I did something unusual this past week, and before you think of tree-climbing, tubing or any other slightly bizarre activity, I admit it’s much more pedestrian. I went to the movies. Twice. In one week.
Living on the edge, it’s not. But considering that I can’t remember the last time I stepped into a theatre, it’s a departure for me. I’m not what you’d call a “movie person.” Before the movie even begins, I’m rubbed the wrong way by the line-ups, the massive posters, the overpriced popcorn, the never-ending trailers… I’m instantly irritated by the blatant capitalism masquerading as art that’s the hallmark of most megaplexes in this day and age.
I don’t bring much to the movie-watching table, either. It’s challenging for me to focus on a solitary thing for two hours, and to do so in a darkened room makes it that much more a test. But, my real issue – and a more important one, to the movie makers out there – is that it’s almost impossible for me to allow for the “suspension of disbelief” so required to truly enjoy a cinematic work.
Coined by poet and philosopher Samuel Taylor Coleridge in the early 19th century, it refers to the viewer’s ability to believe in the story playing out onscreen, or, in Coleridge’s day, on stage. Naturally, there are many attributes a production must possess to make this suspension. According to mediacollege.com (an educational website for all things media-related), a story can be far-flung as possible, provided it maintains consistency. Special effects have to be realistic and the interaction between lead characters must be plausible; thanks to money-making sequels and lowest common denominator production standards, we’ve all experienced when they’ve not been.
Movie-watching, in other words, is mind over matter, and it seems like my mind matters too much. People mostly watch movies to escape for a few hours, yet regardless of the fantasy playing onscreen, I forever play the role of buzzkill, muttering about how fake that explosion looked, or how pointless that piece of the plot is.
But it’s awards season (I may not enjoy films, but I’ll camp out on the couch for a self-congratulatory spree) and freezing cold outside, so perhaps I’m feeling a little more conciliatory toward the cinema. Without obligations and with Charlotte spending the weekend at Grandma and Grandpa’s, last weekend Andrew and I fulfilled my unusual desire to take in a movie.
We selected American Hustle for no particular reason other than it seemed like a compromise. I figured that even if I was put-off by the script, the gaudy fashions of the 1970s would at least prove amusing.
I’ll be damned if I didn’t enjoy the entire thing, from the ridiculous opening scene to the truly unexpected twist at the end. I won’t spoil the story – or usurp Chet Greason, our resident movie reviewer – except to say that I found it worthy of the accolades it’s racking up at those aforementioned awards show. And yes, the clothes were terrifyingly bad.
I’m more divided on my second cinematic experience. A conscious decision to have a “girls’ night out,” complete with a “girls’ movie” landed me in the theatre for August: Osage County. The film really had it all, but not necessarily how you’d expect, and certainly not how the commercials would have you think. Whereas American Hustle was pure escapism, August left me feeling emotionally exhausted, though impressed by the actors’ ability to play so realistically dysfunctional.
Not surprisingly, I preferred the former. I think it was because I went in with few expectations in the first place, so my role as resident critic was inherently reduced. And hey, a movie was my idea in the first place so, subconsciously, I must have been craving the experience. Sometimes, you have to suspend disbelief in yourself, it seems… and maybe I’ll see you at the movies one day, as a result!
Watching a movie (or awards show) at home? Here’s an interesting snack that caught my eye. Serve with any yogurt-based dip, such as tzatziki. Avocados are very rich, but mostly contain unsaturated, healthy fat… unlike that big bag of “buttered” movie popcorn that many movie-goers can’t resist!
Hot and Crunchy Avocado Fries
3/4 cup panko breadcrumbs
2 tbsp. ground flax
1 tsp. mild chili powder
Vegetable oil cooking spray (or atomizer)
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a bowl, combine panko, flax and chili powder. In another bowl, whisk egg. Halve avocados, remove skin and stones, cut into 16 wedges vertically, dip wedges in egg, press into breadcrumb mixture and transfer to a baking sheet. Coat with cooking spray. Bake until outside is crispy, 10- 12 minutes. Season with salt and drizzle with hot sauce.