Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Lemony Snicket Review Published

The review of Lemony Snicket's Series of Unfortunate Events has been published on Read my post about the experience -- then read my review of the movie.

Be Cool (26April05)

After somehow managing to acquire a part-time job over the weekend (it happened so fast that even I'm not exactly sure how it happened), I was dying to hit The Cheap Theater on Tuesday. I was a little concerned, however, when Paul came home from work at 3, suffering from some pretty nasty allergies. I feared our movie night would be out of the question -- but after trading in his contacts for his glasses and taking some extra allergy medicine, he was ready to go. What a relief!

Our choices were limited this week. There were a few movies that we wanted to see, but most of them were really long. So we decided to see a shorter one instead (Be Cool). But there were a couple of concerns:

1) It's PG-13
2) This was its first week in the theater.

In other words, we were risking a theater full of loud-talking, seat-kicking idiots.

It was a dark, cold, rainy evening, which could go either way -- people would either decide that they couldn't be outside, so they might as well just go to a movie, or they'd just decide to stay warm and dry at home. It turned out to be the latter. Paul dropped me off by the door, and by the time he'd come back from parking the car, I had already bought the tickets and made my way inside.

The ticket-ripper directed us to a place we'd never been before. "All the way down, take a left," he told us, pointing down to the long, dark hallway at the far end of the building.

Is this movie that bad? I wondered to myself as we trudged into the deep, dark depths of the building.

Eventually, we found our theater, tucked back in the very front corner of the building. It wasn't one of the big ones -- and it wasn't very full. Then again, we had shown up early, expecting a first-week crowd. The left side of the aisle was filling up quickly, so we chose the right side. But as Paul led me down the aisle, he committed a ghastly movie theater faux pas -- he directed me to a seat immediately in front of two people who were already seated.

"Here?" I asked dubiously as he pointed out the seats. "Well...okay."

I hate it when people do that to me -- choose seats right in front of me when there are tons of other seats available. I prefer only to sit right in front of someone else if it's absolutely necessary. That way, the person behind me doesn't have to try to look over/around/through me, and I don't have to deal with his or her chatter/seat-kicking/sneezing. The same rule applies for public bathrooms. You never take the stall next to one that's already occupied -- unless it's absolutely necessary. I prefer to respect others' personal space.

Apparently miffed by our choice of seats, the two bodies behind us eventually moved down the row a few seats. I felt bad for a while -- but not for long.

Be Cool ended up being a college-student-heavy film. And since college students are notorious for always being a little behind schedule, the theater didn't fill up until after the movie had started -- but then it was close to packed.

As it turned out, it was a good thing that the people behind us chose to move -- because they also chose to talk loudly through the entire movie. In a language that I didn't recognize. And then they laughed hysterically at all the wrong times.

Just because they weren't speaking my language didn't mean I didn't hear them. In fact, it was worse. If they were speaking English, at least I'd know what they were talking about. But since I couldn't understand what they were saying, it made me all the more curious.

Fortunately, it was just the two of them. It could have been worse. They could have been joined by the woman on the other side of the theater -- the one who had the loudest laugh I've ever heard and who laughed loudly and heartily at everything. The movie was pretty funny at times, but it wasn't nearly that funny.

Our Tuesday night adventure may not have been our only movie outing this week. After all, we have two movies that we want to see that are over two hours -- and that's just too much of a time commitment for a Tuesday night. So we may check out the weekend scene this week...

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

The Wedding Date (19April05)

Since we went our separate ways last week -- I went to Michigan to visit my family while Paul flew to the Netherlands for business -- I was extra-excited for another Tuesday at The Cheap Theater. And since this particular Tuesday turned out to be generally horrible and mentally exhausting, I was even more excited.

As usual, we discussed our options over dinner. We had previously been leaning toward The Phantom of the Opera or Sideways, but I didn't think I could handle drama, so we agreed on The Wedding Date.

NOTE 1: I know...I know...but I'm a girl, and I stand by my right to see cheesy chick flicks every once in a while, thank you very much.

NOTE 2: Yes, my husband is a very kind and understanding man, and I have already told him that I owe him big-time.

Since spring is finally here to stay (as evidenced by the fact that a local pub is once again hosting beach volleyball leagues), getting into the theater wasn't too much of a problem. The theater was still relatively busy (or at least the parking lot was), but everyone was going to see Cursed (which, if you ask me, was even more ridiculous than seeing a cheesy chick flick).

When we walked into our theater ("First door on the left," the ticket-ripper announced blandly), it wasn't empty as I'd expected, considering the reviews I'd read. In fact, there were quite a the theater. When we entered, I believe the testosterone levels increased by approximately 50%. There were pairs and trios of female college students, large groups of cackling middle-aged hens, and a few couples -- the few men in the theater pretending not to feel extremely uncomfortable.

"Next week, you can pick any movie you want," I promised Paul as we settled into our seats.

I quickly discovered that a theater full of women awaiting a chick flick is even noisier than a theater full of kids awaiting a Disney movie. It could even rank right up there with a theater full of Trekkies awaiting Star Trek XMVII. But none of the women were actually talking about the movie -- they were just happy to have their girl moment, away from dirty laundry and screaming kids. They just cared about the latest gossip and their friend's new haircut. If you've ever been in the women's room of a popular club on a Saturday night, you know what I mean.

