Friday, May 11, 2007

The Calm Before the Storm

New Reviews on Since Last Week:
The Ex
Black Book (Zwartboek)
Lucky You

I know that the Summer Blockbuster Storm is coming. I can feel it. It’s like a shadow, hanging over my shoulder. I remember last summer. It was insane. And it’s looming in the not-so-distant future. But for the next couple of weeks…nothing. This week, there were four scheduled—though I only went to three. Next week, one. The week after that, we’ll have two (though only one has been scheduled so far). I figure I’ll try to take that opportunity to get nearly caught up on things. Wouldn’t that be fun?

This week started with a Monday noon screening. In case I haven’t mentioned it before, I hate Monday screenings. I’m busy on Monday. I always have a humdinger of a to-do list on Monday. And Monday screenings don’t help my stress levels. This week, we actually had two Monday screenings scheduled—one at noon, and another at 7. And I knew that there was no way I’d pull them both off. At least the noon screening gave me an extra hour in the morning, but screenings from 12-2 and 7-9? I don’t think so. That pretty much would have meant loading up my car at 11, going from the screening to a coffee shop for a while until I headed over to my afternoon kids’ knitting group from 4-6, and then eating a SlimFast bar for dinner in the car on the way to the other screening. So I just went to see The Ex at noon and called it a day.

For some reason, there were members of the public invited to our noon screening. Only about six actually came, two of whom sat right behind me. Halfway through the movie, the girl behind me couldn’t stay quiet any longer. I don’t know if she was having a one-sided conversation with her companion or if she decided to make a mid-movie emergency call to a friend, but at one point in her conversation, I heard her say—in the loudest whisper possible—“I can’t hear you!”

Um, but the whole theater can hear you, sweetheart. Take it outside.

Other than Chatty Cathy behind us, though, the movie was generally amusing. And it ended with a fabulous Kevin Carr Ending (meaning that someone—usually an irritating character—is blown up, hit by a bus, or subjected to something equally nasty), so we all walked out feeling cheery.

Speaking of Kevin Carr Endings, 28 Weeks Later couldn’t be more jam-packed with them. In fact, pretty much everyone in that movie comes to some kind of a Kevin Carr Ending—usually in the bloodiest, most gruesome of ways, involving eyeball poking and/or blood vomiting. And that’s what we saw on Tuesday night. After it was over, a group of us stood in the theater, discussing our reactions.

One of the guys said, “I’m not quite sure how I feel about that.”

My reaction: “I think I need to go home and throw up now.”

These are the difficult times for a film critic. 28 Weeks Later isn’t necessarily my kind of movie. I can handle a little gore—but a whole movie full of it can get to be a little much for me. There were times when I had to close my eyes for a couple of seconds, just to settle my stomach. So the Going-To-Movies-For-Fun me probably wouldn’t have been all that thrilled walking out of that movie. But the Film-Critic me had to take a step back and forget about my own personal tastes (and my own personal weak stomach) for a while—to appreciate that 28 Weeks Later, despite the unpleasant feeling it caused in my stomach, is actually pretty good. For the gory zombie flick that it is, it’s actually quite good. So while my stomach may not have liked it, my head thought it wasn’t all that bad.

But enough about zombies. Let’s talk about feisty old guys. On Thursday, I once again got to meet up with two of my favorite feisty old guys, John and Clay, and play guest critic on their radio show, It’s Movie Time. This week, though, I had to be there early—because they were taking promo photos for IMT and their upcoming show, Movie Time Classics, and they had graciously asked me to be a part of the picture, as an occasional part of their team.

Since I’m a girl, I spent the whole week fretting about what I’d wear. John is a tux kind of guy (though Clay told him he wasn’t allowed to pull out the tux this time), and Clay is not. I asked John what to wear, and he suggested, in great detail, an outfit involving a black pantsuit and a flowing white blouse. The thing is, I’m a film critic, and I work from home. Thus, my wardrobe does not include a pantsuit. Or even anything that could be referred to as a blouse. I went on a shopping trip on Wednesday and came back empty-handed and panicky, knowing that the black dress that John had approved would end up with Clay spending the next year harping about “Kristin and her fancy dress” right along with “John and his tux.” So, in the end, I brought my entire closet. I wore whatever I had on that morning, which ended up being white capris and the white tank I’d thrown on while doing my hair (a phrase that I use in the lightest sense, though it did involve pulling out the hairspray from the very back of my bathroom cupboard). And I packed a bag that included a blue T-shirt, for use during recording (since I know better than to expose any cleavage—again, a term I use in the loosest sense—for too long around Clay), the black dress, and a black button-down shirt, as I thought we were doing a black theme. I was wrong. We were doing no theme. As is often the case, I totally over-thought this one, and, in the end, was told, “Just wear what you’ve got on.” So I did, for better or for worse.

After the photo shoot (which produced a couple of great shots), we headed into the studio—so Clay could sit back and laugh his deep Santa-Claus laugh while John and I messed with each other on air. And good times were had by all. You can head over and give it a listen at

While I wasn’t necessarily planning on going to this morning’s screening of Away From Her, John and Clay kept telling me how wonderful it was going to be. And I fell for it—despite the fact that watching a movie about someone progressing through the stages of Alzheimer’s isn’t exactly an easy thing for someone who watched a loved-one struggle with it for years. Not exactly a cheery way to spend a warm, sunny Friday morning—especially a warm, sunny Friday morning on which one has awoken with some nasty allergies. So when I got to the theater and saw that the tiny parking lot was full, I came close to seeing it as a sign. I almost turned around and drove back home. But I didn’t. I went. And it was a rough couple of hours—mostly because the movie is so real—but I made through. And I got to see an incredible performance by Julie Christie, so that was good, too.

And now, I get to take a little break from theaters. Next week is just Shrek. But, since we’ve all been dreading it for months, I’m sure it’ll be worth a few good stories on Friday…

This Week’s Film Critic Discussion Topics:

- Spider-Man, and how it totally didn’t deserve to make $150 million in one weekend. We’re all wondering how much those numbers will drop off this weekend, after people realize that it isn’t really that great. Jason, however, isn’t complaining, since it was his draft pick.

- Kevin was also quite proud to point out that the $2 million that Lucky You pulled in put him in second place in this season’s competition.

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