Friday, July 13, 2007

Christmas in July

New Reviews at Since Last Time:
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
The Curiosity of Chance

With all the screenings this week, it was starting to feel like December all over again. I didn’t miss much over the week I was out of town, but I didn’t have much time to ease my way back into work once I got home—because I had to head to the first screening of the week on Monday morning. Monday morning screenings are always a pain—but it’s even worse when you spent most of Sunday stuck in holiday traffic.

Despite the fact that I hadn’t gotten in until 10 on Sunday night—and the suitcases were still strewn around the house (actually…most of them still are)—I got some work done first thing in the morning, and I was waiting at the theater for the 11:00 screening of Rescue Dawn. After a week of sleeping in, Monday morning hit pretty hard, and I felt like the walking dead by the time I made it to the theater. And I wasn’t exactly thrilled by the prospect of watching a long war drama when it would have been nice to still be in bed. But, well, at least I had a good tan.

I didn’t have much time to work on Monday—which is never good on the first day after vacation. But that’s just the way it goes sometimes. I had an hour to eat while working before I had to head out to my Monday afternoon kids’ knitting group, at which time I needed to muster up the patience to teach two kids to knit. That was no small task—but I pulled it off without my head exploding, so I guess that’s a good thing.

As soon as the clock hit 6, I was running out the door on my way to the Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix screening. My husband was meeting me there, and I wanted to be sure to get there on time—because I had a bad feeling about it.

You see, typically, we get passes for evening screenings—but even if we happen to forget our pass, we don’t usually have a problem getting in, since all the reps know who we are (okay…sometimes they need a little reminding, but they tend to be pretty good about it). Usually, though, everything runs pretty smoothly. But I’d heard that there might be a problem on Monday night. Through a few emails that morning, I’d learned that they weren’t supposed to let anyone in without a pass—not even press. And I didn’t have a pass. As is usually the case when I don’t have a pass, I emailed the rep in charge of the screening in the morning to ask if it would be okay to go anyway. She emailed right back, letting me know that it wouldn’t be a problem at all—and she’d let the people handling the screening know I’d be there.

When I got there, though, the fact that I didn’t have a pass set off the flashing red lights—even though the reps knew who I was (or at least they recognized me—kinda). So one of them ran to get his list to double check. And, for some reason, I wasn’t on the list. He stood there for a minute, trying to figure out what to do, and then he finally said, “Just go on in. Don’t worry about it.”


When we finally got inside, Bill was there, waiting for us. Despite the fact that he actually did have a pass, he had his share of trials getting in, too. When he got there, he was told that they weren’t reserving seats for press, so he’d have to get in line.

Um…we don’t wait in lines.

It’s a little joke among critics—but it’s true. We never wait in lines. Except, perhaps, at McDonald’s. We still don’t like it, of course, but there’s really nothing we can do about that. Screenings, though—that’s a different story. If we’re there to work, we don’t want to have to fight with everyone else to get a seat—especially not if they’re rabid Harry Potter fans.

Fortunately, though, they made an exception for Bill, too, and we both managed to get in. We even got seats. We were, however, right next to one of those rabid Harry Potter fans—who, while (fortunately) not dressed up as a witch, practically clawed the guy next to her to get a T-shirt when one of the sponsors was doing a giveaway. I’m not exactly sure how she plans on fitting the medium-sized T-shirt on her XXL frame, but she was very proud of her shirt—and she showed it off to anyone who would listen. And if they wouldn’t listen, she’d beat on them until they did. So it was just best to listen.

Despite my excitement to see the new Harry Potter movie, I was really disappointed by the movie. It just wasn’t as magical as some of the others have been—and, well, there just wasn’t nearly enough of Alan Rickman. Since regular screenwriter Steve Kloves is returning for the next movie, I’m hoping the next one will be better. And, well, the new book comes out in a matter of days, so no worries.

But David totally agreed with my Harry Potter disappointment—and it ended up being one of the main topics of conversation on Tuesday night as we ate our dollar burgers before the Hairspray screening. Then we rushed off to get some seats. After Monday night, well, I guess you just never know… But, fortunately, they let us in—no matter how shifty we looked.

