Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Munkees endorse MOTHERfreakin' movies

I was posting a comment on Jim Emerson's Scanners blog today and it reminded me to mention something interesting about my weekend.

I went to the movies.


Now, that may not be big news for some of you, but frankly, for a movie fan, I hardly ever actually GO to the movies. Maybe on a date, or on a Sunday afternoon when there's nothing else to do, but basically I have a problem with the hassle.

Or, that is to say, the crowds.

But Sunday night, I found myself sitting in a huge theater in New York City (25 screens!) for almost four hours - and really enjoying it.

See, as I was remarking to Mr. Emerson, what drives me into a theater - as opposed to buying/renting a DVD six months later and watching on my HDTV at home - is one of three things:

1. A movie I have to see on the big screen. That is to say, most action movies and many movies with impressive scenery.

2. A movie that would actually be ENHANCED by people talking and making noise and shouting at the screen. (More on this in a minute.)

3. A movie I just have to see RIGHT FREAKIN' NOW, and not in six or nine months when the DVD hits stores. (More on this, too.)

The movies I went to see Sunday night fit two of the three categories.

The now-infamous "Snakes on a Plane" fit No. 2, and "The Descent" fit No. 3.

"SoaP" is a movie you have to see with a crowd. That's not to say I won't buy the DVD the day it streets and watch it again and again. But really, this is a movie where a crowd full of idiots really makes the experience a delight. (And by idiots, I'm including myself - I clapped along with everybody else when Sam Jackson said, and say it with me, "I've had it with these MOTHERfuckin' snakes on this MOTHERfuckin' plane!")

There was this middle-aged Asian lady sitting right next to me who spent the entire film giving a running commentary in Thai (or some other Asian language) to her daughter next to her, and shrieking every time she saw a snake bigger than your average Ramen noodle. She literally jumped out of her seat twice, watched half the movie through her fingers like Mom during "Dead Hunt," and if I'd paid more attention, I probably could have learned Thai for "SNAKE!" and "NO! Don't open THAT!" She actually apologized for all the noise after the film - the commentary I could've done without, but the rest, well, hell, that was funny.

See, that's having a good time at the theater. Somebody babbling through, say, "Poseidon," wouldn't have had the same effect. Besides, everybody's eyes rolling made enough noise during that one.

Laughing during a comedy is to be expected - and "SoaP" is damn funny, and somewhat a comedy - but it takes a special kind of action/disaster movie - and that's really what "SoaP" is - to get people yelling and cheering throughout.

I remember seeing "Ghosts of Mars" in a theater, with a mostly black audience, who yelled and screamed every time Ice Cube did something cool (a la Sam Jackson in "SoaP" or really just about anything). Which was about five times in the film - and it's a pretty good film - but I remember more the moment when I heard a flick, saw a flash behind me, glanced back (I've had plenty of friends who sneak a cigarette in theaters) and saw somebody light up a crack pipe.

But "SoaP" was a movie people could do that to throughout. (I mean, yell at the people on screen, not smoke crack. Well, they probably could do both, except in New York City these days, you can't light up anything anywhere.)

Yes, "SoaP" is formulaic (you know the ratio: four out of five jerk passengers die, with the fifth becoming nice, and three out of five nice passengers live, with one sacrificing him/herself and the other victimized by the need for tension). And it's hard to believe anything could live up to the hype the movie got. Frankly, if I'd seen it in six months, on DVD, it probably wouldn't have. But there, in the theater, that's how you have a good time - when the audience is SUPPOSED to be making noise.

After "SoaP," I went on to a very different sort of movie: "The Descent." Now, that falls into category 3, a movie I have to see RIGHT (MOTHERfuckin' snakes!) NOW! and not later.

Why? Because I love horror movies, my friends love horror movies, and my friends have said repeatedly it's the horror movie of the year (even if it really came out last year, in England). It's from the director of the awesome grunts-v.-werewolves flick "Dog Soldiers," and it's the story of a group of female cavers on a trip into hell.

Now, those who know me know I love a good goofball horror film even more than a good suspenseful one, but there is just something primal about a horror film that really taps into human fear. And this one does it. I mean, it's claustrophobic by nature (they're in a cave network). It's suspenseful. It's bloody. It's action-packed. It's just really, really good.

And I found the female perspective refreshing, though my HorrorTalk colleague GG (a girl) informed me that it is a little more stereotypical than I'd thought. (She loved the flick, too, though. She's one of the reasons I went to see it.) I found the female emotions (vastly more subtle and yet more present than typical male-character movie emotions) lent an even different spin to the flick.

And yeah, it's scary as all get out. So that one lived up to the hype, too.

Yes, it's formulaic, too, in many ways (you know who's going to live or die from the start, more or less - a couple of the girls should have "cannon fodder" stenciled on their climbing helmets), but much like "Dog Soldiers," the how and why of the deaths escaped the cliched more often than not.

No, I didn't have to see it in a theater. But I didn't want to wait for the DVD - and having seen the film, I'm glad I didn't.

It was a decent weekend before the movies - family wedding and then family 90th birthday party, seeing the 'rents for the first time in a while - but the movies were the icing on the cake. Even if I got home at 1 a.m. and didn't get anything done I'd planned for Sunday night.

Besides, the last movie I'd seen in a theater was MOTHERfucking "You, Me & Dupree" (it was a date! she picked! not munkeefault!) and well, I've got a reputation to maintain. Screw that comedy stuff.

Give me something with blood, guts and scares!

Just no spiders. "Spiders on a Plane," I'd have definitely skipped.


jin said...

I almost never go TO the movies either. I may have to drag D to this SoaP you speak of. Of course, the last one I got him to go with me to was Hostel which I simply adored (maybe that's not the right phrase? LOL!) & he didn't really enjoy (maybe that's not the right phrase, either!!! HAHA!!!). I like me some sick films!!! :-)

Ace said...

I love you.

Too bad you're married. And in Wisconsin. Or Minnesota. Or someplace far away.

My Tarot card isn't the one that means "willing to travel long distances for girls." At least not this week.

jin said...


LOL...yes, married & in Wisconsin...but that doesn't mean we can't be blog buddies?!!?
I assume you liked Hostel. lol :-) Damn...first film I ever saw that I came out of the theater with my heart pumping & it was like I had downed about 6 espressos!!!
I haven't been able to bring myself to watch it on DVD 'cuz I don't think it'll have the same effect.

I seriously have to check out your reviews. I just haven't had the time.

Glad you finally found Unplugged!

Ace said...

I dug Hostel. You should see The Descent!


Stewie said...

you two get a blogroom.

Lesley said...

I'm glad to hear you liked SoaP!!! I want to see it too, but I definitely want to see it in a crowded theater with a loud audience. That will definitely enhance the experience. And I'm glad to hear people cheered when SLJ said his "motherfuckin' snakes on my motherfuckin' plane line" -- I plan to cheer at that too!