Tuesday, August 21

An Afternoon at the Movies

I went alone.  My partner was busy elsewhere and wasn't enamored of seeing the film I wanted to see.  Once I organized my thoughts I decided well, hell, why not see two movies then?  I checked it out and by God there was another one that fit the bill.  They were playing at my local 16-screen movie palace, a mere eight minutes away and if that weren't enough, it was free popcorn day.  I did confirm the times and, more importantly, the waiting time in between movies.  Ah, only 40 minutes.  I could return to the car and relax.

On my short trip to the complex I thought about seeing what amounts to a double feature and then thought waaayyyy back to when I did actually go to double features.  Yikes, I remember drive-ins (!!!) that offered triple features.  I loved double features.  The films often had something in common... maybe a common costar or both were musicals or westerns or whatever.  The films I saw would never have been together on a double-bill.

I am not doing outright reviews on either of the films, The Bourne Legacy or Hope Springs, although I may tinker with each of them for a few sentences.  I did like both of them well enough.  Each had an element or two that tickled my fancy.  At the same time, neither was exactly sensational nor are they likely to wind up in my DVD collection.

I think I've said before that I mainly go to  matinees.  I am tempted to say matinees only but once in awhile something freaky happens and I end up sharing an armrest with a stranger at an evening showing.  And hey, I don't work.  I don't need to do evening showings or weekends.  I like matinees because I am more awake, they're cheaper and best of all, there are fewer people.  Like a lot of us, I love to people watch and will often show up at the theater in quite enough time to do my people watching and listening and also to nab the seat of my choice... the three or four with no seats in front of them.

I am always so amused at the audiences that given films attract.  Previews are often geared to having some commonality with the film you've come to see.  Those Hollywood guys have figured out the demographics for their audiences.  It's fun to watch it all play out.

In my reviews of Shame and Magic Mike I wrote of the audiences.  The former had a lot of solo men.  Big surprise.  Magic Mike had a lot of revved-up women, out for the day with their girlfriends and not a man they knew in sight.  War movies certainly attract more men.  If there are women along, they've been dragged and there's usually a tradeoff, a price to pay. The first-date, romantic comedy things have an equal splash of the sexes and ages.  I do try to stay away from movies that mainly attract teenagers but I am not always successful at that.  And there's the fawning crowds that are attracted to franchise films.  Nothing quite like them.

Theaters themselves, their locations, say something about the folks.  Mine is a little rednecky and therefore every ass-kickin', pistol-whippin', computer-generated, coin-jingling Hollywood mega-production plays there.  If I want to see one of those, and sometimes I do, I am glad they are there... you know, eight minutes away.  But often I have to get into traffic (!!!) and go somewhere else, like to my local art house where I can catch the occasional treasure. 

I will never truly understand why my local theater, again with 16 screens, couldn't have at least one of them showing the little independent film.  We actually have two art house theaters.  One is in a predominately Jewish area and the other in a predominately gay area.  Both raise my people-watching pleasures to extremes.

My take on the Jewish folks is they are older, wonderfully turned out in some fine threads, come with friends so often and appear to make it an event of some magnitude.  They really love coming to indi movies and I love being in theaters with people who do.  The other theater, in addition to gays, gets a host of folks coming solo (more so than at any other theater I attend and I pay attention to it because I am often alone myself).  Funky folk are afoot.  They bring little lights and shine them on books and newspapers and magazines.  Like most art houses everywhere, the types of people who populate them are utterly watchable.

A summer matinee for The Bourne Legacy attracts both that fawning crowd (of which I am a member this time) and action fans and by and large that means men and mostly young men.  I did notice a fair amount of beer bellies and scraggly beards and suspenders though.  There was a number of motorcycles in the parking lot and once I saw the film, I knew why.  There were not a great many women but some were happy to be there while others looked like they probably cut a deal of some sort.  Yeah, like coming back to see Hope Springs.

I haven't read fantastic reviews about Bourne by any means and I can get that.  It doesn't have Matt Damon, which I think is quite fine because I much liked Jeremy Renner as another operative.  The photography and location work were two of the best things in it.  Like a lot of action-thrillers, it was short on plausibility and sensibility and long on high-tech and characters sathed in self-importance.  The briefest answer to what is The Bourne Legacy?  The same answer as the first three... it's a chase movie.   I had a good time.

Now erase your Etch-A-Sketch and bring in Hope Springs and let's chat up this audience.  I may have been the only solo man in the joint... and solo or not, there weren't many of us.  If these guys looked reluctant going in, they looked pained going out. 

They call it a comedy-drama.  The comedy is not a knee-slapping, joke-telling-sight-gag, pratfall kind of thing.  I heard laughter in my audience, for sure, lots of it, but most of it smacked of an uneasiness.  Men squirmed and ha-ha'ed only because their wives were laughing and they were laughing to ward off crying or at least being reminded of less-than-desirable times in their long marriages.  Let's assume you know this is about a couple who seeks couples counseling for a lack of intimacy in their relationship.  Narrowing it down a bit, it's the wife who wants this, not the husband, who goes kicking and whining.  Let's also assume this will not be a comfortable movie for older couples to see.    

Since a great deal of it concerns therapy sessions, I might expect there would be many folks, men especially, not comfortable with this aspect of the film as well.  If the lack of sexual harmony in longtime relationships is not enough here, then there is the lack of attention that people give later in life, the taking so much for granted, the dishonesty, the secrets, the general inability to share, to give of oneself, that lack of even touching, the silence of being told you're loved.  Gee, pick your poison.

Personally, I was not bothered by these aspects of the film.  I loved the therapy sessions and thought the advice was, of course, spot on.  And c'mon, who doesn't like a Meryl movie for God's sake?  This won't be her next Oscar winner but it was a fun diversion for her, I have no doubt.  At first I wondered why Tommy Lee Jones was chosen.  Maybe you wouldn't want someone to snuggle up to you who looks like he keeps a gun under his pillow.  Let him go to sleep and you just read a good book.   But Jones was perfectly cast, using all those traits we've come to know and admire right nicely in a change of pace film for him.  I also first thought... Steve Carell as the therapist?  Huh?  And while I did expect him to cut up somehow during one of his therapeutic flourishes, he was actually quite good in a serious role. 

This theater was packed.  I saw groups of nine and 10 women walk in.  The clamor that came with an auditorium packed with mainly women was exceptional and let's not forget before anyone takes up arms that I just came from a male-dominated theater where the only thing I heard was the sound of popcorn crunching and the occasional belch.  Well, just occasional.  Ok, twice.

Such a posting wouldn't be complete without a little PMS (post movie squawking).  I am so sick of the commercials shown in theaters these days.  If I want to hear something about Chevrolet or joining the Marines or Grey Goose or the office hours of a dentist down the street, I will endure it at home, that is, until I can mute it.  And knock off the TV previews, too.  I don't care.  Telling me just once to not use my cellphone in any way, shape or form is sufficient.  And those Moviefone ads have got to stop.  They are insufferable and I promise you that I would never use Moviefone just because of the obnoxious ads.

My next planned people-watching experience comes shortly at our local Renaissance Faire.  I can't wait.

NEXT POSTING:   Review of Sparkle

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