Before the screening started, birthday-boy Clay came up to announce that he’d gotten a phone call to say that the screening was actually just for him—and that the rest of us needed to go home. But Clay, being the sweet and generous old guy that he is, finally gave in and let us all join him for his private screening. He’s a really nice guy, that Clay.

As for the movie itself, Hairspray was a ton of fun. At one point, Jason was doubled up and laughing so hard that I was a little bit worried about him. But Christopher Walken tends to do that to people. Or at least he does it to us. And when it was all over, I was almost entirely over my Harry-Potter-induced funk. Not totally, mind you. But it helped.

On Wednesday, we didn’t have a single screening planned—Thursday, either, in fact—and I was looking forward to finally getting some time to get caught up from my week off. I could write a few reviews, watch a DVD or two, and maybe even do some unpacking. At night, I ended up multi-tasking a bit. Instead of going to my husband’s hockey game, I sat down on the recumbent bike and got in a light, 110-minute workout while checking a DVD off my list.

Unfortunately, my light workout was still, apparently, heavy enough to keep me awake all night. And I’d gotten an email Wednesday afternoon, announcing that there was a last-minute screening scheduled for Thursday morning, so I had to drink extra amounts of coffee on Thursday morning—just so I’d be able to keep my eyes open.

To make things just a little, teeny-tiny bit crazier, when I left for the theater on Thursday morning, my parents were already on their way here. You see, even before we moved away from Massachusetts, we started planning for a garage sale. That was about three years ago—and my husband had finally had it. Since I’d never actually had a garage sale before, I begged my mother, a certified garage sale expert, to give me a hand. And this weekend was the only one that worked for all of us. So, despite the fact that it’s July, my second-craziest month of the year—and despite the fact that I still hadn’t had time to unpack (or sleep) since I got back from vacation)—I also had to figure out a way to pull off a garage sale without having a complete nervous breakdown.

When I arrived at the theater on Thursday morning, things were pretty dead. The coffee wasn’t out, and there weren’t critics mulling about, as usual. Mark was the only other one there—and we were a little worried that, while we knew about the screening, perhaps the theater didn’t. But, in the end, everything worked out. The print was there and ready to go, and we even got our coffee before sitting down to watch silly teen slasher flick All the Boys Love Mandy Lane. The movie has since been put on hold indefinitely, so we’ll see if I’ll ever be able to use that review that I scrambled to write after I got home.

On Thursday night, Mom and Dad showed up and got right to work, helping us set up our garage sale. Actually, they had to—since all of our garage sale stuff had taken over our family room / guest room in the basement. And if they wanted somewhere to sleep, they’d have to get to work. We somehow managed to get everything just about ready to go before crashing—and Mom announced that we’d be having the sale on Friday, too. This created a bit of a dilemma for me, since I had another screening on Friday morning—and it was one that I really needed to attend. But Mom was determined—and, well, she really didn’t care if I was there or not. So, just as I suspected, as soon as I jumped in the car and headed for the theater, the garage doors were open. And just as soon as I got out of the screening and jumped back in my car, I called Mom to find out that tons of stuff had already been cleared out. The old couch that I’ve been dragging with me from state to state is finally gone, as is our old bedroom furniture and some other junk. After I got back, I tried to help out for a while, but apparently my presence was driving people away—because no one came while I was sitting there, but as soon as I walked away, everybody came back. So Mom told me to just go inside and get some work done. So here I am.

I figure I should be almost caught up on reviews—and nowhere near caught up on DVDs—by the time Monday rolls around. And then it’s time to start it all over again. We’ve got two screenings scheduled for Tuesday, as well as about 40 scheduled for Thursday (okay…six—but it could just as well be 40). I’ve also got to hit the studio on Thursday morning, to record the show with John, since Clay has run off to the mountains for the week. So it’ll be another busy one for me. But at least I’ll sleep well this weekend, knowing that my old couch is finally gone for good.

This Week’s Film Critic Discussion Topic:

The Rule of Comedies. Next week, we’ll be screening I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry, the Adam Sandler / Kevin James comedy. It clocks in at a ridiculous 140 minutes—which, we believe, breaks commits one of the cardinal sins of comedies. After all, even the funniest of jokes get old if you keep telling them over and over. But we’ll just have to wait until next week to see if Sandler and James manage to pull this one off.

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