Friday, October 05, 2007

Cutting Out…And Catching Up

New at Since Last Week:
The Seeker: The Dark is Rising
Across the Universe
The Jane Austen Book Club

This week, I ended up skipping more screenings than I attended.

Of course, that wasn’t my intention. I fully intended to go to all kinds of screenings this week—especially since I’ll be out of town for a couple of days, and I need to keep my schedule nice and full. But, well, sometimes other things happen.

The first screening of the week (to continue our Morning Screening Marathon) was on Monday morning: Rocket Science. I fully intended to see it. Really. But it was Monday morning—and Mondays are always crazy-busy for me. And I really, really, really didn’t want to leave the office. So, at 10:00, as I stood in front of the bathroom mirror, getting ready to leave, I talked myself out of going. You don’t need this to fill your schedule, I told myself. The rest of the week was filled with either award hopefuls or big weekend releases—and, I’m afraid, in the craziness of this week’s schedule, the little-known indie lost out. Usually, I’m a big fan of indies—and I do all I can to help promote them a bit—but I just didn’t have the time this week.

Instead, I stayed in the office and edited an entire week’s worth of book reviews. I also finished a couple of reviews. And as I worked, the emails kept pouring in, scheduling more screenings for the week. In fact, by the time the day was over, we had the entire week packed with morning screenings. So I didn’t feel too bad about skipping one.

And when I got an email from David, telling me that Jason had hated the movie so much that he refused to write a review, I was ecstatic. Ha! I could have been sitting in a theater for most of the day, wasting my time—but I stayed back and actually got stuff done instead. Yea for me!

Tuesday morning, I headed to campus to see The Seeker: The Dark is Rising. Despite the scoffing of the various fanboys in our midst, I actually kinda liked it. Or at least I liked it enough that I didn’t regret showing up.

Afterwards, John and I went across the street to our new favorite smoothie place. John got some random juice that involved celery and beets (this coming from the guy who, last time we were there, was so afraid of ordering orange/carrot juice, that he asked the girl behind the counter if anyone had ever thrown up). I, on the other hand, got the best smoothie ever—strawberry, orange, peach, and watermelon. My only mistake was the extra boost of ginseng that I had them add—which almost killed me later that afternoon. (Note to self: no more ginseng smoothies.)

Wednesday, however, was not such a good day. Wednesday was a bonehead day. On Wednesday, there was a morning screening of Into the Wild on the schedule—it was one that was scheduled on Monday afternoon. I was totally excited to see it—mostly because some of my favorite musicians used to perform a song about Christopher McCandless.

Despite it being another busy morning, I made my way across town. I got a parking spot (yea!), though I was a little worried to see that I didn’t recognize any other cars there. I got inside and found the door locked—and no one was hanging out in the café next door, either. Needless to say, that freaked me out just a little bit. After a while, I ran into another critic, who was just as confused as I was. We stood around for a while and finally left in a huff, thinking that the screening had been cancelled and no one had bothered to let us know.

But I had a bad feeling about it. I checked my planner again—as I had before I left the office—and it told me that I was where I was supposed to be. Of course, there was one other possibility—which turned out to be the case. Apparently, I’d been so flustered on Monday afternoon that I’d failed to write down the correct location of the screening. So while everyone else was sitting at the theater on campus, enjoying the movie (or not, as I later discovered from Jason—who ended up sending emails through most of the screening), I was driving around the city in a very foul mood.

In all of my crankiness, I returned to my office, determined to make up for the missed screening. And I cranked out a movie review and two book reviews that afternoon. And I felt a little bit better.

That night, there was another screening on the schedule. Actually, two—both for The Heartbreak Kid. One (the one that Bill and I had passes for) was downtown. The other was at our very favorite, much-closer-to-home theater. So Bill and I decided to get into our favorite theater by acting like we knew exactly what we were doing. And it worked. I got there as the crowd was still waiting, and the reps sent me right in. They told me that Bill was already there, but as I walked into the gigantic theater—which was still in full darkness—I couldn’t see anybody in the theater. But then I saw a head pop up from our usual part of the theater. Bill.

