Friday, November 16, 2007

Pre-December Warm-Ups

New at Since Last Week:
Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium
Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead

With Thanksgiving right around the corner, things got a little crazy for the members of the Central Ohio Film Critics Association this week, reminding us that December is breathing down our necks.

When we started the week, we had six screenings already scheduled—most of which I was really looking forward to, for a change. So when it was time to get started on Monday morning, I packed my favorite travel mug and headed to our screening of I’m Not There, the marvelously artistic yet totally perplexing film about Bob Dylan.

By that point on Monday morning, I was just happy to get out of the house for a while, for any reason other than to drive to the pharmacy to pick up more gauze or to find something called Betadine. It had been a long weekend for my poor, one-armed husband, and neither of us had gotten much sleep—which is no way to start a hectic week like this one. But despite the recent overabundance of award season disappointments, I was ridiculously upbeat about the week’s offerings. Perhaps I’d just mistaken my husband’s pain meds for my morning multivitamin.

As we walked out of I’m Not There, comparing notes and trying to piece it all together, we were told that we had back-to-back screenings scheduled for Tuesday—one at 11 and another at 1. That took the weekly tally up to seven. And although it was Monday—and I was already exhausted—I briefly considered going to both, as well as the evening screening of Love in the Time of Cholera. But, eventually, I came to my senses.

Also on Monday, a very tragic event occurred. After I rinsed out my favorite travel mug, it fell off the counter, and the handle broke off. I was devastated. I’d asked for the mug last Christmas, after realizing that December would be so much easier to deal with if I had a nice big travel coffee mug. And now, with December right around the corner, I once again found myself mugless. I began to panic—until my one-armed husband studied the bottom of the mug and noticed that it had a lifetime guarantee. I sent the company an email about it, and they offered to replace it. So I would like to thank the kind people at Aladdin who are, at this moment, working to make my December livable.

On Tuesday morning, I dropped my husband off at his office so he could show his face for a while during my 11:00 screening of Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium. Apparently, I was the only one who was actually looking forward to the movie (and I had been ever since I found out that it was written and directed by Zach Helm, who wrote Stranger Than Fiction). But, in the end, I was right. Only John (who will, from this point forward, be known as Scrooge) pulled his nose up at it. And he continued to do so as he and Clay and I walked across the street from the theater for a quick smoothie break. Of course, as I told John, I wasn’t really surprised that he hated Magorium (which, incidentally, he dubbed “Dumborium”), since he tends to prefer slow movies that go nowhere—like Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead. But he continued to get more and more adamant as we sipped our smoothies. From now on, John is cut off from ginseng smoothies.

On Tuesday night, I had every intention of seeing Cholera, despite the fact that it didn’t seem to be a popular choice among critics in general (John said it was a film for us “refined critics”—this coming from a guy who once called me “trash”). Although I really wanted to see it—and although I really wanted to be considered a refined critic, it suddenly occurred to me that I just didn’t have the time to go. I had a game that needed to be reviewed and a feature article that needed to be written—and when I stopped by the mailbox, I found two DVDs that needed my attention. So I stayed home, maintaining my reputation as “trash”—a reputation that was probably only confirmed by the excitement I felt on Wednesday morning, when I showed up for the screening of Stephen King’s latest, The Mist.

On Wednesday night, though, I redeemed myself by choosing the Coen Brothers’ No Country for Old Men over the 3D version of Beowulf. Then again, perhaps I would have appeared more refined if I’d chosen the animated version of classic literature. I guess I’ll have to check with John on that to be sure. But, either way, I went with the Coen Brothers.

The screening was at The Theater Where Nobody Shuts Up. That meant that the guy ahead of me refused to turn off his cell phone (as did numerous others throughout the theater) and the pair behind us felt the need to comment on everything that was happening on-screen. And the people who’d decided to sit in the middle of our aisle decided to get into heavy debate before choosing to get up and climb over top of the rest of us mid-movie. And No Country is clearly not a brainless movie. It requires concentration that I was not allowed. So, despite the fact that I loved most of it, by the end, I was angry and confused. And I was pretty tempted to grab the cell phone out of the hands of the guy ahead of me, throw it down on the floor, and stomp on it. And I was pretty tempted to smack the people behind me around a bit. But perhaps I’m just tired and cranky.

I could, however, relate to the frustration felt by some random man at the front of the theater—who, upon seeing the screen go black, yelled, “Aw, hells to tha no!” Personally, I thought that it was just a theater screw-up (which, for this theater, wouldn’t have been anything new), and they’d just lost the last reel—but then the credits started rolling. And I was perplexed. I’m still trying to figure it all out, and I’m eagerly awaiting the award screener, so I can watch it again.

On Thursday morning, we actually had the morning off. It was strange—so strange, in fact, that I found myself panicking when I got up, thinking I had to rush to get everything done before the latest screening. Boy, was I relieved when I remembered that I had nowhere to be until 7.

After spending the day trying to get my head above water, I headed over to Neil’s place at 6—because we’d decided to carpool to The Theater Where Nobody Shuts Up, since it’s also The Theater That Has No Parking. Really, it was a tough call, deciding whether or not to go. After all, Juno doesn’t come out for another few weeks—and it had been a crazy week already. So I had to decide whether I wanted to tack one more screening onto this week’s list or hold off until one of the later screenings, in December, which is likely to be even more insane. But Jason and Neil were going, so I figure I’d go, too. And there, at The Theater Where Nobody Shuts Up, I ended up seated behind some kid with the biggest hair ever. He also had good posture. So I’m not quite sure what happened at the bottom part of the screening, but the rest of it was fun. And I got a free T-shirt out of the deal—and for once, it’s one that I’ll actually wear (unlike those creepy T-shirts that some geeks gave me at last year’s board game convention).

The rep warned me weeks ago that they were doing some serious promo for this one, and it’s worth checking out. So if you want to see it for free, check out to find free screenings near you.

After a four-day screening marathon, I had today free. It was glorious. But it also meant that I got to my computer this morning to groggily stare down an inbox crammed full with super-urgent emails. And, from its spot beside my computer, a ridiculously long to-do list called to me. Fortunately, though, my husband’s convalescence means that I’ll most likely have plenty of time to play catch-up over the weekend (except when I have to drive him to get a haircut). And, other than a pair of screenings on Monday, the week is free and clear. There’s also turkey and stuffing and all kinds of spare screener-viewing time involved, so I’m looking forward to it.

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