Friday, November 02, 2007

Pay Off

New at Since Last Week:
Martian Child
Reservation Road

For weeks, the COFCA regulars have been buzzing about American Gangster. Despite the whole A Good Year mess last year (which, from this time forward, I shall stop mentioning when talking about Russell Crowe and Ridley Scott), we were all pretty psyched to see the two of them together—with the added Denzel Washington bonus. Colin saw it before the rest of us, and he was thrilled, which only added to our general excitement. And finally, on Tuesday night, it was time for the screening.

The big dilemma of the week was the fact that the only screening of American Gangster was playing at the same time as the only screening of Bee Movie, which meant we had to choose between the two. For me, it wasn’t much of a decision—but it was disappointing that, in a week as slow as this one, we couldn’t actually see both. But sometimes, them’s the breaks.

When my husband and I arrived at the theater, 40 minutes or so before the screening, there was already a line wrapped around the building. At times like these, I’m so very glad that I’m press. Because, in case I haven’t mentioned before, our unofficial motto is: We Don’t Wait in Lines. We hung out in the lobby for a few minutes before Neil came down the stairs and whisked us away to…the Dreaded Balcony.

Despite the insanity and frustration that usually results from a few hours in The Balcony, we keep going back. We can’t help it. The seats are cushy and leather, and the lower seats are just too close to the screen. So the balcony it was. A gigantic crowd of us showed up for the screening, so we pretty much took up an entire row, which helped to ensure that, for the most part, the most obnoxious people in the balcony this time were the critics. Granted, there were a few people who were a little too excited to be there—and whose excitement spilled out into the beginning of the movie—but they were actually relatively well-behaved this time around. Sure, they got a little loud during the usual giveaway, shouting out demands for equal swag rights for the balcony. But that’s a given.

I must say, it’s nice to be sitting in those comfy balcony seats when the movie is more than two and a half hours long. But, fortunately, American Gangster didn’t feel that long. And even though I always worry a bit when I’m a little too excited to see a movie—for fear that it will end up being a huge disappointment, as so many others have—this time, I wasn’t disappointed. In fact, it was one of those movies that, the more I thought about it afterwards, the more I liked it.

It was definitely a late night, though. Thanks to the outrageous number of trailers, the 7:30 movie didn’t actually get started until about 7:50. So we didn’t get to the car until almost 10:30. Then we had to wait in line for another 20 minutes or so to get out of the parking garage. Another few minutes, and we would have been over our four-hour parking validation limit. Ah, the joys of hanging out in the city.

Since Wednesday was Halloween, we didn’t have an evening screening—and this week was strangely void of daytime screenings. So we didn’t have another screening until Thursday night.

Thursday was one of those crazy days. I got to work at the usual 8:30—at which time my computer decided it didn’t feel like waking up yet. I spent an hour trying to get it to do something, and then I gave up and restarted it. So it was after 9:30 by the time I finally got to work on the weekly newsletter. Fortunately, I didn’t have too many extras to add, so I managed to get it sent out by 11 or so. After that, I had to rush to get things done. I needed to work on my American Gangster review—which, for some reason, was a really hard one to write. But I needed to work on it—because I needed to have a few thoughts fresh in my mind at night, when I was scheduled to make my debut on Fat Guys at the Movies. I also needed to recall my thoughts on Martian Child. And, in general, I needed to psych myself up a bit.

You see, Fat Guys is completely different from the radio I’m used to. When I get to sit in on It’s Movie Time, we only have five minutes—so everything is carefully planned out. There isn’t a lot of time for spontaneity, so we get our reviews written up ahead of time—and then we play around with a few interjections and things later. I get 130 words per movie, and that’s it. Fat Guys, on the other hand, is a much longer show. There aren’t any scripts, so everything is totally spontaneous and off-the-cuff. And, as it turns out, spontaneity totally freaks me out. This is why I’m a writer. I like to be able to edit and delete and cut and paste.

So anyway, I managed to sneak in a quick non-working lunch break—during which I ran out to Target to pick up some post-Halloween half-price goodies. Sadly, there was very little Halloween candy left, which made me very angry. I did get some candy corn, though—one bag for home, one bag for the evening’s recording session. And some M&Ms. And a small plastic gargoyle, which I hope to put in the yard somewhere, to ward off evil spirits…and evil neighbor children. I was tempted to buy myself a crazy Halloween wig while I was at it, too—but I decided against it. Then I rushed back to finish up a few last-minute things.

At about 5:20, I quickly rushed off to make dinner, which I inhaled in about 5 minutes. I got ready to head out, and I said good-bye to my husband, who was coming home just as I was leaving for the August Rush screening at 6. I drove over to the theater and saved a bunch of seats for the rest of the gang.

Before the movie, we had plenty of time to chat. David filled us in on how much he hated Bee Movie, and we spent a lot of time discussing what the looming Hollywood strikes could mean for us. With all the studios rushing to get any old movie green-lit and into production before everyone goes on strike, who knows what could be coming. David mentioned that, during an earlier strike, it meant that quirky, more imaginative movies were green-lit, and it was actually a good thing. But we’re a little worried that it means we’ll be subjected to a giant pile of crap—and, perhaps, a pretty slow summer.

Since August Rush isn’t coming out for a couple of weeks yet, I can’t say much about it right now. So…let’s move right along.

After the screening, I headed out to the great Fat Guys studio, where we got everything ready for the show. Kevin hadn’t gone to the screening, so we had to wait for him to show up. Neil didn’t seem to have much hope of seeing him for the next hour or so—since, he says, Kevin often says he’s heading right over, and then he ends up stopping by the gym on the way over. After all, Kevin is quite concerned about keeping his girlish figure. But, surprisingly, he bypassed the gym and headed right over.

The Fat Guys have quite an impressive set-up—lots of microphones and cables and headsets and things, and a nice big screen that reminded us of the time. And, just for the record, there was no pizza or beer—which you might expect to find in a studio where you record a show called “Fat Guys at the Movies.” It was all a little bit overwhelming, to tell you the truth. But, somehow, I made it through. It took a while for me to get up to speed—since, well, the guys have had 36 shows to figure out how all this stuff works, and I had about 36 minutes. Believe me—they make it look easy. By the end, though, I was getting the hang of it—and, despite my whole fear-of-spontaneity thing, and the occasional presence of noxious fumes, I had a great time. The guys told me I’m actually allowed to come back—and I’m looking forward to it.

After we finished recording the show and playing back some of the funnier parts (particular the parts when Kevin burps and when he confuses the rest of us by talking about something called a “shatchel”), we wrapped up a few things, and I hit the road—and I finally made it home by about 1:30. If I do the math in my somewhat cloudy brain, that adds up to a 17-hour day. And that, my friends, is one long day.

It looks like things are starting to pick up a bit toward the end of next week. I suppose it could be that pre-Thanksgiving rush, hurrying to cram in the screenings before we have a couple of days off (after which things get really crazy). We’ve only got two evening screenings again this week, but the daytime screenings are starting to pop up on the schedule again—and we’ll end the week with screenings on Thursday morning, Thursday night, and Friday morning. It’ll be a good pre-December warm-up.

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