Auld Lang Cine-ma - Part I

On September 12th, on our first night of our second annual Walt Disney World vacation, Jen and I attended a late evening showing of the latest Coen Bros. effort, Burn After Reading.

It would be just over two months before we attended another film inside a theatre, when we hit an opening night showing of Quantum of Solace.

Two months without a movie. I do not do this very often.

For me, it almost becomes painful to not go and see a movie at least once a week, if not more. I am at my most relaxed inside a theatre; my most at peace. Even if the movie is unceasingly violent or unfathomably decadent, I am still deeply in peace in the surroundings of the theatre, the smell of the greasy popcorn (which I only buy perhaps one time out of every ten trips or so), the stickiness of the floors (not much of a problem these days) and even in the varied reactions of the audience, either in concert with the events in the film or merely immersed in their own rudeness and ignorance. Whether a positive or negative atmosphere, I am at most complete when I sit inside a theatre. I can breathe, I can think... I feel truly alive. It has little to do with the actual content of the films, since films vary so much from screen to screen. It has everything to do with finding my laughing place, where I am most content and free to be myself.

Even weirder than not seeing a movie for two months was my emergence back into the movie world. Once we started going again, we only saw about four movies together in the next seven weeks. I was feeling ever more disconnected from myself, and while I did fill much of the time with travel and the visiting of relations, odd trips to Disneyland and hanging with friends, I was increasingly ill at ease with myself. The fact that most of my writing was about notes from my travels and non-movie items proves this. I wasn't even watching videos. But I caught Bolt (in 3-D, no less) in Seattle with Tim and Kathryn's boys, and that allowed me to approach what is primarily a kid's flick on the level of a kid (though more like an avuncular babysitter). Even watching merely decent Disney affected far more than it would at any other time, so removed was I from my habit. This provided a needed jumpstart and reminder to me that I was too far gone from my happy place. And while I was able to hit The Tale of Desperaux in Santa Rosa with the M'otises over Xmas, all it chiefly served to do was remind me that I need to get back into the regular swing of things.

Except, looking back, it often seems that I do this near the end of every year, this seeming habit of going to the theatres less than I normally do. Since I tend to get most of my shopping done rather quickly over one weekend or a few days, and since I spend little or no time actually preparing for the holidays, I can't use them as an excuse. It's not like there are any more visitors in-town than there would be at other times of the year eating up my time and attention, so it can't be this. As for travel eating my precious time up, I have already mentioned that my last three trips or vacations in this period, I still managed to find myself inside a theatre at least once at each destination. The problem would seem to be more localized, but it has nothing to do with finding time for both Jen and I to hit films together. While I do tend to wait to see major films (or at least those she in which she is partially interested) with her, I also crawl into a seat on my own with regularity, which is how I manage to visit such dross as Twilight (surprising I have seen it, yes... but also a current and major cultural trend which also spills over, in a very juvenile way, into a genre over which I hold great concern. I had to see it. Plus, there are hot girls in it, so it wasn't a total loss...)

So what is it? I really am at a loss to explain, though perhaps now that I've made myself truly aware of the condition, I can study it closer next year. Something is keeping me from hitting the flicks like my normal self at the close of every year, and it has nothing to do with interesting new films, since I am able to find something of even the most minor interest through the sparsest of release weeks, even in the supposed doldrums of each movie year, post-Oscars to pre-summer and post-summer to pre-holiday rush. And I now get plenty of sunlight, so there is no cabin fever effect here as there was when I still dwelt in Alaska.

Luckily, I always have a way out of this situation, and while it ties in partly with all of the Oscar buzz-worthy films crashing at us like a tidal wave at this time of year (though that is certainly not all I will see), mainly I approach it the same way that I now approach writer's block: I attack it. Just as I will write non-stop about practically anything (such as this topic) just to get myself back on track, I also use a certain holiday to push myself back into the theatre seats.

Though I did not have a name for it then, nor did I know it would become a tradition with me (and, somewhat reluctantly, many of my sleep-deprived friends in the passing parade), twenty-two years ago, I turned New Year's Day into a living resolution: Auld Lang Cine-ma.

(To be continued tomorrow...)


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