Auld Lang Cine-ma - Part II

On New Year's Day, 1987, I dragged a handful of friends to a theatre, and the bulk of them sat through at least three of the five films I saw that day.

I can no longer name all five of the films I saw on that turning of the year, though with research I could probably piece together the last one. We definitely saw the musical remake version of Little Shop of Horrors, No Mercy (which truly sucked, mostly due to Kim Basinger not having learned how to act yet and because Richard Gere is a general dickhead), Witchboard (once again, truly sucked), a forgotten fourth film, and somewhere in there, in the last example of my sneaking into a movie unpaid, we took advantage of the low security in the Fireweed Theatre and crept into King Kong Lives, the abhorrent though somehow endearing (I blame Linda Hamilton's breasts) sequel to a generally stinky remake of my favorite film of all time. (See, I was right to have ended my criminal career sneaking into it, but we also snuck into Witchboard as well.)

Over the next two-plus decades, there have been only five occasions where I have not seen at least three films during the course of each day. One two of those outstanding occasions, time and/or money allowed me the opportunity to only see a pair of films each, and on the remaining pair of occasions, I missed out altogether on seeing any films, either due to illness of a death-dealing variety (a particularly nasty flu one year) and two due to spousal unrest in the dark days of the early '90s.

Otherwise, once the hour turns to midnight the night before, just as everyone is buzzing buzzers, hooting hooters, throwing confetti and kissing anyone within reasonable distance of their lips, my thoughts immediately turn to determining just how early I can get my friends or significant other at any given time up in the morning to hit the movie theatre. Most often, this involved me going to a late morning matinee on my own, and then having everyone else meet up with me at various points throughout the holiday to take part in my own personal form of righting the madness. Lest you think I take the attendance of these things lightly, it was on one particular occasion that Jen, in the days when we were barely friends and more in the way of glorified acquaintances, stuck about to fight our way through Costner's The Postman (I stress to this day, please read David Brin's book instead). While I had yet to form any feelings toward her at that point beyond general attraction, the fact that she remained about while others ditched on me (a couple other pals stayed as well), and even sat by me, certainly made me give more notice to her.

And now, with 2008 turning into 2009, I dragged Jen out of our extremely comfortable bed to hit an early afternoon showing of Slumdog Millionaire, followed that up immediately with Frost/Nixon, and then take a short break to grab In-N-Out across the street from Cinema City, before we closed out the day (a bit earlier than we planned) with The Spirit. (We had also dialed in time to hit Four Christmases late in the evening, but the need to feed the kids and the fact that I needed to work on Friday rather killed a four-film plan).

The day became one in which we managed to take in one film which had been nagging me for a few weeks (Slumdog, which was exquisite, though taxing at times) due to my overall theatrical malaise, one (Frost/Nixon) which, like the previous film, will surely garner a passel of Oscar nominations, and then one which there was no doubt I would go see (The Spirit) due both to its source material, of which I possess a decent pile of reprint material in magazines and comics, and also due to its director/writer, Frank Miller. That it turned out to be a most souring experience probably spoke more to my overfamiliarity with that material and general high hopes for the project; there were others around us clearly enjoying it, while others were openly hostile as they left the showing before us, so it seems the movie very much inspires a mixed bag of emotions. (Of course, don't all movies do that? Or shouldn't all movies do that? After all, I know assorted people who despise Citizen Kane, Casablanca and The Wizard of Oz for disparate reasons, most of them out of sheer idiocy. To each their own, I guess...)

I didn't want to go home, but we had to. I could have easily stayed up all night watching movies, if only they would have let us, or had the facilities to do so. The New Year's rush always gets me back in the game, and assuredly, we have since hit The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, and we/I have plans to hit at least three films Thursday through Sunday coming up. I say "we/I" because Jen does not wish to go to the remake of The Day the Earth Stood Still with me. The original is on my list of all-time favorites, and is extremely precious to me, but I am going to hit a Saturday matinee of it, because I just have to know what the hell they might have done to it. If indeed it is a true trainwreck of a story sacred to me, I will rail against it. Contrariwise, should it prove to be astonishingly decent, I will say so. But I cannot just sit idly by while they possibly ravage Day... I just have to know.

Which begs the question: Is there a switch inside me that turns to "idle" at the close of each year, that indeed makes me sit idly by while the remake of Day is out for weeks? Hard to figure, but something is going on that doesn't jibe with my usual zest for seeing any film at any time in any situation (the rule by which I live my cinematic life). But, thanks to my annual New Year's antics, the point is I am now fully engaged, for whatever mysterious reason, into seeing films again. The cure is the disease is the cure.

To Auld Lang Cine-ma!


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