Home Alone

WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT KEVIN

It didn’t matter if you went to school a few miles from Columbine like I did, or you went to school half way across the country. The shooting still left the same mark on everyone’s psyche.

I’ve seen three films now that have attempted to talk about school massacres. They were all pretentious messes. “Elephant”, “The Life Before Her Eyes” (easily the worst of the bunch, by a mile), and now “We Need to talk About Kevin”.

I remember liking “Elephant” and in fact I still own the DVD. But there is something gravely wrong with that movie. Van Sant puts distance between us and the event, despite how realistic he tries to make it. We roam the halls of a real high school, following real high school kids who have never acted before. But by the nature of this method, we feel we are watching a movie, and the reality seems to be missing. Why did I like the film? For completely unrelated reasons. I thought he did a good job of capturing what a high school sounded like, better than any film I’d seen up to that point. I thought his technique was interesting. He drifted through those hallways as if from the POV of a stoned student with senioritis who bails on his classes and just…walks around for awhile. Interesting! I don’t recall seeing a film quite like it before or since.

Still, it lacked honesty about the subject it was addressing, and I feel the same way about the other movies I listed. “We Need to talk About Kevin” does not feel earnest to me. It feels plotted, purposeful, and too manipulative for me to take it seriously. If it’s not going to take this subject seriously then I’m not going to take it seriously either.

In this film, I don’t know what Kevin is. A friend I saw the film with says he is a construct of his mother’s hate. Because Eva (Tilda Swinson, who is incredible in this movie) seems to detest him from the minute he’s born. Obviously there are women who have PPD, but this has to be the most harrowing, on-the-verge-of-murder PPD I’ve ever seen. So is it only natural the boy becomes…demonic?

No, not exactly. I am sure many mothers who go through PPD end up raising very good sons and daughters. The film very clearly makes the point that if the boy was only a little bit more – human – then Eva would not find him so strange and difficult to raise. But she has a hell of a time with it. Contrast it with his father (played by John C Reilly) who isn’t noticing one damn thing out of the blue about him. So really, the title of the film becomes deliciously ironic. They never talk about Kevin, even though they probably should.

So what’s the warning on the label then? Is it, “not addressing your kid’s weird quirkiness may result in a school massacre someday.”

The massacre is what really confuses me. I’m not sure why it’s in the movie. Worse still, the massacre is saved for the climax and we are constantly teased about it right until it happens. We get glimpses of police lights, strange buzzing sounds, screams…and we don’t know what it all means until they are finally put together in a straight sequence at the end. I will say the technique was handled very well, and I have nothing but respect for the way they held out information. I felt it was building…but towards what?

Here is yet another film where reality is blurred through a prism. In this case, that prism is the little boy. It was impossible for me to take the character seriously. Every word of dialogue felt straight from a screenwriter’s brain. This character, at all stages of his “life” – from a boy to a teenager, felt too “movie-ish”. It was a role. It was not a character. You could have plucked this boy out of the movie and inserted him into a horror film and at least that would have been more honest.

I feel there is a good foundation of a story here. Certainly any parent can relate to the situation where their son or daughter does something gravely stupid and lets them down. Maybe not on the scale of say, mass murder, but the seed of it is an excellent subject. I just think they made a fatal mistake by using a school massacre as the seed. That is still a heavy cloud on the country’s psyche, in the way 9/11 always will be. Like many 9/11 movies (particularly any involving Nicholas Cage as a firefighter) the film does not handle the subject with the honesty I would expect to see. Best 9/11 movie might be “United 93”. We don’t yet have a “united 93” for school massacres.

Not that I’d ever want to see one…

 

 

 

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Best of ’11

It’s that time of year again where we make lists of movies we’ve seen and leave out the ones we haven’t but pretend like we saw those anyway.

Here’s a top five, since I can’t really commit to ten without having seen a lot of the movies now on awards lists.

5. MARTHA MARCY MAY MARLENE

I’ll never get this title right. It’s been the only roadblock to recommending the movie, though. Everything about it is impressive, and I’m not sure where to start. It’s about a girl who runs away from a cult and joins up with her older sister and her sister’s husband. She leaves one “family” for another, but can’t seem to reconcile what happened to her. There are flashbacks to her time at the “compound” which is actually a pretty legimate looking place you could hardly call a cult. It’s one of those “sustainable” places where people live off the land. Its leader is played by John Hawkes as a really tender villain. He will drug you, rape you, then sing you a song and try to make you fall in love with him. He seems like just the type of person who could start a cultish movement and get away with heinous sick, weird things that ruin other people’s lives.

