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Date Movies vs. Lonely Loser Movies

Until I started teaching in a building that also has a movie theater in it, I never considered seeing a movie by myself (unless it was a sneak preview for a review I was writing). Even when I worked at a movie theater in high school, I was concerned with what my co-workers would have thought of my pimply 16-year-old self seeing a movie on my lonesome when I finished my shift of picking up malt liquor bottles out of the Rugrats in Paris auditorium. Luckily I no longer have shame so I can do just this. However, I also have to save movies for date night with the one and only Jerksica. So let's take a look at which movies end up being crappier: those which I subject myself to after a long day of molding young minds or those which I subject myself to with my overly sarcastic girlfriend.

Date Night Movies

Across the Universe: I won't deny it - the trailer for this movie made it look awesome. The Drax will punch me when I visit him next weekend for reminding him and the rest of the world that I enjoyed Moulin Rouge and Dreamgirls, so I don't know why I wouldn't enjoy a gimmicky visually chaotic musical that uses Beatles songs to "tell a story." Now I'm not going to stick up for the aforementioned hyper-musicals and say they had a great story. But at least they weren't just two hours of exposition without any kind of conflict, thereby rendering it pointless. Like pointless to the point of us considering leaving several times pointless. And the only movie I've ever walked out of was Closer. If it weren't for the sheer curiosity of finding out what songs they ended up using by the end of the movie, I surely would have left. Damn gimmicks. Predicted grade: B. Actual Grade: F.

Death at a Funeral: The voice of Yoda directs a bunch of British dry humorists and Peter Dinklage in a comedy that takes place all at a single funeral? Can't wait to snicker twice (only at Peter Dinklage and maybe one joke that surprises me). The second weekend it's in the theater and it's in the tiniest auditorium with only 3 other people in it on a Saturday night? Oh boy, looks like my predictions are going to be right. Wait, a set-up like this implies that my predictions will be wrong? Well yeah, kinda. It was pretty funny. With a pretty gut-busting last 10 minutes that's worth sitting through 90 minutes of mostly "meh." Predicted grade: C+. Actual Grade: B-.

Superbad/The Bourne Ultimatum: I know, yesterday's news, right? Regardless, I haven't mentioned either in this space since I've actually seen them, so I must at least touch on them. Not much to say because agreeing with the majority of the population is admittedly boring, but here we have two of my favorite movies of the year (but probably not artsy enough to make it on my inevitably esoteric Top 10 list come January). And of course, I thought they would just be dumbly entertaining and they turned out to be deeply intelligent and/or emotional in a completely endearing and exciting way. Predicted Grades: B+/B-. Actual Grade for Both: A-.

Date Night Average = C+

Lonely Late Afternoon Matinees

The Invasion: Giddy about working in a building that also has a movie theater, I would obviously see anything as I was preparing for the first day of school during training week. Why not a remake of a remake? The whole Body Snatchers story was vaguely interesting to me as a kid discovering the Sci-Fi Channel for the first time, and I have conflicted feelings about whether Nicole Kidman is a wicked ice queen or a total fox, so I faux-reluctantly wandered into the theater on my own, with my messenger bag full of novels. And no one else with me. So weird. I had to get over it, though, I had some wish-I-was-a-summer-blockbuster to watch. Wow it's hard to stay awake after a long day of lesson planning. Predicted Grade: D. Actual Grade: D.

Eastern Promises: An argument over the representation of sexual violence in Cronenberg's last film A History of Violence almost got me to sleep on the couch one night (nerd couple alert!), so I didn't even ask Jerksica if she wanted to see his new movie. Hmm turns out there's reasons to see movies on your own, like saving a relationship...that's a decent enough reason. I knew nothing about the Russian mafia going in, and that made the simple and natural yet exquisite plot twists all the more effective. So did incredibly solid what-are-his-real-motivations performances from all the characters. And yet...Naomi Watts shows us that regardless of acting ability, you can't save a male-dominated movie from underdeveloping its female protagonist. Predicted Grade: A-. Actual Grade: B+.

3:10 to Yuma: I had so little interest in Westerns before I was forced to watch Unforgiven in Film Study freshman year of college that I was convinced that I would hate them if I ever had to see one, even though I had never seen more than 30 seconds of one. Yet there I went, the impressionable 18-year-old gobbling up metaphors, symbolism, and socio-political theories about the male prowess of Clint Eastwood returning to the Western. And suddenly it all clicked. Westerns are totally awesome. A world that once existed but has completely been restructured in everyone's minds because of the movies - a realistic fantasy. With lots of guns and so much rule-breaking! And finally, the first movie since L.A. Confidential where I do not hate Russell Crowe with a fiery passion. Predicted Grade: B-. Actual Grade: A.

Lonely Matinee Average - C

So the winner is date movies by a hair, but maybe not because I don't really know how to average letters. I tried the grade point thing, but what is an A-? 3.5? Then what is a B+? Do we go by thirds? Geeze, I'm not up for that. Let's say date movies win out so I don't have more reason to continue seeing movies by myself.

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  1. Blogger P. Arty | 11:14 PM |  

    Embrace lonerism, Polley! Seriously, I love seeing movies by myself. Especially versus the alternative of seeing them with him (points at Brammer).

    Anyway, I will read the rest of the post now, and maybe even comment again!

  2. Blogger P. Arty | 11:16 PM |  

    Comment 2: You can walk out of a movie theater playing Closer, Polley, but you can't walk out of my apartment when you're staying with me and I make you watch Closer. Never forget that.

  3. Blogger P. Arty | 11:32 PM |  

    Uh oh, Polley, I don't know about your math. I have Loner Movies beating Date Movies. Check it:

    I assumed grades are uniformly distributed between F- (1/15) and A+ (15/15), with the increment between a base letter and a plus (or between a minus and the base grade) being 1/15 in all cases. Add up the value of each grade, and I get:

    DATE: .133 + .667 + .867 + .867 = 2.533

    LONER: .333 + .800 + .933 = 2.067

    Dividing by the count in each category, you get:

    DATE: 2.533 / 4 = .633 (half way between a C+ and a B-)

    LONER: 2.067 / 3 = .689 (1/3 of the way between a B- and a B).

    MORAL OF THE STORY: SEE MORE MOVIES ALONE. Of course, you have to consider the sample size. Why don't you take statistics on these movies for a year, and then we might have a credible dataset.

    Alright, three is all you get! GOOD. NIGHT.

  4. Blogger Dave | 8:57 AM |  

    "You can walk out of a movie theater playing Closer, Polley, but you can't walk out of my apartment when you're staying with me and I make you watch Closer."

    Loved that comment.

    Nice write up, Poll-a-sore. I want to check out that 3:10 to Yuma whenever it comes out on DVD. I'm really sad to say that living in Chicago has completely destroyed my interest in going to movies in the theater; the people here are just so insanely rude and annoying that I'll go see the occasional thing, but never get excited about it.

    I should start organizing movie trips up to Brookfield.

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