I know, I'm a bit late to the party. And I don't have a lot to add at the moment. No, that isn't true. I have a lot to add in terms of having a wonderful Christmas with my parents in NYC, taking about a week and a half off from work, seeing movie after movie after movie, getting a cold and then getting slammed with work in my first week back and working until 3 am one night (morning?) last week only to turn around and throw a brunch for a group of women lawyers I organized on Saturday and doing six loads of laundry Sunday night in between working at my dining room table and hanging out on conference calls (sunday calls are just plain cruel).
And now you are all caught up. For the most part.
Oh, what movies did I see in my great movie-watching binge and what might I recommend? Well, I saw Nine at my favorite old theater in the City - the Ziegfeld - on the one day I attempted to go to work the week between Christmas and New Year's. It felt like such a splurge to leave the office at 330 or so to see a 4 pm movie on a Tuesday. The Ziegfeld is a huge old time one screen theater but I arrived early enough to get popcorn and a soda (my dinner) and stake out a good seat in the middle. I had the perfect seat in the center with no one sitting directly in from of me and no one directly behind me and the row to myself but for a couple sat near the aisle several seats away to my right but then - THEN! - a couple wandered into my row on the right and scootched closer and closer. The previews had already started and they left the minimum buffer of one seat. With all the empty seats in the theater it seemed weird to me that they would only leave one seat in between us. But then it became even weirder when the man part of the couple remained in his chosen seat and the woman stood up, removed her coat, placed it in the seat she had briefly occupied and plopped herself into the seat next to me! To be clear, this theater is HUGE. According to Wikipedia it seats 1,131 people. There were maybe 80 people scattered around the huge theater. And by scattered I mean it, the other 78 courteous and normal people surrounding us left a good 3-4 seat buffer between them and the next stranger. Sure, this isn't a luxury one can normally expect in a movie-going experience but at a 4 pm show on December 29th in a theater that seats 825 in the orchestra section alone with great views of the screen from pretty much any location, it is a luxury I expect.
What did I do?
I sat there for a minute as the previews rolled getting irritated. Then, I picked my purse and coat up out of the seat to my right (wishing I had thought to pile it all in the seat to my left where the oblivious intruder was seated fidgeting with her boots and coming dangerously close to toppling her soda) and moved everything over one seat in a huff. I won't exaggerate and say the whole experience was ruined, but it was significantly tainted.
But the movie ruined the rest of the experience all on its own. Redeeming points: Kate Hudson's song and dance number was catchy and visually stimulating - everything was light and bright and flashy in a movie that was mostly morose and dark. And she was good! The sparkly sequins and quick tempo was both the literal bright point and figurative bright point of the whole movie. Also, Fergie's number was great. Sure, she plays some sort of depressing singing prostitute but the "Be Italian" number was sultry and impossible to get out of your head once it embeds itself there.
Everything else? Dull. Duller than dull. The whole movie I felt like I was waiting for it to get better, for something to happen, to figure out where the number 9 comes from . . . there are 7 women so that isn't it. Either they were way too subtle for me or I fell asleep during the part where the title came into play. And if they didn't hint at an explanation? Well, then Nine is a dumb name.
On New Year's Eve I saw the much-hyped Avatar. Somehow I had never heard of this movie until the day it was being released when people were freaking out over how excited they were to see it and how they were all waiting in long lines for it. I guess I just wasn't the target audience. My sister saw it on IMAX and warned me that I would probably get a migraine if I saw it. A friend organized a NYE morning outing and lucky for me the IMAX was sold out so we settled for a regular screen with 3D. It was a snowy morning and it was fun to skip another day of work and go to a movie theater instead. Worried about the headache factor I bought a small Coke Zero before entering the theater and used the bathroom just before the movie started. Word to the wise, if you have not seen this movie yet, go to the bathroom at the last possible minute before it starts and do not consume any liquids during. It is LOOOOOOOONG! And the last hour or so I was completely distracted by the fear that my bladder would explode. When one friend crawled out I considered following her but convinced myself the movie couldn't last too much longer. But it did. And even longer than that. I'm too lazy to look up the time on this thing but I think it was at least 3 hours. Probably more with all the getting there early to save seats, watch previews, etc.
