Okay, I think that sufficient time has passed; I have recovered enough to talk about some of the experiences of what I’ll just call “chock-full Thursday,” August 10, 2006. I’m actually going to start with THE MOST BIZZARE CINEMA EXPERIENCE I HAVE EVER HAD, which took place later in the day, after so MUCH had happened (if you doubt me, let me, in one word, something that it included: DMV).

One background fact (it’s NECESSARY – I promise), when I was in Park City for the SHORT COURSE FROM HELL, I bought a watch (with myriad interchangeable wristbands) at the Fossil store at the Park City Outlet Mall. This was pretty much my only recreation for the week. I haven’t worn a watch for AGES. I haven’t worn one since I lived on what they considered the outskirts of Salt Lake City proper (an excuse to give you crap when you want services like recycling) although it wasn’t as far back as when I lived downtown or in the Avenues. And it was DEFINITELY not as far back as when I shaved my legs.

One more quirky background fact: I am a relatively intelligent woman (at least I used to be – I admit that for a while I’ve felt like my brain cells are melting and mixing in with my ear wax or my mucus – that would explain my surfeit of allergies and/or colds), but I CANNOT wear a watch that just has lines (where the number SHOULD BE) or even Roman numerals. I get confused on the fly. Oh yeah – I’m a GENIUS. So my new watch has numbers.

Back to the story. On Chock-Full Thursday I decided to see a film. I was at the Gateway, so I looked at my watch and decided that I could still catch a late matinee. I looked at the movie times and decided that I’d see Lady in the Water. I was close enough in time, I figured it was probably a pretty inoffensive choice (my expectations were not particularly high). I was running a little late for it, and I HATE missing the beginning a movie, but I was assured by the ticket seller that it had ten minutes of previews. So I thought if I really busted a move I could get my gallon of diet soda, go to the restroom, and make it in time.

Unfortunately, when I walked into the theater, the movie was obviously well underway. There were only two couples there, but they were in rapt attention. I tried VERY, VERY quietly to situate myself with my soda and my frozen Junior® Mints (ask at your local movie theater if they freeze some of their Junior® Mints – it’s a very refreshing treat AND believe it or not, Junior® Mints are “A Low Fat Candy” – like that really matters at the cinema ).

Then the deepest and most profound surreality of the day set it. I had calculated that I could only have BARELY missed the opening credits, but what was happening on the screen was WACKY INTENSE. I really am at a loss to describe it in a different manner. I sat literally with my mouth agape for the next five to ten minutes (it couldn’t have been longer). Then the end credits rolled. I kid you not. I saw the last FIVE MINUTES of an M. Night ShyamalamaDingDong movie.

This means that I caught the “big twist” – though without the set-up I’m at a slight loss to say WHAT IN THE HELL IT ACTUALLY WAS OR WHAT IT MEANT. Paul Giamatti, who I really like, was weeping (you’ve all had time to either see or ignore this movie, so I sincerely doubt I am spoiling anything here – besides, if you’ve SEEN the ENTIRE film, you know oh so much more than I do). M. Night ShyamalamaDingDong was there, and there was something important about the progeny of his sister (?) and then, of course, there was Bryce Dallas Howard, looking vaguely albino and mystical. Oh – and Freddy Rodríguez from Six Feet Under fighting giant, fearsome…armadillos(?) made of foliage.

WHAT IN THE HELL???? This is the only response that came to mind. I walked out of the theater in a daze, went up to the ticket seller and said, “I just saw the last five minutes of Lady in the Water.” I showed them my ticket. He then graciously pointed out that it was an HOUR earlier than I had thought. So much for my watch-reading skills. I had purchased a ticket for a show that hadn’t started yet and wandered in to the END of the previous showing. No one stopped me…

I asked if I could exchange the ticket for something else – I desperately needed to replace the surreality of that experience. Considering that time (the actual time) I opted for a ticket to World Trade Center. Yes, I realize this seems like a very strange choice, but time constraints being what they were and feeling the need to be pulled back into some sort of reality, I opted for Ìber reality.

I sat down in the next theater, still feeling more than a tad disorientated. I was not in a place to truly assess this movie (I still don’t think I should try to critique the film, itself, in any way). I will say this: It it my fortune in life, no matter how empty a theater is, to somehow be seated near by people who will really, truly annoy me to death. If I choose the seat, the people nearby will look innocuous until the previews roll (or worse, they lull me into a sense of false security during the previews and then let it all hang out once the film starts). If I am already seated, even in an EMPTY theater, the very most inconsiderate movie-goers in the wide World will somehow sense and target my over-sensitivity to the sins of movie viewing (chewing REALLY loudly, rattling papers and wrappings incessantly, talking, talking, talking – not a few quiet aside comments – HAVING CONVERSATIONS, taking phone calls, kicking your seat – you name it). I admit it, it would behoove me to tune them out better. But once I notice egregious film-viewing offenses, I have a hard time ignoring them.

Kitty-corner behind me a row (or was it two) were such people. Had I not just “gone through the looking glass,” so to speak, I probably could have been more tolerant. The movie starts, and I hear a noise that, I SWEAR, sound like folks are cracking nut shells with their teeth. Say what you want about this movie (I don’t feel qualified, like I have said, to make an objective assessment of it), I felt that no matter what the film was like, one should maintain a certain reverence for the subject matter. These people were being IRREVERANT. I looked back, convinced that they would have a big sack of Brazil nuts or something (hence the DIN), but it was JUST POPCORN. One woman, in particular, seemed to have a talent at slowly, steadily, eating kernel after kernel and somehow making it sound like she was eating un-popped popcorn. I swear she did this for an hour. I comforted myself with the idea that they’d run out of popcorn eventually. And glory be, they DID. BUT one of the men in the group LEFT WITH THE KEY CHARACTERS TRAPPED, SEVERELY INJURED, UNDER THE RUBBLE OF THE TWIN TOWERS to get a refill of popcorn. Bless his stinky little heart. They also were wrapper rustlers. And periodic talkers. My withering looks didn’t do any good, and I hadn’t the energy for anything else. THEN one of them TOOK A PHONE CALL. She gets the dubious credit for having her phone on vibrate. This, however, did not stop her from a full-on phone conversation (with a vague attempt to have it be a QUIET conversation). I had the impulse to turn around and berate them fierce
ly with a speech – something like, “People ARE DYING, thousands of people REALLY DID DIE, don’t you have a sense of respect and REVERENCE??? If you can’t muster that, don’t you have a sense of being considerate to your fellow movie-goers????”

When I think about this, I suppose that’s backwards. If you don’t have a sense of respect or reverence one of the great tragedies of the Centuries, then your fellow movie-goers are certainly of no concern to you. And yes, I should, myself, had the strength to be “big” enough to just ignore them. If I wanted to berate them about having deference for great calamity and heartbreak, I should have had the self-control to concentrate on what I was deeming worthy of sensitive regard.

One way or the other, I think I deserve a BREAK. I’d inadvertently seen the last five minutes of Lady in the Water and THEN it somehow, in my bewildered state, seemed like a good idea to see World Trade Center. Now that I am NOT as stupefied, flummoxed or befuddled, I would NOT recommend this, under any circumstance, as a cinematic experience that one would desire.