Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Withdrawal (23May06)

No, it's not the name of a movie that you've somehow missed. It's what I experienced last night.

This week, I was totally ready to go see Lucky Number Slevin (check out a review). In fact, it was the one thing that pulled me through the day. But when Paul' got home, he wasn't so sure we'd make it. With various holidays and family weddings and business trips on the horizon, we had some errands to run and things to do.

Still, we both really wanted to go. I mean, what's Tuesday without The Cheap Theater? Since the movie was a late one, we ate a quick dinner and decided to try to get a few things done before making our final decision. We parted ways and synchronized watches. We'd decide whether to abort Operation Cheap Theater at precisely 6:45.

Unfortunately, at 6:45, we were still scrambling to get things done -- so we made the difficult decision to skip the week. For various reasons, it'll be at least two weeks until I return to my beloved Cheap Theater. I don't know if I'll make it...

Then again, next Tuesday I'll be on the beach at my parents' cottage. I'll probably survive.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Inside Man (16May06)

Obviously, after more than a year, we're finally getting good at this Cheap Theater thing.

This week, we had other things to do before the show. Paul's summer hockey season is about to start, and his skates were horribly dull. So we decided to eat an early dinner, go to the hockey store to get the skates sharpened, and head straight to The Cheap Theater from there. We narrowed our selection down to three movies -- two that started around 7 and one at 7:30 -- and we'd make our final decision based on how long the skate sharpening took.

By the time we pulled into the parking lot, we still had enough time to catch the earliest movie. Are we good, or what?

The parking lot was shockingly deserted this week. For that reason, I was stunned by the number of people milling around the lobby once we got inside. They must have all come in one very large and very crowded bus. There were lines at the concession stand, and there were small children buzzing around like a pack of over-caffeinated gnats (making me glad that we'd decided against seeing Curious George this week). Paul stopped to go to the little boys' room, and as I waited for him, I watched the line to the ticket-ripper go from just a few people to almost out the door. I looked, but there was no old guy in vinyl hooker boots -- though there was an old white man with a gigantic black afro.

I'm guessing that the ticket-ripper was new. He definitely wasn't Derek, our usual ticket-ripper, and I don't recall seeing this kid before. Not only that, but he looked a little frazzled. After a while, one of the managerial-looking guys (who was still definitely much younger than I am) took pity on him and helped him out.

Again this week, we were in The Big Theater -- and it was already filling up. We barely got back-row seats -- and by the time the movie started, the place was pretty packed. Among the last to arrive were three young men who took the seats in the row ahead of us. The one who sat directly ahead of me was especially tall and gangly, and he wore what looked like his dad's suit coat. He sat up nice and straight -- and I spent the opening part of the movie trying to shift in my seat to find a position where

(a) I could see most of the screen, despite the kid's tall, spiky hair and gigantic ears


(b) I wasn't too close to the guy next to me, who was whispering questions to himself (like "Who is the Bard?").

(Just for the record -- that guy wasn't Paul. He was on the other side. And he knows who the Bard is.)

Inside Man is one of those suspenseful, action-packed movies that's so captivating that people in the theater actually shut up and pay attention. Well, most of them, at least. The young man on the inside end of the row ahead of us was apparently the kind who couldn't shut up if his life depended on it. The kid had Dork In Denial written all over him.

You know who I mean...that guy in high school who was totally uncool, yet he acted like he was the prom king. Thick glasses. Hair that always looks like it's at least a month overdue for a cut. Looks down on everyone -- and rolls his eyes whenever someone else speaks. Has been known to wear white socks and flip-flops. Laughs a little louder -- and a little longer -- than necessary. Hangs out with tall, gangly guys with spiky hair and big ears (who, in his own quiet way, is actually way cooler than his obnoxious friend). Cinematic example: Farmer Ted from Sixteen Candles.

Anyway, the Dork In Denial ahead of us thought he was being totally cool by chuckling loudly and condescendingly (punctuated at the end with a loud sigh) at random points in the movie. Then he'd excitedly whisper something to the guy next to him. My educated guess, based on my extensive experience with DID's, is he was pointing out miniscule, insignificant inconsistencies in the movie.