This movie felt completely plausible and unpredictable. I can’t remember the last time I saw something that left me with so much anxiety about where it was heading. It felt like a really well done horror film.

It’s the debut of Elizabeth Olson, the third Olson sister, if you’re counting. It’s also the debut film for director Sean Durkin. Expect good things to come from both.

I also have a hard time comparing the film to any other. The closest genre I could compare it to would be the home-invasion thriller. But instead of a physical home invasion, it’s completely psychological.

4. THE ADVENTURES OF TIN TIN

Give Spielberg motion cap technology and about 170 million dollars, and he’ll do something amazing. When it comes to adventure films you can’t bet against the man. Here’s a high rollicking story filled with “derring-do” based on a comic almost no Americans have heard of. I knew of it when I was kid because there was a cartoon series on HBO, but obviously never picked up the comic books. No matter – it’s not a hard mythology to get behind. It’s about an intrepid red haired journalist and his dog. That’s really it. The rest is just adventure, adventure, and more adventure. I loved the epic sweep of this movie, taking us from place to place and doing it pretty smoothly. Even its flashbacks to swash-buckling pirates made total sense. I often hear the word “set piece” to describe action sequences in a movie. This movie is almost one giant set piece. Towards the end there’s a 3 minute set piece where the camera doesn’t cut away once. It’s painstakingly choreographed and perfectly executed, and it wouldn’t have been possible to achieve without mo-cap technology. Once you see that, you’ll understand what compelled Speilberg to finally embrace this technology. Because with The Beard, it has to be something special. And I think this is finally the movie that takes the technology to its highest level. It doesn’t hurt that the “uncanny valley” effect is gone here. Finally! No more dead doll eyes.

3. MONEYBALL

This is on a lot of best of lists and with good reason. Adapting books is hard. Adapting them when there’s no central main character can be especially hard. And when that book is about baseball statistics, what does that leave you with? This is a really compelling study about a game most of us love and some of us hate. I fall in the middle. Sometimes it’s great and sometimes it’s like watching paint dry. A movie about baseball might be a turn off for you but fear not! This is about something bigger. It’s about the Davids of the world trying to outsmart the Goliaths, with less money.

I could see something like this getting a ton of awards around Oscar time. It seems like a perfect shoe-in for Best Screenplay, Best Film, Best Director. Who knows if that will happen. This is a pretty small movie playing its own version of moneyball against the bigger dramas this year.

I take that back. Apparently its budget was $50,000,000. You don’t put that kind of money into a movie about an Oakland A’s baseball manager. So they were definitely trying to swing for the awards fences. It’s kind of stupid they spent that much money on this, now that I think about it. That is some irony.

2. RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES

I would have never expected this to be so good. If a movie has talking CGI monkeys I will never feel okay about its chances. But here was a talking CGI monkey movie where the characters make you feel sympathy for their cause. You end up siding with the monkeys, instead of the humans. In the past the monkeys have been the villains and the humans were the “lesser” species who had to fight to reclaim their future. But I like the direction this story took, which is the “origin” movie that eventually leads to all those sequels. This film is just creative and inventive enough to take the series in a completely new direction if they decide on doing that. And I’ll be on board the train.

1. THE DESCENDANTS

My favorite film of 2011. Granted there’s still a lot I haven’t seen, like Tree of Life, The Artist, and others.

And to be honest, I’ve never liked Alexander Payne’s movies. They were always crushingly depressing, even with their comedic undertones. Here, they are comedic overtones. Payne just seems to keep on getting better in the “is this a drama or is this a dark comedy” saga that he keeps playing out in each of his films.

The Descendants may be his bleakest yet in terms of subject matter, but it’s also his most realistic and I think least crushingly depressing. It’s the story of a man (George Clooney) who loses his wife to a boating accident (she’s in a coma) and is forced to take care of his two daughters. Then he learns his wife was cheating on him, and his feelings about her become incredibly confused.There’s also a subplot involving his stake in some Hawaiian land.

It’s not a comedy. But it’s honest, and that makes it okay for us to laugh in spite of all the strange and terrible things that plight this unique family. That is also what I really admired about the film. I felt like I was seeing a real family, not a movie family. For an example of a movie family, see the movie “Spanglish”.

