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Saturday, January 24, 2009

The state of movies and movie theaters

I've been wanting to see a movie for weeks, but because of various reasons we didn't go. We usually go to the movies almost every weekend, so this was very unusual. Meanwhile the movies being released were of very high caliber and a couple were so good they've already received awards. When you are only one of four people in a family it's difficult to do everything you want all the time. We usually take turns on what movies we'll see, so I at least get to see the movie I want every fourth time. But the movies I wanted to see have piled up and now I have to classify them so I'll be able to see most of them. 

The first movie on my list was "Slumdog Millionaire" for many reasons. Although there are no recognizable stars, it was one of those movies that has already won two or more awards including, the Golden Globe for Best Picture and it has been nominated for an Academy Award. The movie played in our favorite theater, the Jacob Burns Center in Pleasantville, NY, for weeks. So tonight, when my husband and I finally found a time to go out together, we were going to see "Slumdog Millionaire". He wanted to see "Gran Torino" or "The Wrestler" and though they wouldn't be my first choice they are on my movie list. So we got to the Jacob Burns Center and didn't reserve on the computer beforehand. We got there in plenty of time to see the movie, but they were sold out for the 7:30 show and the other movie we wanted to see, "The Wrestler" was also sold out.  

One thing you should know is that we are members of this theater. Most people who go to it are members. The theater is usually clean and well run and though we have stood on long lines for first run movies, we usually get on line. But not this time and so we went to another theater that does not have membership and would not be my favorite theater. On the way we were looking for another theater that was showing "Slumdog Millionaire" and this one was showing it in about twenty minutes. So we got there in plenty of time and yes, it was sold out too! I thought what the f#$%! I didn't even like the theater. Here's the reason: The last time I had been at this theater I had broken a tooth on their popcorn and the manager never even refunded our money for the popcorn. Besides that he was kind of mean and the theater just sucks! They took a larger theater and cut it up into four or five littler ones. I was still hopeful that since they had renovated that the theaters might be better. But they weren't. 

We decided to go to see "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" mainly because of Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett. We were told to come a little early due to the popularity of this movie.  

Since it was so cold out, in the teens, we ate dinner in a restaurant close to the theater and got back to the theater in plenty of time to get a good place in the line we thought would be forming. When we arrived we were the only ones there and they set up the ropes to start the line. We waited a few minutes and then as we were waiting in this tiny lobby, an usher was vacuuming up the layer of popcorn in front of us. She didn't do a good job and kept stopping every five minutes to talk to someone. The other usher told us we didn't need to wait and let us through to the theaters. But we couldn't go into the actual theater, so we had to stand in this tiny hallway that could fit maybe four people at a time and wait until the movie that was playing "Hotel for Dogs" let out and they could clean the theater. Finally the movie let out and hordes of kids and parents trickled out. When all had gone, and it probably took at least ten minutes to clear them all out, the usher went in and began to clean a theater that held eighty people by himself. Obviously, no one wanted to empty the garbage on a night in the teens, but the garbage can in front was overflowing and there was another popcorn-layered carpet here too. 

Another problem this theater had was its size. The seats were arranged in sets of four and three like an airplane. In fact, my husband said it was like airplane seating. The seats themselves did not move back and forth like airplane seats, but they were leaning back. The reason is that this theater has their movie screen high on the wall. It's necessary to lean back to see it if you are too far in front. The fact that there were only three seats on one side means that two couples can't sit together on that side. Most of the first two seats were filled and only the singleton seats were left. One man had to leave his family to sit next to us. But another two couples who couldn't get seats together gave up and got their money back. My husband looked at me and we both decided that these people were way too picky about their movie experience. I mean, you are seeing a movie through only one set of eyes and yes, it's fun to look over at your husband or daughters and throw a phrase to them every now and then. But it's only a movie and you can live without them for a couple of hours. We've done it ourselves in tight situations. 

Now to the movie itself. I would describe it as a cross between "Forest Gump" and "Little Big Man". Only it's in reverse. You meet Benjamin Button as a baby whose father wants to kill him, but he leaves him on a step instead. If not for a wonderful woman who saves him and becomes his mother, Benjamin would have died. The story is told from a diary that Daisy, Benjamin's lover, has her daughter read to her on her death bed. It's interesting that Daisy is dying during Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans where the story begins. 

I'm not going to say anymore, because anything more I could say would give away the ending and I always hate that. Go and see it to learn more or read another review that gives everything about the movie. All I will say is that this story becomes farfetched toward the end and though I am a person who will cry easily when there is a sad scene in a movie, I surfed over the scenes without feeling a thing. I felt that I was being manipulated and that will quench any tears I might have had. I'd be interested in other people's reactions. So please, if you have seen this movie, I'd love to discuss it with you. For me, this seems like a great vehicle for Brad Pitt, who does look very hot in certain scenes, and a great opportunity for Cate Blanchett who plays the younger and older Daisy. Some of the special effects are kind of amazing too. 

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