So, you think it’s all fun and games to be a film critic? First, some filmmakers look at you like you’re pond scum; you’re the only ones definitively lower than they are on on the food chain. Second, if you are in Boulder you always have to schlep to Denver; there are never any screenings here. So you drive an hour each way and have popcorn for dinner for the sake of seeing the latest Harrison Ford vehicle with a bunch of people who are telling the story of how they won the tickets to other people who got their tickets the same way. And then you get that one good moment: when you get to waltz in and sit in a press seat. I am immediately noticed. I couldn’t just be anonymous, no. He says, loudly, “Aren’t you going to sit in the press seats?” and I say, “Yes, of course I am,” and sit in one after ripping off the strips of tape. The theater does not fill up at all; I could have brought a friend. I soon wish I had. “I haven’t seen you here before,” said the man pointedly. “I write for Movie Habit. For about three years. Friend of Marty’s.” “Why isn’t he here covering it himself?” “I signed up first. Marty’s good about letting people see things. He doesn’t take everything for himself.” And he then announces his favorite films of 2005 as if reciting a column he had just written. I was trying to give him the benefit of the doubt when we chatted about Brokeback Mountain and found it lacking for the same reasons. Then he says his favorite film was the 40-year-old virgin (which I will see eventually, because I have heard several people say it’s sweet) and adds that a film that has “the girl from Dawson’s Creek, naked” and “the girl from __[something else], naked” can’t be bad. So I go out to the lobby, commiserate with a fellow filmgoer about getting stuck in film critic limbo, and fork out $9.25 for my avoidance tactic, an alarmingly large medium soda and medium popcorn “combo.” I pull out my notebook and start to write when I get back to my seat. Soon enough the theater darkens, the film starts and pulls me into its vortex, and I’m on my own again. Luckily for me, this time I even like the movie.
It’s Not Easy Being Read
published February 9, 2006