Horror doubleheader

THE WOMAN

Here’s a film that will make you appreciate your family. A rural psychotic husband/father takes in a feral woman from the woods and tries to civilize her. In the process he alienates his wife and daughter, but forms a strange bond with his son.

I would have given the film higher marks if it didn’t go into self-destruct mode in the last twenty minutes. The film is quiet and restrained for the majority of its running time before it goes completely crazy. Usually I like crazy in my films, especially when they test my patience the way this did. It’s got a two hour running time and honestly this would have been a much more effective short film had the director condensed its best elements. The stuff at the end just nullifies everything that preceded it. It makes watching this movie feel like a waste of time.

But hey – it happens. Sometimes when you make movies about abducted feral women you have to fly off the handle a little. Spoilers the rest of the way.

I was buying the idea of this crazy father trying to “civilize” the woman – until the discovery that he’s also got a feral daughter in his barn. That is what plummets the whole movie into irrelevancy. Because the whole family is involved with that one – not just the father. And we know so little of the backstory to it, that it’s pointless having it in there. You might as well keep a giant monster in your barn. It will have identical implications for your story. All that says to me is, this whole family is sick and they have bigger issues than just a sociopath for a father.

For awhile you think that’s where the story is headed. How will they deal with this crazy father figure ruling the roost? But if everyone is to blame for keeping a family member in the barn, then which member of this family can we identify  with? They have a little 5-7 year old girl who’s just about as innocent as they get, so there is some hope for the future of this family. But it’s not looking good.

On top of it all, it’s just not fun watching abusive families in movies. Especially when the outcome is so uncertain, as it is here. The son is in alliance with the father. He’s as sick as his old man. The older daughter is as spineless as her mother. It’s all so sad and hopeless. I was surprised by the tone of this film – I anticipated something more entertaining. It just became a big downer of a movie.

TUCKER AND DALE VS EVIL

A good antidote to the sad tone of The Woman are the two best characters in horror to come around in a long time: Tucker and Dale!

This movie meshes funny characters with a great concept to create a gory and wildly entertaining time in the woods. I feel like this is the movie that’s been missing from the horror genre. Even though it is a comedy with horror movie conventions, even down to a climactic third act chase. This is a real clever spin on the genre, where the “killers” are actually just bumbling hillbillies who are mistaken to be more dangerous than they are. Brilliant concept! This is funnier than Scary Movie, more intelligent with its gags, and bloodier too. So why isn’t this a major release?

It’s not a perfect movie by any means. But this is the first feature from Eli Craig. It’s still competently made, the comedic timing is perfect, and the casting was excellent. So I am pretty confused why it didn’t get more love in theaters. I suppose like with many movies it will find its audience on video and on demand. I have no doubts about that. This is just too good to pass up. See it immediately.

Slow in the fast lane

DRIVE

The danish director Nicolas Winding Refn has mentioned the impetus for “Drive” in many interviews. He met with Ryan Gosling, who wanted him to be the director. The meeting didn’t go so well. They get in a car, listen to an REO Speedwagon song, and suddenly Refn has it: “Drive” is a movie about a guy who drives in his car and listens to songs. He tells Ryan this, weeping with relief or joy or some combination of both. They both agreed, and went to make the movie.

With the exception of one or two sequences depicting Gosling in his car, chewing on his toothpick, with gloved hands clutching the steering wheel a little too tightly, I thought Nicolas was full of crap when he told that story. Don’t be fooled. This is not a minimalist low key movie about a getaway driver. I think the first third may be a decent argument for that, but the rest of the story is generic, grade B mobster movie stuff that left me wondering what movie Nicolas set out to make.

There’s a scene towards the end where Ryan’s character stalks a mobster on a dark beach, wearing a mask. The whole concept looks like it was taken out of a John Carpenter movie. It was evocative, and very effective, but completely incongruous with everything that preceded it.

I felt there were several kinds of movies here, with all different styles at play. Refn references Michael Mann with his overhead night time LA shots. He references Tarantino with his overt violence. He calls up Carpenter at the end, on the beach. Under different circumstances I would have appreciated everything mashed up like that. Refn is singling himself out by pushing style over substance. But it is not a singular vision. It’s muddled. Here’s a movie where that experiment falls short of the goal line.