But overall? I liked it. IMAX most definitely would have made me throw up with the 3D and flashing lights but on a regular screen it was tolerable. And kind of cool. And since I was there with friends I didn't care that people were sitting right next to me :) Oh, and because the theater was crowded with geeky fanboys who cheered every once in a while which added to the experience.
The movie followed with lunch with two friends was a great way to end 2009 (sure it didn't end for several hours but who really cares about the symbolism or patheticness or whatever of standing on one's roof at midnight with strangers from one's building watching the ball drop and fireworks from a distance in yoga pants while a movie is paused in the empty apartment down below).
Continuing my movie going gluttony, I saw another movie on New Year's day shortly after having brunch with out of town friends. It was an impulsive choice based on convenience - I ran a couple of errands after brunch, saw the theater and wandered in to see if anything good was playing. Sherlock Holmes was starting in two minutes so I bought a ticket. So fun! I had tried to get my parents to see this the day after Christmas but neither of them had heard anything about it and could not be convinced. They should regret that my persuasive skills failed me because they will love this movie and I suspect you will too. It hit all the right points for an action-adventure movie. Robert Downey, Jr. is fantastic, as is Jude Law. They have a good dynamic together and the dialogue is fun. Things are a bit over the top as one would expect but not in a completely ridiculous way. Fun, fun, fun. Glad I saw it.
And finally, Saturday night I dragged a reluctant friend to see The Blind Side. I say reluctant because although this was the previously agreed upon movie, as we were walking to the theater she started suggesting alternatives that might be "more uplifting". Despite all the movies I had been to recently, this was the one I had been wanting to see the most, it just wasn't playing at the theaters I was dropping by at the last minute. You see, I read the book The Blind Side a couple of years ago. No, I devoured the book and it was passed around my family to such an extent that we pretty much felt like Michael Oher's story belongs to us. Michael Lewis (author of the book) is an excellent writer and has a way of taking complex non-fiction topics (like working at a wall street investment bank in the 80s in Liar's Poker) and making them personal. The story of Michael Oher is far from an impersonal non-fiction one but the lengthy background details about the football position of left tackle could easily lose a large segment of the population - even those who love football. But Lewis boils it down to the point where it is not just easy to read and understand - you want to read and understand whatever it is he is writing (which is why Moneyball is on my to read shelf). After I finished reading The Blind Side, I googled Michael Oher because his story was so heartwarming, I wanted to know where he ended up. He was still in college but was soon drafted in the first round of the 2009 NFL drafted to the Baltimore Ravens. Wow, I haven't even told you what this movie is about so let me back up a few steps. The movie (and the book) is the story of Michael Oher, a black teenager from the projects of Memphis who had been removed from his drug addicted mother's care and was falling through the cracks of foster care (primarily because he kept running back to find his mom). He was huge and for various reasons ended up enrolled in a private Christian school where he floundered until a white family adopted him and he discovered an extremely rare athletic ability.
I told my movie companion I would see another movie with her that night if she wanted and crossed my fingers that nothing else would be available and luckily it wasn't. Twenty minutes into the movie she leaned over and told me "good choice." I think she thought I was dragging her to a football movie. Technically, yes, I was. But The Blind Side is about so much more than football. It is about the willingness of a family to accept a stranger into their home and fight for him as if he had been born to them. It is a story about how it is never too late to help someone who could be written off as too dumb, too undereducated and too late to help. In other words, I loved the movie as much as I had hoped I would. I loved it as much as I loved the book! And that is hard to do. But Sandra Bullock was fantastic and after her performance in "The Proposal" earlier in 2009, she is on my new favorite actresses list.
So that at least catches you up on where I stand on movies since I've been away. I won't make any promises about regular postings quite yet because my schedule is pretty erratic right now, but I promise I have some good ideas and the intention to post some of them soon. Thanks for sticking around to hear what I've got to say. I'm looking forward to good things in 2010.