Monday, March 08, 2010

at the movies

Once upon a time I was well-versed in the world of new releases. Even if I only went out of my way to see a few of them, I was aware of pretty much every movie that was out or coming out. Of course, living in New York City made the pursuit of my enthusiasm easier. Everything comes to New York. Even the tiny little art film. But times change—especially after one has a child. It's hard to schedule seeing a movie—or to justify the expense with my single mom's salary. With the cost of a babysitter and the movie ticket (and what about a soda or possible treat?) it has seemed less and less of an imperative to see things first-run. Car payment or Sherlock Holmes, Star Trek or Avatar? I'm already paying for cable, so . . .

Just this year I was able to take my daughter to a few films (Up, Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief) and not have to make numerous bathroom runs, or watch her fall asleep, or have to shush her every few scenes. The only movie I saw on my own was the latest Harry Potter. That was this year, right? I get to see most everything I want on-demand at some point anyway. Do you notice a trend? It's not that I don't like the more "quiet" films, but when I do go out to the theater and spend the money, it's usually to see the bigger, more visual films. More bang for my limited bucks.

I used to (co)host semi-elaborate Oscar parties, with ballots and wonderful themed prizes. Who knows. Maybe some day again. Out of force of habit or maybe an enduring love of Steve Martin I found myself checking in and watching some of the telecast last night. What always drew me to the show as a child and still does is of course watching the fashions on the red carpet. But the endless shilling of designer names and jewelry has become a bore. Who cares? It's been said a million times already, but where are Cher or Bjork when you need them? And will someone tell Miley Cyrus to stand up straight? She's too young for the slopey shoulders. Leave it to Robert Downey Jr. to be the most dapper by virtue of some blue-tinted shades. And Ben Stiller successfully silly with some blue-tinted skin and a fishing pole (way better than the proposed Sasha Baron Cohen shtick). And it's always fun to see Steve Martin in bed with another man. He and Alec Baldwin make a cute couple . . . of hosts.

This year I am watching the Oscars as a checklist of films that I will soon be watching on cable. Looking interesting: An Education, Crazy Heart, District 9, Inglourious Basterds, Julie & Julia. I suspect that I am not that different from most folks. The Oscars, beyond anything else, has always functioned as advertising for plenty of films that were just missed by most the first time around. As much as I still enjoy movies, I guess I just don't take them as seriously anymore. Or at least I'm less worried about seeing them when they first come out, when everyone else does. If they actually do—I have no sense from my coworkers if they are seeing all the new movies. There isn't much water cooler talk. Facebook and twitter have replaced all that.

Just a few quick observations. The show is always so god-awful long, so why cut people off mid-speech? But meanwhile they can still fit in meaningless film montages (horror movies?) And why was everyone so serious during Steve & Alec's opening tag-team monologue? George Clooney and Matt Damon, get over yourselves. At least Sandra Bullock and Meryl Streep can laugh at themselves. The clips of those who died last year was as touching as ever. That's the only montage I ever think is worth the screen time.

If I don't make it to the end of the show I can catch the jokes I missed on YouTube tomorrow. But I give team Steve and Alec a thumbs up. Colin Farrell's, Michelle Pfeiffer's, Oprah Winfrey's and Stanley Tucci's best actor and actress intros were so fun I didn't really care about the winners (but yay—the DUDE won!) I think Sandra Bullock was genuinely shocked and probably lost money in her Oscar pool. Pretty cool Kathryn Bigelow got her award from Babs. I'm also happy to see LOST's Michael Giacchino won an award for Up, because the music was a wonderful and integral part of that little gem, which also won best animated film. Hey, I did see a winner this year.

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