Style is what a director brings. Story is what a screenwriter brings. Let the former serve the latter under most circumstances. Unless you are David Lynch, or Refn’s older counterpart, Lars Von Trier. Then you may have some room to maneuver around the script because of pedigree. Generally Refn’s style is to subsume dialogue in favor of silent storytelling. Visually that is probably the most interesting thing you can try to do. Difficult, but ultimately rewarding, right? Let a look between two people say more than words ever can.

A lot of those moments come between Ryan Gosling, Michelle Williams and Oscar Isaac. It’s a dramatic triangle that shows the most interesting directions that the movie can go. But after a heist gone wrong, it’s cut far too short (about 1/3 into the movie), leaving us with nothing else as interesting, except generic B movie mobster movie boredom.

The mobsters in this movie talk as if their dialogue was written by a screenwriter who just watched Pulp Fiction and set out to write his own version of that movie. Frankly I was surprised by the generic level of mobster-speak. I was surprised by the generic story choices, eschewing a compelling love story in favor of a routine mob plot.

There is nothing less interesting to me than bad mobster movies. I just don’t relate to guys who act like hardasses going around stabbing and shooting their way through an arcane underworld.  They are caricatures I have seen one hundred times before. I’m not super intrigued by intense violence either, unless it is driven by a dramatic context that feels emotional. (yes, Tarantino is the master of it)

The violence in this movie is not emotional. I was laughing during the most egregious violence. Probably not the intended effect, I am guessing. The violence comes with a certain fetishism. It would probably exist in this movie whether the script dictated it or not.

In the end, “Drive” is just another bad mob movie. Set aside the new wave (or is it new new wave if it’s made today) soundtrack, and the deep, penetrating looks from Ryan Gosling, and I don’t really know how entertained I would have been otherwise. While I am glad to see Albert Brooks on screen, I don’t really think playing a violent mobster was anything inspired. Brooks is a charming guy. He charmed his way through the 80s and 90s. Here it’s just a variation on the mobster character. Mobsters are always charming. They always pretend to be a good friend and then they do something violent that contradicts their character. Not a big surprise. At first I thought Refn made a smart choice casting Brooks, and in retrospect I resent that he was even used.

This is the Zodiac speaking.

ZODIAC

The first time I saw All The President’s Men in high school I kept thinking, how is this a movie? Two guys fumble around Washington, talk to a bunch of people on the phone. I didn’t get it. I was mad at my English teacher for showing it to us.

Years later, I was more sensitive to the milieu of the time and place. The verisimilitude of these two journalists, unraveling this conspiracy with some phones and cracker jack investigative reporting. I liked the cool emotion exhibited from Woodward and Bernstein. I liked watching the procedure, the chase. I’m not particularly in love with the film, but I think it’s hell of a lot more interesting than Chinatown, where I really didn’t give a shit about the story at all.

Zodiac is very much similar to these films in style and tone but with a much–much more interesting screenplay.

You know the script is working when you’re still trying to find “clues” to the murderer within the movie, knowing full well in reality the case was never solved. You so badly want that moment where Graysmith comes up to Arthur Lee Allen and says, “I know it was you, motherfucker.” By Graysmith’s account something like it happened, but it was more tasteful. Graysmith walks into the Ace Hardware where Allen works, and he just stares him down. It’s an unspoken message: “I know it was you, motherfucker.”

And it’s in the movie. It’s the only moment of reconciliation we can get. But boy I’m glad it was in there.

It takes a special kind of fucked up person to go as deep into the case as Robert Graysmith did. He came out the other end without his wife, and a broken family–but he did get the book deal, which ended up being turned into a movie. He was played by Jake Gyllenhaal. It wasn’t all in vain.

Just recently, a codebreaker claims to have solved the Z-340, one of the unsolved ciphers. He was inspired to try it after watching this movie. And he in turn hopes others will try to solve it if his solution turns out to be wrong.

I don’t know what it is about people who love police procedurals like CSI, or the people that do the Sunday Times crosswords. But god love them. They seemed to be the demographic for the Zodiac, who became infamous through his ciphers with the San Francisco Chronicle. Even if they only say things like “I like killing people”, we have some bizarre fixation on unlocking codes, solving things. Whether it’s sodoku or the Z-340, our brains are wired to correct things. Find meanings, especially when they’re hidden.  We all have a little bit of that inside us. The obsessive compulsion.

That’s why it’s fun to watch Graysmith comb over every detail of the case. We want him to get it right. Especially with so much on the line for him. But the time line is also eerie. Each subtitle takes us further into the future, two days later here, four years later there.

