Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The Movie Is Playing

It was a rainy day on Cape Cod today and my daughter and I had planned to see Footloose after I got off work, so we went and got taken away from the rain, and I got taken away from the stress and the fact that I devote hours to planning my classes and I don’t make enough to pay all the bills, by this silly, schmaltzy, fun fantasy world where everyone is so good-looking and can dance so well, and it was worth seeing just for the first part of the “Let’s Here it for the Boy” routine, the cutest moment in any film I’ve seen this year. Man, we loved it! Sometimes, it doesn’t matter what I see. Last Friday, I had wanted to see Take Shelter or The Mill and the Cross, but the arties and the indies don’t get to the Cape until a month or so after their release, if at all, and so I saw The Thing and Real Steel, the latter providing the same sort of silly escapist fantasy as Footloose, and I had a very enjoyable evening.

My favorite movie this year has been The Tree of Life, which I went to see in May on opening weekend in New York City. (It didn’t make the Cape until July.) I’ve been looking forward to seeing Kirsten Dunst in Lars von Trier’s Melancholia, but I knew it might not even make the Cape, and I learned that it was on Comcast, so I decided not to risk missing its theatrical release and watched it three times.

(In way of contrast, I watched von Trier’s Antichrist on Netflix. Interesting connections. Some amazing imagery. Same use of extreme slow motion and some recurrent symbolism: the bridge that’s hard to cross. As for some of the more graphic images, I liked the whetstone bolted to Willem Dafoe’s calf, but his bloody you-know-what was hard to take.)

I love all kinds of movies. I’m an equal opportunity viewer, and I’ll see a movie anywhere, anytime. One of my most memorable viewings of all time was seeing Zulu Dawn with my wife in one of the last, crumbling single-screen cinemas on Market Street in San Francisco where homeless people and pushers and pimps paid the two bucks to get off the streets or hide.

A lot of people my age will only see the month-old indies and foreign movies at the Cape Cinema with its butt-wrecking wooden chairs or at the Nickelodeon, which I call the Old Moldy, but I’ll go to the Regal Cinemas at the Cape Cod Mall, even on a Friday night when the lobby is packed with teenagers, especially if it’s opening night for a PG-13 horror movie, and I have to run the gauntlet of shrieking students who recognize me, and I sit in a theater lit up by the glow of cell phone screens. And I’ll go the dinner-movie route with my wife and the other couples on Saturday night, but if I want to avoid the teeming teens on Friday night, I’ll catch a new release on a Sunday night, even if I have to get up early the next morning. Sunday night is the low-impact, laid-back audience of 20-somethings or community college students. And later in the school year, when I’m getting burned out by teaching, I’ll rebel against the exploitation of my efforts and my talents, and I’ll skip out during lunch time if I’m lucky enough to have the last two periods free, and I’ll catch a weekday matinee. That’s when the teenage mothers bring their babies because they can sit way in the back and there might only be five or ten people in the whole huge theater, babies included. We’ll sit there and the place will go dark and the babies are usually pretty quiet because their clever young mothers have trained them well, or given them a dose of cold medicine, and we’ll watch some B sci-fi flick with Radha Mitchell or some secondary critically reviled feature with Robert Pattinson, and when the big screen fills with light and color and motion, we don’t worry about bills or dirty diapers or teaching a classroom full of kids with ADHD or finishing high school because the movie is playing.

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