In fact, I'm pretty sure he's one of the guys who reports things like:

In the scene with the stuffed rhino, you can see a brief glimpse of the tip of a microphone as George says, "Have you seen my stuffed rhino?"

for the "Goofs" page on IMDb.

Guys like this one, despite being out of high school for years, still think they're way cooler (and smarter) than the rest of us. But, sadly, they still have nothing better to do than criticize the hard work of other people (other people who, incidentally, can probably get a date for the movies).

But anyway...I was, fortunately, able to tune out the DID for most of the movie. And I really liked it. So did Paul. And so did the cute little old couple who walked out of the theater ahead of us. Perhaps that makes us all less brilliant -- or less observant -- than the guy ahead of us. But I don't care.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

The Pink Panther (9May06)

This week, Paul felt a little bit guilty. Not only did he make me see Syriana on Tuesday -- but we also ended up renting Jarhead on Saturday. And that's more guy movies than one girl can handle in a weeks' time. Really. It was rough.

So this week, I was allowed to choose any movie I wanted to see. Unfortunately, there wasn't a single movie playing at The Cheap Theater that I was just dying to see. I narrowed it down to The Pink Panther or Curious George -- then, at random, I went with the former.

Since it was an early movie, I made sure to get dinner ready on time. And Paul was home early, too, so it all worked out. In fact, as is often the case, it worked out too well. We were finished with dinner early -- and, before I stopped to think about what I was saying, I heard myself exclaim, "We could play a game!"

Will I ever learn?

So we cleared the table, set up one of our favorite games, and played for a while -- but I kept a close eye on the time. Five minutes before it was time to go, I ran off to get ready. I even changed my clothes -- because even I wouldn't go out in public in the sloppy tank top I had on. Besides, I'd freeze to death. Not thinking, I threw on a pink T-shirt -- which, I later realized, made me look pretty corny, considering the movie we were going to see. But I'm pretty sure it's not the first time I've looked especially corny -- and I'm also pretty sure it won't be the last.

Miraculously -- board game playing and all -- we made it out the door on time. We didn't get caught behind some crazy drunk guy on a cell phone, nor were we cut off by any crazy women who were trying to drink a cup of coffee, read a map, and drive at the same time -- and we actually found a parking spot that wasn't three miles away from the theater. It was all too perfect. Apparently, not only was Paul paying me back for watching a lot of guy movies, but karma was paying us back for all the obstacles we've had to face of late to get to Cheap Night. But, as I've learned, karma is fickle -- and I didn't want to push it. It was, however, a nice change. We barely had to wait in line to buy our tickets (which Paul, being the big spender he is, offered to spring for). My favorite ticket-ripper was on duty -- and he directed us to the theater right in front of us. One of the nice big ones. And the back row was totally empty. It was all just too good to be true.

This week at The Cheap Theater, however, it was Pepper Pot night. The theater was full of them. In fact, besides the trio of Beyonce fans who took the back corner and the two couples who walked in together at the last minute, I'd have to say that Paul and I were the youngest people in the theater by at least 30 years.

In general, Pepper Pots aren't the most enjoyable of theater companions. They usually make a lot of noise with their outraged gasps and their constant tittering -- not to mention their tendency to talk to one another in their outside voices. They're not especially considerate of those around them -- who would, under most circumstances, rather listen to the movie that they'd paid a whopping 50 cents for than listen to two old women discussing, for instance, Steve Martin's moustache. So you'd think I'd be seriously annoyed by a theater full of chatting, tittering, gasping, crowing, fluffy old broads. But, actually, I found them to be highly entertaining. They all found the movie to be way funnier than I did -- making a variety of delighted bird-like sounds during the parts that weren't even meant to be funny.

Granted, I probably would have been annoyed had I actually been watching a really good movie. But since The Pink Panther wasn't exactly the best movie I've seen this year, I found myself paying more and more attention to the Pepper Pots, giving them names (Mabel and Gertrude to the right of us...and Flossie ahead of us, who spent the movie yelling at her husband, Juke, and telling him which parts were funny) and making guesses at who would win if they all started beating one another with their purses. I gave Flossie the award for the Shrillest Voice, and Nettie up front got the award for Most Obnoxious Laugh. It was all great fun.

In fact, this week, I'd have to say that I may have enjoyed the live entertainment even more than I enjoyed the movie.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

I'm Late!