If momentum is lost by police, it’s picked right back up again by Graysmith. Someone is always carrying the torch forward, like a demented version of the opening Olympics ceremony.

I think that is what stands out structurally. In most films when you keep widening the time line the audience begins to lose the heart of the story. In Zodiac it works just the opposite. The heart of the story lies in the time it takes to tell it. We start on the minute simple details of the case and start zooming out until the bigger picture comes into focus. Characters drop the case and leave. Some are very prominent early in the story and drop off never to be seen from again.

And of course, it’s made to look effortless. The script by James Vanderbilt is extraordinary. You meet so many characters who end up holding space in your head. It never gets confusing or muddled. The dialogue crackles. You can plow through the script just reading the dialogue and still make sense of the story.

This goes down as one of the finest films of Fincher’s career. Probably one of the best films of the 00’s. And easily one of the best screenplays ever written.

How to break an egg

MICHAEL BAY’S A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET

I’ve heard that any aspiring chef would do well to learn how to cook an egg first. Master the egg, and then you can move on to bigger and more complicated dishes. But no so fast there, amateur chefs in the making: you can screw up an egg too, if you don’t know what you’re doing.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that making A Nightmare on Elm Street is the equivalent to cooking a good egg. It isn’t that complicated to get it right, but you can easily screw it up. And like any egg, you can make it in different ways. Over easy, scrambled, soft boiled, hard boiled. According to http://panlasangpinoy.com/2011/02/25/10-ways-to-cook-an-egg/ there are 10 ways to cook an egg. There have been 8 movies about having nightmares on that fabled Elm Street, if you include Freddy Vs Jason, so this makes number 9. They all have various differences, and some (like part 2) don’t even follow the rules laid out by Wes Craven in the original. So there is still one more Elm Street movie you can make that’s different from the other ones already in the canon.

I think what’s interesting about the Nightmare series, which you can say for a lot of horror franchises especially Friday the 13th, is that no single film is the “standard” by which to measure the series by. Part one has Freddy at his most dream-like, usually hunkered in the shadows of an alleyway or in the boiler room. But that isn’t exactly the Freddy we came to know. His personality didn’t open up until part 4, where we began to see the wise cracking version of Wes Craven’s creation. I think Freddy’s Dead is where everything sort of came together, combining his flair for humor with his flair for toying with his victims. You could argue that the series went in the wrong direction, but I don’t think so. I think if we continued to have straight scares without any humor to them, we would have never known just how talented Robert Englund really was. It’s his charm and his personality that puts life into Freddy, and gives him iconic power. Wes successfully pulled that plug in New Nightmare, by making Freddy more archaic. And I guess that was the admission Platinum Dunes needed to argue that the role of Freddy could still work without Englund’s weight behind it.

I didn’t see this remake in theaters, because I was discouraged by the negative press it received, and by every Platinum Dunes and Michael Bay release that came before it. It’s just an amazing traincar of failed remake after failed remake, pulled forward by our nostalgia and our fondness for the movies we grew up watching as kids. We had no idea the tracks were laid down years ago. It just took a couple incompetent doofuses to put it to use (Brad Fuller and the other guy).

NOES wasn’t a killer at the box office, but it did pull in an average return the first weekend, about what they expected. It made its money back in a few days. And then it was followed by a steep drop off in sales which you could argue made the production  a waste of time for everybody involved. The diehard Freddy fans came out to see it, but no one else was really interested. And now these Platinum douches are finally learning that it’s not enough just to appeal to the hardcore base. Their next film is supposed to be “original”.

I am sure Brad and Andrew actually admire the NOES films. I saw hints of it visually. You can pick any scene and usually find an earlier incarnation of it in the series. Some are obvious, like the tub or Nancy’s bedroom, and some are less obvious, like the diner in the opening, or the swimming practice at the pool. But the feeling we get is that we’ve seen it all before, which is why the remake doesn’t work.

I’m not saying it isn’t a justified remake. Like I said, you can cook an egg 10 times and they can all taste delicious in their own special way. For instance, this egg has some interesting differences that the previous films do not have.

Pedophilia.

There is some ambiguity about whether Freddy was a pedophile but it’s no spoiler to say that instead of maybe being a pedophile he just was. Then some angry parents burned him into oblivion.

