Friday, October 19, 2007

Alone in the Dark with Strangers

New at Since Last Week:
Gone Baby Gone
Elizabeth: The Golden Age

Before I begin with the usual, I’d like to note that is sponsoring a screening of Martian Child this coming Wednesday (the 24th) at the AMC Lennox in Columbus—and we’ve got free passes. If you’re in the Columbus area and you want to see a movie for free, just visit N& for details.

Okay…let’s get on with it then.

This week was one crazy week. Thanks to our ridiculously damp and musty hotel room in Dallas, I was one sick puppy by Friday afternoon. Fortunately, I did get some work done, but not a ton—and I probably wasn’t much fun on Saturday, our one day to wander around the city.

So when we got home on Sunday night, I was beat. Unfortunately, I had one crazy week ahead of me—and I didn’t have time to curl up in a ball and just be sick for a couple of days. I had stuff to do—the most important of which was preparing for another radio appearance on Wednesday morning, to fill in for Clay, who was recovering quite nicely from the surgery he’d had on Friday. As it turned out, the morning that I drove to the wrong theater for the Into the Wild screening came back to bite me in the butt. I also missed the Darjeeling Limited screening while I was in Dallas. So that meant I had some catch-up to play.

Despite the fact that I usually hate Monday morning screenings—especially on Monday mornings after I’ve just gotten back from being out of town—I was relieved to find out that there was a screening of The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford scheduled for Monday morning. That meant that I could check out Jesse James in the morning—and come back to write up my review in the afternoon. Theoretically.

Of course, it didn’t occur to me at the time that Jesse James was a ridiculous two hours and forty minutes long (something that I’ve been generally bitching about all week—so I’ll refrain from continuing my rant here). Fortunately, I had some good drugs, which kept me from hacking up a lung during the movie. But, despite the fact that it was the Non-Drowsy variety, it didn’t really help all that much when it came to keeping me awake. I think I managed to stay awake through the whole thing, but it was a battle. Kevin admitted afterwards that he slept through parts. He also got up at one point to get his coat (because it was freezing in the theater—which probably helped to keep me awake). Then he wandered around for a while…stopped in the bathroom…wandered around the parking lot…and came back. Chris, who was sitting next to him, leaned over to try to tell him what he missed, and Kevin replied, “You know what? I don’t even care.”

At one point, David raced out to the bathroom, too. See? That’s the problem with movies like this one. You need the coffee to get through them, but they’re so long that you can’t have the coffee—or else you won’t get to see the whole thing. It’s a Catch-22. Anyway…David came back in and asked Jason and me if he’d missed anything, and we just sighed and said, “Nope.” Probably, he just missed more long, lingering shots of snow on the prairie.

After Jesse James, I had planned on catching screenings on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday nights. But that didn’t happen. Monday night was Rendition. And, well, I just didn’t feel like sitting through it. And I had an excuse—I was sick. So I stayed home and went to bed early instead.

On Tuesday, I had three options: Into the Wild, Things We Lost in the Fire, and 30 Days of Night (which I’d been planning on seeing). But, once again, I skipped. I played the Sick card again—especially since I had to be up by 6:30 on Wednesday morning, so I could get to the studio by 8:30.

Fortunately, though, I was prepared on Wednesday morning. I managed to crank out some reviews, and I was heavily drugged. I couldn’t guarantee that I was going to make it cough-free through the whole recording, but I hoped I would. The last thing I needed was to sniffle through the show. I packed my bag with Kleenex and cough drops, just in case.

Despite the crazy rush-hour traffic, I made it to the station at 8:30—just before John. We walked in together, found our usual spot in the back of the building, and did a little rehearsing. At around 9, we hit the studio. We were eventually joined by Clay, our director, who had accidentally over-slept (but I’ll let it slide this time, since he just had surgery and all…).

Since the last time I was in the studio, there’s been a software change—so it took a little while to get everything set up. Then it was time for the recording to begin. After a couple of false starts, our final recording went rather smoothly—except for the part when John suddenly realized he’d lost some of his notes. It resulted in a little bit of paper-rustling (to be cut out later), during which time I was able to get in a few good, solid coughs. So I’m glad John lost his notes—because it helped me make it through the show.