I took my seat, and we got caught up on all the latest critic gossip. I told him about my bonehead move of the morning, though he really didn’t feel too bad for me, since his day job keeps him from morning screenings. But he assured me that he’s not too worried about missing them—and I shouldn’t be, either—because with award season warming up, that means that the “For Your Consideration” screeners will start showing up any day now. Hopefully that means we’ll get to watch the screeners of all the stuff we’ve been missing.

After enduring Dane Cook’s Good Luck Chuck a couple of weeks ago, Bill and I were a little bit nervous about the Farrelly Brothers’ latest. But, actually, The Heartbreak Kid made me laugh. In fact, I laughed so much that I felt a little bit guilty. I actually stopped at one point and thought, Hold on…this is actually really funny! And that’s probably when I jinxed it. After that, Ben Stiller turned back into Crazy Ben Stiller, and the story completely drove off the rails. But, hey. It was nice while it lasted.

On Thursday morning, I actually showed up at the right place, at the right time, for the screening of Michael Clayton. In fact, I was just driving around the neighborhood, trying to find a parking space (since the lot was empty) when I got a call from David.

“I’m in the right place, right?” he asked. Apparently, my recent mental breakdown—and the fact that he got to the screening before John did—made him a little nervous. But I assured him that I was in the area—and as soon as I made the mile-long walk from my car, I’d be there.

As the usual gang gathered for the screening, the big topic of the morning was, “So…are you going to the screening tomorrow?” The Friday morning screening this week was Lust, Caution, Ang Lee’s porno-art film. Earlier in the week, I was totally planning to go—just out of curiosity. But then I found out that it’s 2 hours and 40 minutes long—and I changed my mind. But I wasn’t the only one. It turned out that only Neil was determined to show up. The rest of us were going with the old, “I’ll watch it when we get the screener” excuse.

After Thursday morning’s so-so movie, a bunch of us stood around and had the discussion that we critics tend to start having an awful lot around this time of the year: the year-end discussion. It started as we were all discussing how underwhelmed we were by Michael Clayton (I, for one, had to fight to stay awake—though it could have something to do with the fact that I hadn’t had any caffeine, since I was trying to detox, following the Ginseng Smoothie Debacle). That’s when David pointed out, “You know, I don’t even have enough to come up with a decent top 10 list for this year.”

“Well,” Jason pointed out, “your top 10 is your top 10.”

“Yeah, but there’s stuff on there that I don’t feel deserves to be on there,” David explained.

And with that, we all started discussing the movies of worth that have come out so far this year. The list was pretty slim. So far, we agreed on The King of Kong and Hot Fuzz. Jason mentioned The Kingdom, and our resident fanboy Neil mentioned Transformers, which made the rest of us laugh just a little bit. After that, it was pretty thin. Of course, we’ve still got almost three months until the end of the year, but it’s not looking good right now. None of the movies getting the biggest Oscar hype have really blown us away. There are 12 more Fridays to go before the end of the year. There could be something mind-blowing in there. I hope so.

I had another screening planned for Thursday night: Dan in Real Life. But, to be perfectly honest, despite the fact that I’d been skipping/missing screenings left and right all week, I had to agree with Jason. I was feeling burnt out. And as I scarfed down another dinner and rushed toward the door, my husband (who is brilliant) stopped me and said, “Are you sure you really want to go tonight? You look kinda frantic.”

And he was right. What I really needed was a night to sit on my butt and watch TV. I needed to go for a walk and enjoy Al Gore’s Global Warming. I needed to crack open a Woodchuck and drink to America’s Next Top Model. And that’s exactly what I did.

So far, next week is a quiet week. The only morning screening on the schedule is on Thursday—when I’ll be out of town. The only thing I’ll be in town for is on Tuesday night. But, then again, it’s only 2:00. That leaves plenty of time for the reps to schedule screenings for Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday morning—and it wouldn’t surprise me at all.

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