Now, the myth has circled around Freddy since the first film. He’s always had that rabid, sexual pervert quality, but it was really a relationship based around his yearning for Nancy. She might have been underage, but it was still a legitimate contest of strength. Nancy could overpower Freddy if she wanted. The screenwriters follow that thread here, but go one step further. They decide there is one thing worse than being killed in your dream. It’s being molested in it! By a guy with knives on his hand. There’s a scene where Freddy lies on top of Nancy in her dream, and doesn’t make much of an effort to kill her. He seems more interested in undressing her. There is another scene where Freddy kills a guy, but in the dream he tells him the brain doesn’t die for 7 minutes. So they have 6 minutes “left to play.”

That was a clever spin on things. Of course we don’t see what kinds of games he plays, something much worse than cards or Monopoly is my guess. There are always hints of sexual perverse things that could happen between Freddy and his victims. It’s all very dark, and very serious business.

Like we learn Freddy used to be the gardener at a preschool and he’d take kids to his “secret place”. What he did with the kids we cannot say, except that these are all memories the kids of Springfield have suppressed and which their parents tried to keep secret. But once Freddy comes back…so do the secrets. Of course if you question why Freddy waited until they were teenagers to have another go at them, and bring back all these painful memories, you would have to ask the screenwriters that one. It’s a leap in logic I don’t have an answer for.

The goose chase-then murder structure was pretty rigidly followed the entire series, so it’s a welcome shift to see Freddy using the power of sexual tension in his dreams, rather than just going for the kill.

So I liked those little changes.

The biggest change though, and the one I liked the least, was moving Jackie Earle Haley into real estate occupied by Robert Englund. This is not a character you can change out like a new pair of clothes when the old pair gets too old. We got an imitation of Freddy but the character was obsolete. Not a big surprise to anyone who saw even the first hint of what this remake looked like from the trailers, but it’s worth stating the facts of the case:

Englund brought something permanent to the role you cannot cover up with different makeup. And failing to see that is why we can call Andrew Form and his buddy the Platinum douches.

P.S. One of my favorite touches to this was the search engine name they used in place of “Google”, called “DigiBlast”. Instead of a button that says “Search” it says “Blast off!” It made me like this movie just a little bit more than it should have.

Seeing things in a bad light

SUPER 8



A big reason we have darker projection today is because of 3D.  Here you’ll see exactly what to look for so you can avoid making the mistake of seeing a film that’s too dark.

Roger Ebert advises that if it happens you should ask for a refund.

This is in theory very strong advice. But in reality it’s much harder to do, especially when you are on a date. Date night films usually come on the heels of having a nice dinner somewhere. Then you lift up those arm rests, cozy up together, and try not to move too much for the next couple of hours.

Asking for a refund and leaving–which is a two part combination of raising your voice at the manager, then walking away–is more hassle than it’s worth. Even if your refund is in the same theater.

Your date will think you are inconsiderate, and a total a-hole.

So I waited until after the movie to complain. When I approached the manager, who I noticed looked too young to be managing anything, I asked him (calmly, respectfully) why the picture was a tad darker than usual. Knowing the answer ahead of time helps in these kinds of situations. It provides you with a tactical advantage, if he happens to give you a bullshit answer.

“Maybe that’s just the way they shot it,” he said.

My bullshit detection light turned on. I almost told him that it made perfect sense; the filmmakers spent $50-80 million dollars to make it look dark. Of course!

I had to check his badge again, just to verify that it was still the manager in front of me.

“I think it’s because of the 3D projector,” I replied.

“It’s not in 3D.”

“I know, but it’s still a Sony 3D projector you’re using. Haven’t you had any other complaints?”

“Nope. You’re the first one.”

Translation: I’m the crazy one.

I wanted to tell him this was the film’s opening day. It would be reasonable to assume I was the first to complain. But based on his reaction it seemed very clear he didn’t have a clue about my complaint. And what’s worse, he didn’t think it was interesting enough to check for himself. He just stood there, as if he had better things to be doing.

But I looked back at the exit doors, where my date was standing, and didn’t want to stretch her patience any further.  I turned back to the manager and thanked him for his time and left.

The next day, I saw the film again, in a theater I knew had better projection. Instead of feeling vindicated, I was bummed out. Why of all movies did I go see this one again? I never see movies twice in theaters. All of the little flaws of the film seemed to grow bigger. I knew Abrams was no Spielberg but this confirmed it.

There are brighter days at the theater ahead, but at ones that boast about their look and sound. The costs of a ticket are too expensive to take any risks. If the drive is ten minutes longer so be it.