But once the movie started, all that changed. All the women quieted down to enjoy the movie. And other than plenty of laughs and a few somewhat louder than necessary "HMPH!"s in response to catty remarks made by the snotty sister (the "HMPH!"s actually brought the rest of the ladies in the theater to stifled giggles), all was calm.

My chick flick experience this week was a good one. No chatty kids plunking their booster seat next to me. No socially challenged idiot kicking the back of my chair. Just a bunch of women, happy to have a night out with the girls, quietly twittering their way through a brainless, sappy, totally unrealistic (but cute nonetheless) chick flick (one that happens to show Dermot Mulroney's rear).

It felt a little bit like a slumber party.

Do I feel guilty for dragging my husband to an obvious chick flick? A little bit.

Was it worth it? Definitely.

I walked out of the theater -- after a hellish day -- with a smile on my face (and we didn't even have to smuggle in a few beers, as had been suggested at dinner).

And I'm sure I'll get to return the favor sooner or later.

Thursday, April 07, 2005

Popcorn, Anyone?

This week's issues with popcorn-munching in the theater led me to a brief mental sidetrack, which I set aside to enjoy the movie -- but I've since picked it up again.

Why popcorn?

I know that popcorn and movies go hand-in-hand -- and have for ages -- but why? Who the heck decided that it would be a good idea to send moviegoers into the theater with such an obnoxiously crunchy-munchy-noisy snack? I realize that the salt compels moviegoers to also spend an arm and a leg on highly overpriced soda (which, at The Cheap Theater, they rarely do, since everyone smuggles in their own bottles). But couldn't they have come up with a salty snack that's not so noisy? How about selling mini salt licks at the concession stand?

Perhaps they don't actually want moviegoers to hear the movie. Or maybe they just don't care, since they're out there counting the money in the concession stand cash register while the rest of us are sitting in the theater, surrounded by popcorn munchers, wondering what the heck that other guy -- the good-looking one who will obviously get the girl in the end -- just said.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Finding Neverland (5April05)

Once again, Tuesday came with sunshine and warmth -- 77 and not a cloud in the sky. But after last week's experience, I decided not to make any assumptions about the crowd at the theater.

Over the weekend, most of the movies on my wish list had disappeared. In fact, only one remained. Joined by a couple of new ones -- Sideways and The Wedding Date (I know...I know...but can't a girl watch a cheesy chick flick every once in a while?), that made three options. Since Paul's going to be in Europe next Tuesday (thereby making our weekly date for Cheap Night at The Cheap Theater somewhat difficult to pull off), we decided to go with the held-over movie: Finding Neverland. Since it had been in the theater a week, we hoped it wouldn't be too packed.

Following a short walk around the block and a scarfed-down dinner, we headed out -- a half-hour early, as usual. Paul sped just the slightest bit as we contemplated the line-up.

"If there's a long line, I'll just drop you off, okay?" he told me as I checked my walled for a $1 bill.

But the scene in the parking lot this week was nothing like last week. My warm-weather theory had finally proven itself -- the lot was empty. In fact, I don't think we've ever been able to park that close to the door. And there was no line to get tickets -- we pretty much just walked right in.

The scene in the theater was about the same as last week, though. A few people in the back rows, randomly seated in pairs here and there. So we took our seats in an empty row, just off the center aisle (I was on the aisle, as I believe I always will be from now on, thanks to my Lemony Snicket near breakdown), with no one behind us.

That, however, did not remain the case.

As it got closer to show time, more people squeezed into the theater. Most of them, I noticed, were senior citizens -- a fact that made me feel quite comfortable, since the senior citizens I've known (well, outside of Massachusetts, that is) have all been very respectful of others. So as they squished in beside us and behind us, I didn't even flinch.

For the most part, I was right. Other than the couple behind me, who occasionally attempted to casually converse over top of the movie, the evening's audience was remarkably quiet. Well...mostly. Except for the stereo popcorn-munching, which made it up to deafening sound levels at the beginning of the movie before tapering off as:

1) The munchers of said popcorn got too involved in the movie to eat
2) They couldn't hear the movie over their own munching, so they decided to stop
3) They realized that they'd soon be utterly parched, and they'd forgotten the soda
4) They were parched and had remembered the soda, but they realized that only a camel could hold in a jumbo-sized soda through an entire movie, so they slowed down their intake

I would suggest that they had possibly fallen asleep, but I can't imagine that would be the case during such a spectacular movie.

It occurred to me during the movie that maybe people are capable of shutting up and sitting quietly in their seats if the movie is good enough to hold their attention. Because Finding Neverland was definitely good. And the crowd (except for the occasional conversation behind me -- and the baby a few rows ahead of me) was shockingly quiet. And perfectly still. Apparently, none of the other movies I've seen lately were any good.

So...the movie -- spectacular. The experience -- near blissful and surprisingly almost idiot-free (there was, unfortunately, a guy across the aisle who got a phone call mid-movie -- but at least he was kind enough not to answer).

It's movie-going experiences like this one that make me remember why I love movies as much as I do.