Due to circumstances beyond my control, I'm running seriously behind today -- so this week's installment will be posted tomorrow.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Syriana (2May06)

I meant to change my clothes before leaving for The Cheap Theater this week. I really did. But, as it turns out, that didn't happen. So I ended up leaving for the theater in Cheap Theater Chic -- old jeans, a men's long-sleeve T-shirt that I got on clearance at Old Navy for a buck, my old hiking shoes, and the new hooded sweatshirt (zip-up this time) that I bought so I could occasionally wash my other hooded sweatshirt.

When we walked up to the theater, I found myself standing next to (though, fortunately, not down-wind from) a scruffy man in faded jeans and an old green T-shirt, the neck of which was permanently stretched out after years of being pulled over the man's impressive beer gut. He looked like he decided to protest the inhumane trimming of hair (both head and facial) about a year ago. And he appeared to have last bathed sometime last week.

Suddenly, my Old Navy clearance bin shirt didn't seem so bad.

Then, after we were seated, a couple entered the theater, and the man was wearing a suit. It takes all kinds at The Cheap Theater...

This week, Paul chose the movie. He'd been wanting to see Syriana for a while, and who am I to say no -- especially after I've forced him to sit through movies like Must Love Dogs (which he actually enjoyed, by the way). I really didn't want to see it, but was nominated for Oscars and stuff, so I'd just shut up and deal.

It didn't help, though, that I had a killer migraine -- which is really not a good way to see Syriana. Even if you don't have a headache on the way in, you'll inevitably have one on the way out.

But anyway...we got our tickets and handed them over to be ripped by Derek, my favorite ticket-ripper -- who, I'm pretty sure, recognizes us each week. We really should just introduce ourselves. It would, after all, be the Midwestern thing to do.

We followed a 20-something girl and her grandma to the theater, which had previously been occupied by just one man, who was seated halfway down the aisle. Paul and I headed straight for the back row -- and I was surprised (but only a little bit -- since I'm getting pretty accustomed to Cheap Theater people by now) to see that the two women had sat down right behind the one guy in the theater. Not across the aisle. Not a few rows back. Right behind him. And then they continued their deafeningly loud conversation.

The headache only got worse once the movie started -- though I'm not totally sure if that was because of the confusing storyline or the people around me. Most likely both.

You see, Syriana is a seriously complex movie, with a million characters and almost as many plotlines. You need to be able to concentrate to follow it. This, however, is difficult when the young couple across the aisle won't shut up. Or stop playing with their phones, which light up and blind you in one eye, causing you to have Ally McBeal-like fantasies about stuffing their glowing phones in their constantly-yammering mouths (not that I had those fantasies or anything...). It's also difficult when another couple walks in late, and no matter how hard you bed, "Please don't sit in front of me...please don't sit in front of me..." they sit right in front of you, and they also converse through most of it (though, fortunately, not as much or as loudly as the couple across the aisle).

In fact, everyone talked through this movie (everyone, that is, except for the solitary guy ahead and to the left, who, instead of talking, spent the first half of the movie emphatically munching his popcorn). While it was annoying to have everyone talking -- making it impossible for someone with ADD to focus on the movie, thereby meaning that I barely knew what was going on -- it also made me feel better. It meant that I wasn't the only one who was bored and/or confused.

The couple in front of us gave up halfway through. The couple across the aisle left a few times. My guess is that they left on smoke breaks, since I'm pretty sure I caught the guy flicking his lighter. The first time, I hoped that they'd given up -- so I could go back to trying to figure out what the heck was going on. But, unfortunately, they returned about ten minutes later. Then they left again...and came back again...and left again. For good, finally.

Meanwhile, the guy ahead and to the left had given up on his popcorn and was only slightly paying attention to the movie. Instead, he focused on checking his phone every 30 seconds, filling our little corner of the theater with that eerie glow. He also began emphatically hunting for something in the deepest depths of his nasal cavity.

And then I understood why he was there alone.

Even the Nose Picker gave up before the movie ended. By the time the credits rolled, there was no one within about 15 feet of us. If all those people hadn't been so annoying, I may have taking in personally.

But maybe I'll throw my hoodie in the laundry anyway -- just in case.