Monday, February 22, 2010

Why Do I Hate Movies So Much?

(Warning: I don’t actually hate movies. I’ve watched approximately 7 of them in the past 48 hours. The title of this entry is an exaggeration to get attention. Kind of.)

Alright, we’ve already established how much I loathe the movie-going experience. It’s not transcendental to me. It’s not a two hour escape from my worries. It’s borderline excruciating. I hate to rehash old material (note: no I don’t) but to be trapped in a dark theater with the general population to watch a movie which I have no guarantees will actually entertain me is neck-and-neck with watching a movie on a transatlantic flight seated between two Kevin James’s and directly in front of the rear lavatory. Actually, now that I think about it, at least at the end of a transatlantic flight you will be in some foreign city with adventures awaiting you. Leaving the movie theater only means stepping over stale popcorn and sticky soda residue on the long trek out to your car.

This is all very ironic because one of the biggest parties of the year is the Oscars party that my friends Philip and Holly throw at their house. There’s betting sheets and a large cash pot to be won at the end of the night. The fact that I have come in second for the past two years, while frustrating, is a testament to my ability to blindly guess correct answers. See, on any given Oscar night, I have MAYBE seen one of the nominated films. Last year, 3:10 to Yuma was the only Oscar nominated movie I had actually seen. The year before that? I had seen a whopping TWO nominees. As a side note, that same year was the year that we learned that if you are ever betting on the Oscars and get stuck on the Best Sound Effect or Best Editing and there has been a Bourne movie out that year (Ultimatum, Supremacy or otherwise), bet on that. Also, for costume awards always pick the period piece with the frilliest costumes.

That’s not to say that I didn’t bluff my way through my ballot sheet. I talked about how hard it would be to choose between Sean Penn’s hauntingly on-point portrayal of slain San Francisco mayor and gay rights pioneer Harvey Milk and Mickey Rourke’s comeback turn in The Wrestler. It was especially difficult considering I had seen neither movie. To my credit, I saw Milk a few weeks after the Oscars and it blew me away. I’m glad Sean Penn won though I had no actual reason to vote for him a few weeks prior. I saw The Wrestler a month ago. Also a good movie.

So I can’t watch movies in theaters. That’s ok, there’s always renting them. Except I canceled my Netflix membership due to the laziness that lead to me keeping movies (unwatched) for months at a time. And I don’t like going into Blockbuster because my inner Premiere Video snob screams to be let out. WHAT? You don’t have Mike Leigh’s Naked available for rental? No copies of Roman Polanski’s Repulsion? Someone should burn this place to the ground! Sadly, Premiere Video is also aware of my laziness when it comes to returning movies and therefore they have regretfully decided to not rent movies to me any longer. I can’t say that I blame them. I wouldn’t rent movies to me either.

Then my mom, of all people, hipped me to the magic of just downloading any movies that you might have wanted to see a few years ago, want to see now(ish) or plan on eventually seeing sometime in the future. In the interest of keeping whoever that is that puts those legalese warnings at the beginning of DVDs about movie trademarks happy, I will insist that this is all legal, paid-for downloads. So I followed suit. I loaded up my download queue with all the movies I never got around to seeing over the last two years and threw in the few movies I did see in the theater to see if watching them in the safety, comfort and unstickyness of my home affected my opinion of them. And they kept piling up. Before I knew it, I had twenty-odd movies to watch. And that’s when I realized: I just don’t think I like watching movies.

Blame it on our instant gratification inter-webual society (that’s a thing). Blame it on my lifelong non-love of reading fiction (I can watch documentaries until my eyes bleed and I realize I’ve been up for three days straight). But it takes A LOT for me to get sucked into a movie. And if I don’t get sucked in during that critical 30-minute opening window, all is lost. And even if I do get sucked in, if the movie starts dragging 2/3rds of the way through, I have no sense of perseverance. It’s easier than it should be for me to throw my hands up and just turn the movie off. There’s no nagging sense of curiosity on my part as to how it ends . There’s no sense of duty to finish the movie just to say that I saw it. If I watch 2/3rds of a movie and can’t make it through, I consider my task completed and will discuss the movie as if I have seen the whole thing as long as no one asks me what I thought of the ending. And if they do, you can always win any argument with a simple, understated “meh, whatever.”

