Friday, September 14, 2007

Underwater Singing—And Other Screening Catastrophes

New at Since Last Week:
The 11th Hour
In the Shadow of the Moon
The Brothers Solomon
Shoot ‘Em Up

This week was another slow screening week—but it was far from uneventful.

It all started right away on Monday. My husband was once again gone for a few days this week (Dallas this time), so I started the week on my own again. This is not a good thing, but it definitely makes me appreciate my husband even more—because it shows me what a mess my life would be if I didn’t have my structured engineer-type husband to keep things in order. But more on that later.

Anyway, we had a screening of The Brave One scheduled for Monday night. In my planner, I had it written down as 7:30—which meant that I’d be able to go to my kids’ knitting group in the afternoon and still have time to grab dinner at Wendy’s or something and get a little bit of work done before the screening. It’s a good thing that I checked my pass when I left the group at 6, though—because the pass said that the screening was at 7 instead of 7:30. So I dug a smushed SlimFast bar out of my bag (I keep them there for emergencies such as these—which reminds me…I need to restock) and called it dinner. I ate it in the car on the way to the theater, while talking on the phone to my mom…and then my husband…and then my mom… I swear I’m going to get myself killed doing that. But, fortunately, I made it through this week without incident.

I made it to the theater just as Bill was making his way through the parking lot (and right after our pal, Hazel, had made her way inside). Bill had just spent the weekend setting up his new computer—one that we’re all quite sure could launch missiles. I’ll be sure to be extra-nice to him from now on.

You never know what kind of a crowd you’re going to get when you go to a screening. Sometimes, they’re just fine. Sometimes, they’re filled with babies and people who can’t shut up—like Monday’s screening. Personally, I would think that if you’d gotten a free pass to a movie, you might be able to spring for a babysitter for your toddler (And hello! A movie about a woman who goes vigilante and starts shooting people? It’s not exactly a Disney movie, people.). But maybe that’s just me. Still, there were a bunch of babies at the screening—one or two of whom were gone before the first Michael Clayton trailer started (we got to see the trailer twice—but it still didn’t make any of us any more excited to see the movie).

So we were still left with a couple of babies—and one loud, crazy man who was sitting right behind the rather substantial row of critics. The guy felt it was his duty to add his own sound effects and shout out totally random comments at inappropriate times throughout the movie. At first, it was funny. A little bit. And then it just got irritating. At one point, after one totally random outburst, Jason looked at me and said, “Jeez, does this guy have Tourettes, or what?”

Finally, Kevin (who was way down on the other end of the row) had enough. And after yet another random outburst, he responded with, “Dude. You’re not funny.” Fortunately, that shut the guy up—though I was totally waiting for a brawl to break out. And I didn’t walk out into the parking lot with Kevin, either. Just in case.

On Tuesday, I’d been planning on heading to an evening screening of The Game Plan—but it had mysteriously disappeared from our schedule. There weren’t any other screenings scheduled for that night (no screenings on a Tuesday night—very strange). So I was left with a free night. A whole night free. I’m not used to those, and I really had no idea what I’d do with myself. Since my husband was still gone, I ended up working until 7. I would have worked later, actually, but I was getting hungry. (Did I even eat lunch on Tuesday afternoon? I have a feeling Tuesday’s lunch consisted of a cup of coffee…) So I ordered myself a giant bag of Chinese takeout and threw myself down on the couch, got out my chopsticks, and picked out one of the DVDs from the pile on the coffee table. After I finished my General Tso’s chicken and crab rangoons, I went back into the kitchen and cracked open a bottle of wine.

Now, I realize that my night was, by comparison, totally lame. I realize that most women, when faced with a husband-free night, would call up the girls and head to a bar. But (a) all my girls have babies. And (b) I was just too lazy to leave the house (other than to pick up my General Tso’s). I also realize that it’s pretty pathetic that I technically spent my night working. But just wait—it gets worse.

So after I finished my first DVD, I realized that it was only a little after 9. I picked up another screening from my pile and noticed it was only 96 minutes long. So I refilled my wine glass and settled in for a double feature.

