Monday, April 07, 2008


New at Since Last Time:
The Ruins
Nim’s Island

For In the Cheap Seats and more, be sure to check out the Blog.

Ever have one of those weeks when you feel like you haven’t accomplished a single thing? Yeah, that’s this week. You see, at some point this week (I think it was Monday afternoon), my Internet connection went down for about an hour and a half. Since then, it’s been pretty much working on hand-crank speed. To illustrate, at one point, I tried to load the N& homepage. Now, that’s not a huge page to load. After a couple of minutes, though, I decided that I might as well take a break and eat my lunch. When I came back, maybe a half hour later, the page still had not loaded. Conveniently, the same happened when I attempted to load the page for my service provider.

Now, I realize that there was a time—not so long ago—when I lived without the Internet. Though I can barely imagine that world anymore, I do remember that time. But here’s the thing: those days are no more. We have the Internet. We have all these pages, just waiting for us to visit. And when they’re there but you can’t get to them, it’s even more frustrating than their not being there at all.

And, of course, to make matters worse, I run an online publication. It’s my job to be online. And when I can’t, well, that pretty much blows the whole week. It also makes me seriously cranky.

But anyway…let’s talk about the movies. This week’s craziness started on Tuesday morning, with our screening of Nim’s Island. This was all very exciting because (a) I was kinda looking forward to the movie and (b) we were having the screening at a different theater than usual. This meant no free coffee but it also meant that the screen would be clean, the sound would be good, and everything would pretty much go off without a hitch. And it did. Before I ran out the door, I brewed myself a big mug o’ coffee, and I gathered up some homemade cookies to share with the gang. When I got there, David was already there, eating some sort of fast-food breakfast in his car (oh, the glamorous life of a film critic). We chatted for a while as he finished, and then we made our way to the theater. And here was the first (and only) hitch of the screening: the doors were locked. Now, there are a whole bunch of doors at this theater, and we checked every last one of them. They were all locked. Fortunately, though, it was a pretty nice day (hooray for the gradual approach of spring!), so we didn’t mind standing around outside. Eventually, though, Brook, our friendly rep and theater employee, showed up with her keys and let us in, and all was good. We then wandered into the theater, took our seats, and settled in.

The talk of the day was an article that had been published in the New York Times that morning—about the gradual extinction of newspaper film critics. It’s pretty sad, but I have to admit that I’m a part of the problem—as well as a part of the solution. On one hand, it’s Internet Mavericks like me who have destroyed the newspaper industry. After all, why would you want to dig out Friday’s paper for the movie reviews when you can check online (where you can find every single review we’ve written, neatly archived online, at any time of the day or night, from wherever you happen to be)? At the same time, with the disappearance of your friendly neighborhood film critic, now’s the time to find your friendly Internet film critic—someone who’s interesting and entertaining and insightful and there when you need her/him. If you’re looking for someone like that, I have someone I could recommend…

Anyway, the article discusses how the disappearance of newspaper critics is especially bad for smaller filmmakers—who rely on the critics to spread the word about their movies. But don’t worry, filmmakers—there are some of us out here who are still watching, and who still appreciate all your hard work. The reviews are still out there. People just have to get used to finding the information in a different way.

After our scholarly and insightful discussion, the movie began. At first, I found that I wasn’t really thrilled by it—but I really wanted to like it, and I was willing to accept that the film was just made in a different, rather child-like, style. And I was okay with that. For a while. But then Jodie Foster turned all crazy and spastic, and the lizard squawked like a bird, and it got worse and worse and worse. Afterwards, we stood outside the theater and laughed at (not with) it. And the more I thought about it, the angrier I got. I really wanted to like that movie, darnit, but they made me hate it. And on Tuesday night, when I arrived back at the very same theater for our screening of Leatherheads, when someone asked me what I’d thought of Nim’s Island, my response was to huff and say, “Poop sandwich.” (What can I say? A stupid movie called for a stupid response.)

That night, we ended up seated by The Obnoxious People who seem to follow us around. They always sit right by us (sometimes defiantly settling into reserved press seats) for (I’m pretty sure) the sole purpose of driving us completely out of our minds. These people are loud. They’re obnoxious. And the talk (loudly) through the entire movie. And they’re always there.