I think a lot of this has to do with the EXTREMELY narrow window of movie genres I tend to enjoy. No, I don’t issue sweeping dismissals of entire genres blindly. I will try to watch a movie of any genre. As I said, you could probably make a documentary on the life of an herb garden in a kitchen window sill and I would watch it. But when you start talking action, romantic comedy, Pixar, superheroes, espionage thrillers…I just…..get…….sleepy. Special effects and computer generated monsters leave me cold. A wacky case of mistaken identity that leads to a beachfront marriage despite all the odds makes me want to eat glass. I’m sure there are exceptions for all of these but generally speaking, I don’t like talking animated cars or people jumping out of helicopters into collapsing buildings or cloying romantic plot lines.

So, uh, yeah. Back to why I wrote all of this. I decided that this weekend would be the weekend I would try my best to plow through my stash of downloaded movies. And the results were as follows:

The Hangover – I saw this in the theater and my hatred for it could barely be contained. I now realize that the audience had a lot to do with my initial dislike of the movie. Too many, “Ohhhhh no they didn’t!”s or “Ohhhhh shit, that Chinese guy is naked!!!!!”s. I’ve actually watched it a few times since I downloaded it and while it’s definitely not a movie that I find something new about each time, it’s a decently entertaining movie with a few memorable laughs. There, happy?

The Wrestler – Man, this movie is the antidote to subtlety. How do you say that you enjoyed a movie when, while you admired the movie and the performances therein, you were just aching for it to end? I wanted him to die. Not because I didn’t like Mickey Rourke’s character but because his life was so shitty that, for my sake, I needed him to just go out, Redd Foxx-style, in as little pain as possible. The moral of this movie? No one should EVER hire me to work for a suicide hotline.

The Invention of Lying – I loved the idea of this movie. It’s a great premise. Shoehorning that great premise into a romantic comedy wherein the lead character, who is actually likable, spends the entire movie squandering his “powers” on trying to make a completely unlikeable character fall in love with him? Boo! I can’t think of the last character from a movie that I disliked more than Jennifer Garner’s character. Maybe Christian Bale’s sleep-apnea voiced Batman?

Lost Highway – I love this movie. Seen it dozens of times. Robert Blake plays, hands-down, one of the creepiest characters ever put on film. And this was before he shot his wife in real life so that only acts as a creepy supplement to the movie. But when I was watching it (again) on Saturday, I started to realize just how 90’s the movie is. It’s like if Reality Bites was turned into a surreal horror movie. "Someone is sending us videotapes they have filmed of us sleeping in our house at night? God, that’s so creepy that I’m going to take another drag off this cigarette and shrug and suggest that maybe we should, like, I don’t know, call the cops or something? Ugh, but the phone is all the way over there." I still like it despite all of this.

Now to the movies I didn’t get around to watching:

Inglorious Bastards – Seems long. Will get around to it eventually. Look for a half-assed review of it here sometime between now and Winter of 2013.

Slumdog Millionare – Never before has a movie been so beloved and seemingly made for me and yet I have avoided watching it like the plague. I love Danny Boyle and have for years. My gay theater friend Benjamin and I listened to the soundtrack for Shallow Grave on repeat (we were, as Hank Hill would say, not right) during my first flight to London. Let me reiterate this: I love the films of Danny Boyle. Additionally, everyone I have ever met in my life swears that this movie is the most heartwarming thing any human can ever have the pleasure of viewing. So why am I so averse to just sitting down and committing two hours of my life watching it? I have no idea. It is one of life’s great mysteries. Much like why I can’t return any given rental DVD on time. Oh well.

On a completely unrelated but undoubtedly more entertaining note, with Josh Howard now gone for good, all we have are memories of when he and Marquis Daniels were the two coolest Mavs. Now Marquis Daniels has immortalized his coolness in the form of the ugliest necklace I have ever seen. Apple Orthodontics would not have let this happen.


The Crump said...

My first job was working at a movie theater oh about 9-10 years ago, after that I've maybe watched less than 50 movies since then, whether at home, in the theater, whatever. Something about getting to see "the inside" of what goes on behind the scenes just took away something for me.

amandacobra said...

I agree. I used to work at a movie theater too. And now that I think of it, I can't remember being nearly as annoyed with my fellow movie goers before I worked at the theater. Maybe there is something about seeing so many examples of bad patrons that I go into theaters cringing.

That said, Zombieland was awesome.

Anonymous said...

Zombieland did indeed kick much ass. I actually like going to theaters, but then i've never had an experience like this lady -

Since you don't like theaters, i'll point you to a place in case you don't know about it already, just put ninjavideo in your url bar and the intertubes will magically take you there.