Yes, I do realize that I’ve lost my mind.

I was interrupted once by a phone call from my husband in Dallas, after which I got out some ice cream and a spoon and had dessert while watching the end of Movie #2. By the time it ended, it was after 11, so I figured I’d call it a night. Although I usually stay up late and sleep in when I’m home alone, I knew that I needed to get up at the crack of dawn on Thursday—because I needed to be downtown at the station to record the radio show at 8:30—so I figured I’d better stick to a somewhat normal schedule.

The problem, however, was that I couldn’t sleep. Apparently, my brain isn’t used to sitting on the couch all night and then going to bed. It’s used to rushing through dinner, to the theater, through the screening, and then heading back home to take a few notes before hurrying off to bed and willing myself to sleep right now. My brain isn’t used to spending a whole night chilling out. Eventually, I stopped trying. I just got up and worked on a review until 2 and decided to try again. So much for getting to bed early.

Wednesday was, strangely, another free night—one that I once again spent attempting to get to bed on time, to no avail. I must say that Thursday morning’s 6:30 wake-up call came much to early. But I had a show to do, so I got my ass out of bed and grabbed a Coke for the road. The rush hour gods were smiling on me, and I even got to the studio early. I was all crazy and jittery and sleep-deprived, but I somehow made it through our recording. And you can listen to this week’s show at

We made it out of the studio by about 10 and headed straight for the theater for our 11:00 screening. We had more than enough time to grab a cookie and a much-needed coffee. And as we sat and recapped the show, we found out that there was a bit of a glitch with the screening. Apparently, Eastern Promises is at some random aspect ratio that the theater didn’t actually have. Now, you’d think that a movie theater would be able to accommodate all the aspect ratios out there, but I guess you’d be wrong. We were told that they had to use a different lens, and they had to tape it off. So if the heads were cut off a bit, that wasn’t the director’s fault.


To add to the strange aspect-ratio thing, at one point, about a half hour or so into the movie (just when Viggo Mortensen and Vincent Cassel are hitting the brothel), it just cut out. And the lights went up. I started having flashbacks, back to last December, when about 2/3 of the way through The Pursuit of Happyness, the print was suddenly backwards and upside-down. After about an hour or so of sitting around, we got to watch the last part. Fortunately, though, we didn’t have to wait a whole hour this time—but we did get to sit and chat for a while before seeing the rest of the movie.

And it was more of the same today. When I was on the way to the screening, I got a call from David, who told me that the parking lot was already full, and he was driving around the streets, trying to find a spot. Now, it’s bad enough when there aren’t any spots left in the lot, but that happens often, since there are only about 20 spots to begin with. But now they’re doing work on the streets around the theater, too, so the street spots aren’t available, either. It means that we have to walk three or four blocks from our car to the theater. I’m all for exercise and all (and I realize that I should probably get a little more of it), but I really don’t want it forced upon me—especially not when I was running a bit behind to begin with, and it’s only ten minutes until the screening’s supposed to start. It’s a good thing morning screenings never start on time—because I still had enough time to down a cookie and grab some coffee before the screening started.

Today was Across the Universe, the Julie Taymor movie with all the Beatles songs. Now, if you were to think of the worst thing that could go wrong during a screening of a musical, what would that be? If you guessed “sound problems,” you’d be right—and that’s exactly what we got. At one point, most likely at the beginning of a new reel, the sound went all weird. Remember back in the days of cassette tapes, when the sound would go all wonky right before the player ate the tape? That’s what it sounded like—for about a third of the movie. Once the first wonky song began, Jason quipped, “Are they singing under water?” But that’s exactly what it sounded like. One of the guys even got up to complain, but it didn’t do any good. It was seriously annoying—and it caused much grumbling from the crowd of critics. For me, the worst of it was that it destroyed Bono’s song. And I love Bono. Screwing with Bono is just not right.

Okay. So clearly this week wasn’t the best of weeks for screenings. But hey—you win some, you lose some. I’m just going to cross my fingers and hope that next week is good enough to make up for this week.

Stay tuned to find out…

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