But even more obnoxious than The Obnoxious People was the woman from the radio station that was hosting the screening. She started with her whole spiel a full half-hour before the screening started—and we were forced to listen to her crack jokes that only she found funny for the entire time. And that’s when Kevin came up with the whole scam—but that’s another discussion for another day (or maybe not).

After seeing Nim’s in the morning, I found myself being much kinder to Leatherheads that night. That’s not to say that it was a brilliant movie, but it was much better than Nim’s (which is currently sitting in Jason’s bottom five for the year). So I guess Leatherheads just lucked out. If Nim’s had been any good, perhaps I would have hated it. Then again, probably not. How can anyone hate Clooney and Zellweger? I’m pretty sure it’s not physically possible.

On Wednesday, we had a day off. So, with my husband out of town on business, I chose to spend the evening watching bad reality TV. And it felt so good.

But we were back at it again on Thursday. In the morning, we were back to the free coffee (which, just for the record, almost made me gag in the middle of the movie) for our screening of Smart People. Before the movie, we gathered around to dis on Nim’s and generally compare notes. Then Neil showed up wearing his very stylish “My Mom Loves Gerard Butler” shirt and began singing the praises of the movie we were about to see. He’d actually seen it at Sundance and had loved it so much (in much the same way that his mother loves Mr. Butler) that he couldn’t wait to see it again. He’s crazy like that. But, hey—it’s a good movie.

Once again, Thursday was another two-screening day—but we had a lot of time between the two, since the second one was a late, late screening. At 10 p.m. No kidding. But, well, it was The Ruins, and we’d all been looking forward to seeing it. And since this was the only chance we’d have to see it, we decided to suck it up and drink a little extra coffee. We also decided to meet up for drinks before the screening—and Jason and I split a giant dessert, which we figured would keep us wired through the screening.

When we got settled into our seats, I realized that (a) it was late at night, (b) I was watching a scary movie, and (c) I was going to end up going home to an eerily empty house. That, my friends, is what I call dedication to my job.

When it was all over (thanks to an endless number of pre-movie trailers), it was almost midnight, so we all went our separate ways—Jason and I headed to our homes to crash, while Neil and Kevin went to start recording Fat Guys.

Normally, this is where I’d wrap up the week’s report. But since my Internet connection was ridiculously slow on Friday (the cable company says it’s either a bad line or a bad modem—and they claim that they’ll be by to check it out on Tuesday night), I didn’t get my weekly post up then, so I’ll add a little more to the week’s report.

On Friday night, I had a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Clay had some tickets to head to OSU to attend a screening with Oscar-winning director Milos Forman. You might know him from such films as One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Amadeus, The People vs. Larry Flint, Hair, or Man on the Moon. The movie we were seeing, however, was called Taking Off. It was Forman’s first American movie—made in the early ‘70s, after he left Czechoslovakia. Though the studios were big on tiny-budgets at the time, most of those tiny-budget films (including Taking Off) ended up flopping. For that reason, no one’s really seen Taking Off. In fact, Forman himself admitted that he hadn’t seen it in 30 years. It’s not on DVD, and it’s not on VHS—and Forman was impressed that someone managed to get their hands on a print.

The whole evening was fascinating. First of all, how often do you have the chance to be in the presence of an Oscar-winning director? And, then, how often do you get to watch a rarely-seen movie with that Oscar-winning director? Though it wasn’t very well received at the time (most likely because it hit a bit too close to home for most viewers), it was a smart and entertaining little film. And the short Q&A after the film was absolutely fascinating. Forman talked about filmmaking in a totalitarian regime vs. filmmaking in Hollywood. He talked about his influences. And he talked about working with a young Jack Nicholson (on-set, he’s incredibly professional—though, off-set, Forman says he’s still not sure whether or not Nicholson is sane). And, when all was said and done, it was one pretty cool evening—especially for geeks like me.

But now it’s time to settle in and start another week. It’s going to be a slow week for screenings—just one Wednesday night and maybe one on Thursday morning (if my very first engineering of the show goes smoothly enough to make it to the screening on time). We did, however, just get an email saying that they might be screening Zombie Strippers for us this week—so that might make for an interesting adventure.

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