Monday, January 13, 2014

On How I'm Like JLaw...And You Could Be Too

We exited the theater like schoolkids for recess, a flutter of limbs as the audience scuttled out, reaching into jacket sleeves, holding doors, ambling our way through the dim hallways on our trek back to the real world.

My husband and our group loitered outside of the bathrooms as we waited for friends to weave their way through the Saturday night crowd. The atmosphere was tense between us as our minds raced to chew through what we had just seen, turning it over and over, absorbing all the last bits of interest and relatability.

There's a moment, right before the first person speaks, when we all hold our breath. We're waiting for the sacrificial lamb to start the slaughter, jostling each other, making eye contact as if we were penguins huddled on the cliff, pushing forward until the first bird fell in. Did we all feel the same way? How best to tell everyone- hyperbole? Graphic joke? Understated simplicity?

Movie-watching is a unique sport- it can be done both solitary and with others, but movie-experiencing is entirely personal. You can share the experience,  but it's still wholly your own, reflecting all the odds and ends and triumphs and heartaches and choices that make you different. Much the same way that books can stay with us, so too can movies. They're all stories, after all.

I didn't like American Hustle. I was so sure that everyone would agree. I felt that it was pretentious, unrelatable- the plot so labyrinthine that it was a wonder I could follow it. It was a nod to the visual film-making that I even knew what was going on. Don't underestimate the power of body-language, people. Or steadicam.

Instead, they gushed.

"So good."
"Wasn't that great?"
"Best movie of the year so far." A few titters- it's only January, after all.
"Not at ALL like the preview."

I frowned in confusion. Did we watch the same movie? Yes, I loved the actors too, and I could understand the guys enjoyed an eye-ful of the wardrobe (I think we could mold Amy Adams' chest with clay by memory, thanks), but it was much too long! How could you tell who was playing who when they were all playing each other?

Movies have always held a special place in my heart. I was practically reared on stories, both visual and textual. I could quote Star Wars on the playground and it only grew from there- so it was no surprise I fell in love with a man whose dream was to craft the silver screen. I live a little vicariously through him- after all, someone has to pay the bills. I enjoy being his sounding board, listening to his rants on the perils of 3D, learning from his experiences with story-telling and leading the audience. I was a part of that world in some small way and usually that's enough.

Until we're together with other film majors.

Suddenly my opinion feels glossed over. I don't "get" it. I didn't take those classes, I never sat in the editing bay going through dailies, I haven't worked 8 or 10 or 12 hour sets, so I couldn't understand. They try to be nice about it though, if not out of respect for me, then out of respect for my husband- that age old suffering borne by friends who endeavor to keep him out of the doghouse.

I realized that I was Jennifer Lawrence's Rosalyn, expertly hustled by those around me, mood swings and all. She was headstrong and naive, a bit of a bully in an effort to adapt to her circumstances, and often kept ignorant, but in the end she was revealed to be an untapped resource. I may not be all of those things (or I am, depending on the time of month) but I knew how she felt, making the best of her situation in the only ways she knew how. They may not have been the best ways, but they were those that were available to her.

How often have I felt that way? How often have you felt that way? Capable and confident in your own sphere but patronized and dismissed with ease when you attempt to expand.

My difference in opinion about a movie doesn't mean that I'm stupid. It doesn't mean that I don't "understand" what's really going on or that I'm too dense to read past all of the fluffy dialogue to see what they're "saying". The more I tried to explain why this movie didn't work, the more I got tight smiles and incredulous stares.

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