Monday, July 21, 2008

Feast or Famine

Recently, on
Mamma Mia!
The Dark Knight
Meet Dave
Hellboy II: The Golden Army

This summer, I’ve been finding it difficult to keep on top of blog postings—for a couple of very different reasons. You see, it’s been either feast or famine in the Cheap Seats lately. Either we have one rather uneventful screening during the week (which leaves me reluctant to write about my one uneventful screening—since, after all, it would make my glamorous life seem quite dull and monotonous) or we have a gazillion of them, and I’m left scrambling to get caught up (as I am right this very minute).

Last week, you see, was one of those gazillion-screening weeks. It all started on Monday morning with our screening of The Dark Knight. This one, of course, was one big freakin’ deal. It was The Critic Event of the Summer (well, that and the screening of the summer’s first blockbuster, Iron Man). The screening was so big, in fact, that a few critics’ spouses took a vacation day so they could see it. I, for one, was so excited that I almost threw up. Okay…not really. But I was excited. And, fortunately, I wasn’t disappointed. We got to screen the whole head-spinning thing in IMAX, which was truly amazing—and, despite the 160-minute runtime, it didn’t feel long at all. The only problem was that the screening was at 11—and by the time 1:30 rolled around, I was pretty much starving to death. Fortunately, though, eight of us had planned a post-screening luncheon at California Pizza Kitchen—which made the day just that much cooler.

On Tuesday night, we had our Mamma Mia! screening—which, for some reason, my husband chose not to attend with me. When I showed up at the theater, though, the place was already packed. There was a very large line of very eager middle-aged women—many of whom were dressed up for the occasion, and most of whom were giving us dirty looks for standing in a pack by the theater door instead of waiting in line like the rest of them. Oh, if looks could kill…

It’s no surprise, then, that we scurried into the theater as soon as we were allowed and took our seats. We sat next to the rep’s mom, who we all remembered from an earlier screening, when some crazy bat questioned each one of us before loudly announcing to her friend, “They’re not press.” As it turned out, the Mamma Mia! screening proved to be just as action-packed. As the theater began to fill up, a couple walked up to the seats right next to the rep’s mom and proceeded to rip the press signs off. David, being absolutely sick of people who seem to do that at just about every screening, called over, “Um, excuse me, you can’t take those seats.” The two continued to exchange words, while I nudged Neil, who was sitting next to me, to announce that a fight was in the works. We were all prepared to back David up (after all, we’d just seen The Dark Knight, and we all felt that we were prepared for battle), and we watched eagerly as the man got all snippy and belligerent. He demanded to know if, perhaps, David worked for the theater. Else, apparently, he figured that David didn’t have the right to point out to him that those seats were reserved for someone who was not him. David then explained that the seats were reserved for the people in charge of the screening—and that those people would not feel the slightest remorse if they had to throw him out of the theater. Apparently, that got him—so he finally left. We were happy to see him go—but, to be honest, we were secretly hoping for a brawl. After all, we do love the Film Critic Legends. Someday, when we’re all old and crazy and mostly blind, we’ll sit around all day, in our custom-made theater-seat wheelchairs, saying things like, “Remember when Jason almost got in a fistfight at Roscoe Jenkins?”

That incident may have been over, though, but the fun just continued. At 7:30, when the screening was scheduled to begin, some crazy guy in a Hawaiian shirt got up to start the promotional giveaways. Unfortunately, he wasn’t just going to throw some T-shirts out into the audience and call it good. No, he had to do a “Name that ABBA song” contest, which was long and drawn out and ridiculous. The best part, though, was when he read off the lyrics to “Mamma Mia” for some poor, clueless schmuck who had absolutely no idea what the song was. So Hawaiian Shirt Guy gave him a clue: “What’s the movie title?”

“I still don’t know it,” Clueless Schmuck replied, to groans throughout the audience.

“No, really—it’s the title of the movie we’re about to see. What’s the title of the movie?”

“I don’t know! I haven’t seen it yet!” Clueless Schmuck responded. At that point, the entire critics’ row put their hands over their faces and shook their heads.

But it got even worse. Afterwards, Hawaiian Shirt Guy started handing out lyrics sheets, to encourage the crowd to sing along. He tried to hand one to David—not a good idea, since he was still a little riled up over the Stolen Seat Incident. I honestly thought that David was going to punch him in the face.

The funny thing, however, was that Kevin emailed the rep the next day to complain about the whole song sheet thing, and the rep told him that the studio (Universal) had actually encouraged singalongs. Kevin was irate. I, on the other hand, figure that listening to the guy next to me (meaning: Neil) singing couldn’t have been any more painful than listening to Pierce Brosnan.

On Wednesday night, I was planning to catch another Dark Knight screening—this time with my husband, who didn’t take the day off to see it on Monday. However, things were so tight with the Wednesday night screening that I decided not to risk it. After all, the rep had told me that I wasn’t allowed to screen it again—not only that, but critics who were allowed to screen it (meaning: those who didn’t see it on Monday) weren’t allowed to bring guests. And, since I’m not a jerk like that, I took the night off instead—and planned to catch it over the weekend.

On Thursday morning, we had a screening of The Wackness. Neil loves it so much that he’s already seen it five times at various film festivals—but, surprisingly, he didn’t show up for the screening. Unfortunately, I think Neil’s hype ruined it for a few of us—because I liked it more than the rest of the gang.

After the screening, I went rushing back to work on my radio script for the week. Clay was on vacation, so I was filling in for him. Unfortunately, John was also out for much of the week—so he had to catch up on The Dark Knight on Wednesday. That meant that we had to record on Friday morning instead of Thursday—and that we’d be finishing up the script on Thursday afternoon. Fortunately, though, I was pretty much ready to go, so I was finished in time to make dinner and head out to another screening.

Thursday night’s screening was The Rocker. Originally, it was supposed to come out…next week, I think. But the release has been bumped a few weeks. Still, I wanted to get it over with. Not only that, but it was screening at a theater nearby, making it nice and convenient. I was also curious—since I’d never actually been to that theater.

As it turns out, the theater by our house is The Smelly Old Theater. It’s the kind that was huge in the late ‘80s but is now just kinda old and out-of-date. It smells musty, the air-conditioning barely works, and I’ve seen bigger screens in people’s home theaters (though, sadly, not my own). But hey—it was close to home. It was pretty close for Kevin and Jason, too—so both of them were also in attendance (Jason proudly grabbed a stylish “I Only Drum Naked” T-shirt). Kevin was keeping his fingers crossed for a timely screening, since he had to rush home afterwards, pick up his son, and head into town for a pre-Dark Knight roundtable discussion.

Since both Kevin and Neil rushed out to see The Dark Knight at midnight, it wasn’t a surprise that they weren’t at the Friday morning screening. I, on the other hand, had already made it through a morning recording session (this week on It’s Movie Time, John and I covered an interesting combo: The Dark Knight and Meet Dave). After a two-screening day and a morning in the studio, I was beat, but I couldn’t miss Emma Thompson in Brideshead Revisited. Strangely, very few of my male colleagues were there. Go figure.

After a crazy week like that one, you might think that I’d take a break from movies for a while. And I’ll admit that, on Friday afternoon, I may have vowed never to see another movie again. But alas, I lied. And at noon on Saturday, I wrangled my husband out the door to see a matinee The Dark Knight. I couldn’t resist.

Now, however, I get a break. Or at least I don’t have to watch a movie today. I’m back at it tomorrow, though. And Wednesday morning. And Wednesday night. Another feast week…

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