As many of you know, I don’t celebrate Christmas or Hanukkah or Kwanzaa or Yule. I belong to the very small cult of Cinemites (not to be confused with the Sin-a-mite cult, who really know how to throw parties.) Each year on December 25, I indulge or over-indulge in movies. Typically, Cinemas is celebrated at a large multi-plex theater, but it can also be observed in the more humble form of the Ritual of the DVD’s.
Most years, hubby and I see 3 or 4 movies, but one year we saw 4 movies at the theater and another 3 at home. We spent the next day with our eyes burning, and a bit hungover from all the popcorn, pop, and candy. Since then, we’ve tried to celebrate in moderation.
This year was a disappointment for a number of reasons, beginning with a concept called “Fork and Screen.” This is billed as an upscale movie-dining experience, where you watch the movie while eating an alleged meal, which I suspect is a slight step up from the microwaved monstrosities already passing for food in the regular part of the theater. The gimmick behind this is that not only does one pay exorbitantly for the dubious food stuffs, one pays extra for the privilege of watching a movie while listening to people chew openly on hamburgers and pizzas. (As opposed to the common theater experience of listening to people nibble furtively on popcorn and candy.)
At the theater we visited, they enforce the gimmick by offering certain films only in the “Fork and Screen.” Namely, you couldn’t see Milk in a normal theater. You could only see it in the Foodatorium. Because we didn’t want to pay into the gimmick, we didn’t get to see it.
It threw our entire schedule for the day off. We hadn’t planned to see The Spirit, although we both enjoyed its precursor, Sin City. However, it was the only movie starting at the time we’d intended to see Milk, and we weren’t opposed to seeing it.
We saw about forty minutes of it. We would have seen even less, but I think hubby and I were both waiting for the other to cave first. Finally, we both leaned together and whispered, “I can’t take this.” It was so bad that we got our money back. I rarely walk out of movies and never have I asked for my money back, but this was special. I like comic book movies. As long as they’re visually interesting, I don’t even mind the ones with stilted dialog and glaring plot holes. The Spirit had both, plus half-hearted absurdism from a phoning-it-in Samuel L. Jackson and Scarlett Johansen. And it wasn’t anywhere near as visually interesting as the original comic strip.
Walking out of that movie put us in another bind. We hadn’t intended to see The Day the Earth Stood Still, but again: that’s what was playing at the right time. At least it was in IMAX, which renders even mediocre things minimally interesting. Which is good, because DESS was fairly mediocre. There’s not even any point in adding to the jokes about Keanu Reevers doing well at emotionless aliens. Its only selling point was that Jennifer Connelly is immenently watchable, even when she’s starring in dreck. (Oh and getting to see The Watchmen trailer on the IMAX screen was a bonus.)
We abandoned ship after that. There were other movies we wanted to see, but Cinemas seemed tainted somehow.
This is how you know I’m a true Cinemite. You’ll never hear me complain about the cost of movie tickets, or even refreshments. I don’t care. I’d pay double to see a good movie. The problem with the movie industry is mediocrity. It sinks billions of dollars into movies that aren’t worth watching. Storylines that are tired, dialog that’s forced, characters with uncertain motivations and goals, ninth inning changes of heart that are unbelievable, and enough deus ex machina to choke a Trojan horse.
It all serves as a good reminder of what not to do when writing a novel. A reminder, too, that even if you write the best novel you can, Hollywood may devour your story and shit out a movie you’d hate to pay $10 to see.
On the bright side, at least no one got hurt at the theater where I celebrated Cinemas. Unlike in Philadelphia, where a man shot someone for talking during the movies. You know who I feel sorry for? The other people in the theater. First, some jackass talking in the movie and then another jackass pulling out a gun and shooting the place up. This is a sacred temple, people. Have some respect.