so inspired that I took the time yesterday and interviewed my Mom. We talked for a solid hour about movies and learned a lot about our similar and polar opposite movie tastes. Here's a small portion of our conversation:

    Ross: What is your favorite movie and why?
    Mrs. Reeder: It’s a toss up between two. Casablanca because I was born into that time period, plus the picture, the writing, the romance, the cast is phenomenal, and Same Time Next Year since it coincides with the experiences I’ve had. I wished for their happy ending, it didn’t happen for me, but it happened to them.

    Ross: What was it like when you went to the movies as a kid?
    Mrs Reeder: Well there was A Theaters and B Theaters. I went to the Byrd Theatre on Madison most of the time since that’s what I could afford. They always played B movies at the Byrd, so that’s were I saw Flash Gordon and cheap westerns. When we visited my Grandmother we would go to the Pay-show on the Northside.
    Ross: You mean the Patio on Irving and Harlem.
    Mrs Reeder: Yes.
    Ross: It’s still there. The owner is about my age and he’s in the process of restoring it.
    Mrs Reeder: That’s wonderful!
    Ross: How much were admission prices?
    Mrs Reeder: Admisson price at the Byrd was 15 cents, which included a double feature. The Marlboro, the Austin, and Lake in Oak Park were A Theaters and they charged 75 cents.

    Ross: Any good stories from when you went to the movies?
    Mrs Reeder: I remember going to see A Hard Day’s Night opening day with my friends. The first show was at 8:30AM.
    Ross: 8:30? That was the first show?!
    Mrs Reeder: Yes. You see you use to be able to walk into a movie theater, at anytime, and then spend the whole day watching the same movie. A Hard Day's Night only ran 87 minutes, so we could see about 8 or 9 screenings a day.
    Ross: How many times did you see A Hard Day’s Night in theaters?
    Mrs Reeder: About 53 times.
    Mrs Reeder: Who was your favorite Beatle?
    Mrs Reeder: George. I loved his scene in the production office
    Ross: They’re re-releasing a digitally restored 50th Anniversary print this year? You gonna make it to 54?
    Mrs Reeder: I’d like to. We should see it together.
    Ross: It’s a date. Speaking of which, what are your favorite soundtracks?
    Mrs Reeder: Same Time Next Year, Momma Mia, Rodgers Hammerstein, and Saturday Night Fever, even though I hated the movie.
    Ross: How could you hate Saturday Night Fever?
    Mrs Reeder: They used the f-word too much. Everything was F That, F This.
    Ross: So when you saw it you were all like F THIS MOVIE!
    Mrs Reeder: What?!
    Ross: Nevermind.

    Ross: Have you ever walked out of a movie?
    Mrs Reeder: No, I've been close to walking out on some though.
    Ross: What movie did you wished you walked out on?
    Mrs. Reeder: Last Tango in Paris.
    Ross: Dare I ask why?
    Mrs. Reeder: Have you seen it?
    Ross: Yes, it’s the only Bertolucci movie I’ve seen.
    Mrs Reeder: Well I sat through that whole movie and wished I hadn’t. It was the beginning of the end of Brando’s career. He was overweight and lacked the luster of the Wild Ones, Julius Caesar, and Viva Zapata!. (SPOILER ALERTS!) Not to mention the anal rape scene.
    Ross: It’s a difficult scene to watch and there’s misogyny all over the movie, but I suppose that’s the point to meditate on disillusioned male sex fantasies.
    Mrs. Reeder: I’d rather watch Mamma Mia.

    Happy Mother's Day F-Heads!

    1. Great chat Ross! I really enjoyed reading it. Happy belated Mothers Day