Skip the buttered popcorn, enormous candy bars, 1L cups of soda, and... friends. Just give me a good movie. Over the past year and a half, I have developed an affinity for solo movie-going. During my sophomore year in college I lived in a tiny town in the Hill Country where I was the youth minister at a new church. Since I only had class two days a week, and work two nights a week (technically), my free time piled up plentifully.
Making friends, in a town where all high school graduates leave if they know what's good for them, was difficult. The friends that I did acquire eventually were all in high school, so they were only accessible in the evenings and on weekends. A girl can only study at the local coffee shop, the riverbanks of the park and under mimosa trees for so many hours of the day without requiring some other activity.
I began to schedule matinees into my schedule a couple times a month. The nearest movie theater was in the next town over, so I would make a day of it; trips to the next town were not to be taken lightly, for it was an unfathomable fifteen miles away across the beautiful purple and green hillside.
It never crossed my mind that going to the movies alone was a lonely business, until I began to see that reaction across people's faces when I answered that yes, in fact, I had gone to such-and-such movie alone. Even now, living in Dallas, home of the "Think big. Live large." motto, and amongst so many friends, associates, and family members, I find myself thinking quite small, and I catch most of my movies by myself. I LOVE it this way. Please believe me, I haven’t become a snob against seeing movies in the company of other friends. Rather, I enjoy both modes of participation. Whereas most people can only go if accompanied, I am gifted with the love of going both by myself, and with other people, so I get... more enjoyment. Perhaps that sounds prideful, but it is as innocent as gleefully pumping one's fist in the air at the discovery of money in the pocket of one's jeans.
The number one benefit of going alone: focus. With no one on either side of me, I direct all my intellectual and emotional energies on the art form at the front. Here I can audibly react based solely on the merit on the film, i.e. my laughs and groans are not brought forth to express anything to my friend, but instead they overflow out when I just cannot keep quiet about what’s on screen.
The second-most benefit is the understanding that participation in the fine arts as a viewer need not be a merely social experience, rather it can be an experience completely intellectual and spiritual: the act of immersing oneself in the makings of others for purely educational and self-beneficial reasons. So that I might go, so that I might know! To be free of small talk, social obligation, and polite interactions and to be released into the organic and personal musings of the solo-flight into the art of cinema! This is what I love about these adventures as a 1-ticket-for type of girl!
This winter I have gladly taken several study breaks to the local theaters. Since January I have viewed Juno, 27 Dresses, No Country for Old Men, and In Bruges, in theaters, on my own. And you, dear reader, will be the one to hear what I thought about each one, since I took no one along with me to muse with afterward. Bear with this lover of good movies, but ignorant student of film. While I cannot give you the opinions of a weathered student of cinematography, I do offer you the reviews of a meager lover of goodness, truth, and beauty.
Juno- 4 of 5 STARS! This was an entrancing and tempting film to fall in love with. The soundtrack begs to whisk you away into the arms of indie lovers. The plot of a teenage girl getting pregnant in her ambiguous relationship with the sweet, aloof boy-next-door isn't novel, but the story is still so fascinating that this glimpse into "oh-so-that's-what-its-like" comes across as new, fresh, and totally original, despite that unmarried girls have been getting knocked up for thousands of years for strange reasons. This movie is very funny. Be warned- the protagonist, Juno, has a knack for rendering the most simple things as cataclysmic-ly humorous, so much so that one might want to drop all intonation from one's voice, part one's hair down the middle, and acquire a strange Northern accent and cynicism to all things sweet, in an attempt to adopt her charming sense of humor, speech patterns, and perspective. Every character in this movie has a refreshing sense of depth. Clichés were not dropped. Eyes were not rolled. From a pop-culture standpoint, this film is just cool. There is no getting around it. That aside, at its barebones, Juno offers a look at the state of the human condition that is both sobering and encouraging. Here we have the cynical teenage girl with a shaky moral ground upon which she makes life-changing decisions, the dynamics of the American step-family, and the tension between spouses over the desirability of becoming parents, and the state of young love in a nothing-is-sacred culture. I enjoyed it so much! I would definitely pay seven bucks to go see it again, and probably bring a friend along next time.
27 Dresses- 2 of 5 STARS. Two words: seen it.
No Country for Old Men- 5 of 5 STARS. I do not know how to properly evaluate this movie. No Country, a Coen brothers movie, and an adaptation of Cormac McCarthy’s novel of the same name, is mind-blowing. The wide screen shots of the dusty Texas towns and deserts gave me an overwhelming sense of being with the characters in the middle of nowhere, far away from help, sanity, culture, and safety. The idea of a killer who is so detached from the world that he kills people for coin tosses and money was haunting. This film successfully diagnoses the modern fall from goodness and grace into evil. By the end of the movie, which, quite appropriately, has no resolution, I felt like my soul had been stolen. Its quiet terror completely slew me. Hoorah for any visual art that can so transport one into another world and so thoroughly devastate one mentally and spiritually. Go see this movie alone to fully experience it.
In Bruges- 4 of 5 STARS. Caution: this movie is bad, bad, bad. “Bad” as in what your grandmother says when she slaps your aunt’s knee, laughing, and says, “You are so bad!” In all seriousness, before one goes to see this movie, be warned that it uses very vulgar humor. It is black comedy in every sense of the term. This is not to see that it is a bad movie. Heavens! I gave it 4 STARS! I laughed so hard all throughout the movie. What is funny is not so much what is said, but the ridiculousness of the patterns of thought displayed by the two hit men hiding out in Bruge (rhymes with rouge), a little town in Belgium. What makes this film so great, besides the hilarity, is how it matches the funny moments with equally serious content. It has all of the benefits of tragedy (which it is), with the seasonings of a well-developed comedy (which it also is). I do not know what Aristotle would have thought of the two genres being cemented together, but I really enjoyed it.