Friday, April 13, 2007

Playing Catch-Up

New Movies at Since Last Time:
Are We Done Yet?
The Hoax
Blades of Glory
The Lookout
Meet the Robinsons
Reign Over Me
The Host (Gwoemul)

Time flies when you’re insanely busy. First, there was the film festival. Then my husband left town on business and my parents showed up to keep me company—and they ended up staying for a whole week. This Friday is the first one in weeks that I’ve spent at my desk, relatively uninterrupted.

First, let’s talk about the film festival. I would have written about it while I was there, but my computer decided against it. I was lucky if I could keep it running long enough to check my email.

Anyway…in the four days I spent in Cleveland, I managed to fit in 14 movies. I’d set myself up with a tentative schedule before I left, and I’d been planning on more than 14, actually. But then I realized that I wasn’t as much of a glutton for punishment as I’d previously thought.

When you’ve got something like 120 films to consider, preparing for a film festival is a daunting experience. So I quickly worked out a system. I began by flipping through the program and figuring out which films were screening during my four days. Then I read the descriptions. If a movie was supposed to be “important” or “moving” or “political” in any way, I eliminated them. Because, really, who can sit through four whole days of watching nothing but serious, important dramas? Not me. I left the documentaries about Checnia for my colleagues, and I was a lot happier for it.

On Thursday morning, John picked me up at 8, and we headed north. We compared lists and made plans for happy hour breaks. Then, once we arrived and unloaded our bags at our respective hotels, we headed for the theater, where we almost immediately met up with Mark—and, later, Clay. My experience at the festival got off to an excellent start, with Brook Silva-Braga’s A Map for Saturday. After Movie #1, Mark and I made a run for the bathrooms and headed back for Movie #2, after which we hit the food court. We were still munching on our fries when we realized that Movie #3 was starting in just 15 minutes—but we were already exhausted (not to mention suffering from some bizarre tunnel vision), so we decided to skip it. And it was best that way. By the time I checked into my hotel, after midnight (after Movie #3 and Movie #4, which was the longest, most painful movie I’ve ever forced myself to sit through), I was beat. And I had to take some notes before collapsing into bed and getting up to start the whole thing again.

In general, my selection process worked out well. Of those 14, there were only a handful that I didn’t really like. And though I went home with blood-shot eyes, feeling like I’d been hit by a bus, I can’t wait for next year.

For a little more on my experience, see “Confessions from a Film Festival.”

The week after Cleveland was notable only for being a week on High Baby Alert. David’s wife, Deb, was due any second. In fact, I checked my phone between screenings at Cleveland, just in case. Deb made us all a little nervous by showing up for the screenings of both Meet the Robinsons and Blades of Glory. We were all prepared to hop in our cars and rush to the hospital, if need be. But, fortunately, Garrett James Medsker waited until Friday night to make is entrance.

The next week was pretty quiet, screening-wise, since Mom and Dad were in town. I’m pretty sure every last critic in town headed over to the Grindhouse screening. But I figured I’d take Dad to see Are We Done Yet? instead, since Mom would probably disown me if I let Dad see Grindhouse. But we had fun at AWDY? instead. And apparently I’m supposed to feel ashamed of myself for not hating it.

On Friday afternoon, I left Mom and Dad at home and met up with Mark for Grindhouse. Since we went to an on-campus theater, we expected the Friday afternoon showing to be pretty full—but we were wrong. As we unpacked the homemade cookies and Cheese Nips that we’d brought along for the [very long] show, we couldn’t help but notice that I was the only woman there. A friend tells me that Rosario Dawson and Robert Rodriguez appeared on The View to let women know that Grindhouse may be a bit of a guy movie, but it’s also a girl movie, too—since the chicks all kick ass. And that made me laugh. Nice try, guys.

Though it was wonderful to have Mom and Dad in town for the week, I was pretty exhausted by Monday morning—which is why I chose to skip the screening of David Lynch’s latest long and inevitably perplexing Inland Empire. I was planning on heading to First Snow at night, but I had my kids’ knitting group on Monday afternoon, and two hours of pre-teen girls telling blonde jokes was enough for me. So I went home and mixed myself a gin and tonic instead.

Tuesday evening’s screening of Disturbia was, according to our screening grid, to be followed by Wednesday morning’s screening of In the Land of Women. As is always the case, I rushed around on Wednesday morning, got myself ready, and rushed out the door by about 10:20. When I showed up at the theater, I got bad news: the print hadn’t arrived. Nine of us had driven in from various parts of the city—most of us from far away—and why no one had thought to let us know that there wouldn’t be a screening, I’ll never know. In fact, one of the guys called the theater before leaving, just to check, and they told him to come on down.

Since Mark had baked muffins, we all hung around and ate for a while before heading going our separate ways. By the time I got back, I’d wasted an hour and a half of my precious work time.

So on Thursday morning, we tried again. The reps assured us that the print was there—and we’d actually get to see the movie—and, fortunately, they were right. But those of us who decided to try again were, understandably, all a little cranky when we showed up.

When I got there, I announced that I was skipping Thursday night’s screening of Perfect Stranger—because not only was I tired and overloaded, but every single critic who had already seen it had, for some reason, hated it. But Mark talked me into going anyway—since, due to the ongoing baby boom, his co-host’s wife is pregnant, and she’s been placed on bed rest for the remainder, so Mark wasn’t sure if he’d need a substitute. So after consuming more caffeine than can possibly be healthy yesterday afternoon, I made my way out to the movies once again. And now I know why everyone else hated it. I can’t remember the last time I laughed so hard at the end of a movie.

Next week is already looking like another busy one, but it’s starting on a positive note—with Hot Fuzz on Monday. I’ve been looking forward to it for a while now, so I shouldn’t have too much of a problem dragging myself across town for the screening. We’ve got more screenings Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday night (one or two of which I might skip), and then the Deep Focus Film Festival starts on Thursday night. If you happen to be in the area, be sure to stop in at the Grand and check it out.

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