Wednesday, January 04, 2006


Movie-going (or the lack thereof)

The other day, Allison and I were trying to remember what movies we'd seen in the theater in 2005. We'd knew we'd been once or twice, but couldn't for the life of us remember what we'd seen (except for Bewitched, which is a stain we'll never be able to wash out).

Today it occurred to me that, since we purchase all of our movie tickets on Fandago, our account history might keep a record of what we'd purchased recently. Lo and behold, it keeps a total record going back to the account being set-up back in May of 2002. What a treasure trove of potentially crappy memories!

Here is a complete list of everything I've seen in a theater in almost four years. When Allison and I were first dating, we used to go to the theater at least once a week, sometimes more. After a while, we soured a bit on the whole theater-going experience, and cut back to venturing out only things that we thought would benefit from being seen on the big screen, as opposed to waiting for the DVD. Then, in February 0f 2004, we had a baby, and a movie had to be really special to get us to find a babysitter and get out of the house.

This is probably of little interest to anyone (hell, it's not even that interesting to me), but the numbers break down like this:

Total movies seen in
2002: 10 (partial year, probably a higher number)
2003: 9
2004: 3
2005: 4

A couple of caveats. Some of these movies I saw alone (such as Fantastic Four, which I watched only because I was scheduled for a panel at WorldCon about superhero movies, and figured I'd want to be able to complain about it. I did.), but for most of them it was me and Allison together. And since we have a small social circle and no life, we saw them without company, by and large. Finally, I plead guilty for choosing Bewitched, which the trailer had convinced me might be a bit of metafictional brilliance and, well, wasn't, but I stand by Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle. I'm not a McG fan, and I thought the sequel not as good as the original, but the original was a lot of fun, and I'll arm-wrestle anyone who says different (I may lose, but I'll still be willing to arm-wrestle to prove the point).

Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones
Minority Report
The Bourne Identity
Men In Black II
Austin Powers in Goldmember
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers
Die Another Day
Star Trek: Nemesis

X2: X-Men United
The Matrix Reloaded
Finding Nemo
The Hulk
Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle
The Matrix Revolutions
Master and Commander
The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King

Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow
Team America: World Police
The Incredibles

Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith
Batman Begins
Fantastic Four

So, what have I learned? First, becoming a parent seriously impacts your ability to go to the theater. Second, NetFlix is a powerful temptation, when faced with the prospect of over-priced tickets and a theater full of chattering morons. And finally, I'm a sucker for anything Pixar, sfnal or superhero-y, apparently (though Post-Georgia even something like Serenity or MirrorMask wasn't enough to get me to the theater, with me opting just to buy the DVDs of each, sight-unseen) which means that The Incredibles was a movie-going perfect storm for me.

I'm half-tempted now to go back and look at my NetFlix rental history, to see how it changed in the same period. Hmmm...

I congratulate you on your pro-Charlie's Angels stance. I suspect that had those two clever, inventive, Romantic and surreal movies starred three chaps then their collective reputation would be much higher. They take a moment to tune into, because what they're trying to do is different to what just about anyone else has ever been trying to do, but they hit their targets exactly. The nearest thing I can think of is Yellow Submarine.
An interesting comparison, Paul. I think the movie wasn't helped at all by sharing a name and concept with such a poorly remembered and ill-regarded TV franchise (though, that said, the continuity geek in me was delighted when they made explicit that this was the same timeline as the original series, with portraits of the TV cast on the walls of the headquarters and the cameo appearance by Jaclyn Smith).

I thought that the rapid-fire editing and condensed storytelling of Full Throttle was really remarkable. They established in the first flick that this was a world that followed the narrative rules of 70s episodic television, which meant that they didn't *have* to show you everything, just enough of any particular sequence for the viewer to fill in the rest. In Full Throttle they cranked that up even higher, condensing entire sequences into single scenes (The Dirt Bike race, for instance, has virtually no set up whatsoever, but plunges straight from the last scene into the action; but the viewer knows exactly everything that took place in the interim, because of the formula they're following, without having to be shown).

Compare and contrast with the excerable Starsky & Hutch feature film, which failed so abysmally to capture a similar vibe. Yikes!
I only saw the first Charlie's Angels, not the sequel, but loved it so much I bought it. No, correct that. I bought it sight unseen, then happily loved it. (The woman I dated at the time singled it out as an abysmal film. So when we broke up, I picked it up immediately and was happy to discover it didn't suck).
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