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Everyone's a critic so I went to a screening - sky blue shirt was wrong for an evening event...

A good Movie and a Hollywood crowd feeding on free popcorn make for a nice evening.


A Coke, Popcorn, and a Movie, what could be better?

A free coke, a free tub of popcorn and a free screening!

The funny thing about screenings is that often the film isn’t very good.  A lot of my friends go to screenings all the time and they seem to feel duty bound to sit through a good many stinkers.  And they keep going as long as it’s a screening. ‘Surf Nazi’s from Mars’ could be the movie and they’d still go….

Another thing about screenings, no one ever says “Can’t make it, we’re going to the movies tonight.”  They need to make sure you understand that they’re going to a screening at the Writer’s Guild Theater or an Academy Screening, or the Directors Guild.  They just throw it out there with a heavy dose of nonchalance; you know how the French or Italians can walk out of their villas and just toss on an old wrinkled coat and look like a million bucks, that’s the delivery.

There is a certain established protocol at these screenings: You hang around the lobby before going in and fight your way through a gaggle of well-wishers to thank the person that invited you or to find your pal who gave you his girlfriend’s ticket because she had dumped him for a saxophone player.  Next you go in and everyone looks around before they sit down so they can say or wave hello to someone else.  Now they don’t really need to know the receiver of the hand wave or the mouthed ‘hello’ very well, but it is important to make this contact, thereby demonstrating that they do indeed know someone so that everyone else can see that they…well, know someone.  And instead of actually speaking to this person they can then make the ‘call me’ gesture across a number of isles indicating that the person they hardly know should call them.  It works very well and everyone seems to understand that in the Theater, there’s a lot of theater.

Okay, okay, you’re right, I’m a reverse snob.  I’d rather sit home in my Barcalounger, remote in hand, wearing my very old but very soft golden boy T-shirt while feeling very smug and superior.

But when an old buddy and very nice lady invited me to a screening for the film “9” last week, I decided to suck it up and put on a new T-shirt and go.  After getting all gussied up I met another friend in the Valley (Please don’t tell anyone!) and he drove into Hollywood and we tried to find the theater.  Another story for another time but leave it to say we found the theater and went through the obligatory stages I pointed out above, with a small twist.  Someone I really did know came up and we talked for a moment before sitting down.  My acquaintance friend told me she was sitting a few rows just below us and mentioned that she was sitting next to a very well known person in the industry.  I

immediately felt envious but did my best to display the proper insouciance.  She took  her seat and as she sat down she told the VIP that I was sitting behind them, I believe expecting the person to turn around and give the wave.  The VIP  just shook her head  cutting me to the quick.  She had apparently come to see the film, not me. What a bummer! 

Oh by the way, I liked the film, perhaps not a 9 but a nice solid 7 and the animation and visuals were impressive.  I won’t tell you all about the story as I hope you might go see it because, one, it’s a good film and two, my friend Heather Kenyon works with the company that produced the visuals and animation so maybe she’ll invite me to more screenings with free popcorn and sodas thrown in if it does well.  So go see it.

But seriously folks, this is supposed to be a critique and I haven’t really sunk my teeth into a meaningful review of the film have I?

Being a critic is a tough job and I’m not really analytical enough for the position.   I’m a moviegoer, I know if a film is good or bad but I don’t have the intellectual drive or possibly assets to tell you why it’s good or bad. 

 I was in the navy with the younger son of Bosley Crowther who at the time was the Film Critic for the New York Times.   He wrote about films with a massive intellect and discipline coupled with a deep love and passion for the medium.  He coined the term cinematography and wrote from a clear and concise viewpoint that was both expressive and wonderfully presented.  I met him once and knew his son well.  He was kind to give me several of the books he published on films and I still read them to this day.  

So having known the real deal I know that I’m no critic, but like you, I do know what I like.  So does this mean that your opinion is as good as mine?  Well don’t be silly, of course not….

Back to “9” – Have you read Wells, or Orwell? Seen any of the Terminator films, what about the Matrix Trilogy – Ring any bells?  Man gives in to his baser instincts, destroys himself and the planet by his greed and aggressive, selfish nature.  He creates machines of destruction and they come back to kick his ass and take names.  The creator of these bad machines sees where this is going and tries to make amends by leaving 9 sock puppets to try to set things somewhat right after all of us are gone.  Don’t want to say too much more here – you can read or have read all the real reviews of this film and most are favorable.  Is the story a bit familiar and the ending a little confused? Yes I thought so.  And were there too many explosive action moments at the expense of more expressive story possibilities? Yeah I thought so.  And did the dialogue want a little polish?  It did.  But all in all it was a very enjoyable piece of work with quality animation and wham-bang effects and after all, all good stories get retold and retooled so I will forgive the predictability and say that I would go back to see this film again and even buy my own ticket, popcorn and soda.  The characters have more than their share of offbeat charm and the bad machines are really bad.   Shane Acker did a solid job of direction and the animation and visuals were first rate.  Next time please, just work a little harder on the story line.