Due to the whole new-software issue, this week’s recording session took longer than usual. Typically, we’re there from 8:30 to about 10. This time, it was closer to 11:30. During that time I found myself either squinting at the computer with John or laughing with Clay while John continued to squint at the computer by himself. But we finally get everything figured out—and we have a show:

After we were finished in the studio, I went home and crashed on the couch for a while. But I couldn’t rest for too long—because I had a screening that night. Wednesday night was Lars and the Real Girl—and a flurry of emails in the afternoon showed that I was, most likely, the only one going. Not even my husband was joining me—since Wednesday is Hockey Night.

Despite the fact that it’s my job to watch movies—to go to the theater, take my seat, and take it all in with a critical eye, paying attention to writing and performances and things like that—it’s still strange to go to a movie alone. Before I started going to screenings, I used to do it every once in a while, when my husband was out of town. But it felt strange. And it still does. Even now, when I go to a screening, there’s always someone else there. My colleagues are my friends—and there are a bunch of them—so there’s always someone to sit with, someone to talk to before the movie starts, someone to whisper snide comments to during the movie, someone to share the experience with. But on Wednesday, it was just me. I hung out in the lobby by myself. I walked into the theater and took a seat near the back (so I could run out in case of one of those coughing fits I’d been having lately) by myself. As the crowd made their way in and climbed over me, the noise levels rose. And I pulled out my planner and wrote some notes, studied my schedule, copied my to-do list.

When you think about it, going to a movie shouldn’t really be a social thing. You sit there in the dark, paying attention to what’s going on on-screen. You’re not talking to the people around you. It should be something you do by yourself, don’t you think? But it isn’t, usually. People like to have friends around them as they wait. And people like to have someone to share the experience with. Even though we’re not conversing together in the dark, we’re communing.

This time, it was just me. Alone. In the dark. With strangers.

The screening was at the old theater in the rich part of town—the one with the chatty old moviegoers. Lots of pepperpots. And this time was no different from the others. Even when the movie started playing, the crowd chattered on, barely noticing. And there were frequent exclamations pop-corning up throughout the theater during the movie. And I didn’t have anyone to snicker about it with me. But, hey… Sometimes that just goes with the job. And though it was a little strange, don’t worry…I did okay. I didn’t feel sad or lonely. I didn’t cry. And I actually enjoyed the movie. So it was all good.

On Thursday morning, I was back to the theater for a last-minute morning screening of Wristcutters: A Love Story. We’d found out late on Wednesday afternoon. I almost didn’t go—but I figured it was my penance for skipping two evening screenings that week. And besides, it fit into my schedule. And, most importantly, it was short. So I went.

It was quiet at the theater on Thursday morning. I was the second one there, and only two showed up after I did. Oh, well. More cookies for me, I guess. Though it doesn’t feel quite as strange sitting by myself for morning screenings, I was glad to have Jason there with me. Because after Wednesday night, it was nice to have someone to talk shop with—and someone to giggle with during the movie. It made me feel better.

On Thursday night, it was another almost-lonely night at the movies. This time, my husband went along—but everyone else seemed to have some excuse. Most of them had already seen The Darjeeling Limited while we were in Dallas. And those who hadn’t were at home watching baseball. So it was another strange night. Usually, for evening screenings, we reserve our row. There are usually at least a few of us there. So showing up for a screening with just the two of us—and having to find seats for just the two of us—was weird. It’s not that I don’t like hanging out with my husband or anything, but I haven’t seen the rest of the guys in ages, and I actually kinda miss them a little bit.

Not only that, but I was also eager to wish the guys a Happy Awards Season. On Thursday afternoon, the first of the award screeners showed up in my mailbox—followed closely by another one today. This means that the insanity has officially begun. It’s time to set aside the remaining screeners from last awards season—the few that I didn’t get the time to see, though I really did intend to—to make way for this season’s screeners. Hopefully, something good is on its way—because our top-ten lists are still pretty sparse.

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