27 December 2009

Fill Me Up, Buttercup

Listening to: Pete Townshend, "Let My Love Open the Door (E.Cola Mix)." One of the all time greatest film soundtracks. They've had Grosse Pointe Blank on repeat lately and I've been rewatching it in spurts. Man, the songs are so fantastic and were probably my first introduction to most of these classic Eighties songs. I was late to the Eighties, it's true.

I like my movies in theaters. When I don't have a whole lot going on, I'll head to the theater and plop down twenty for a ticket, popcorn, and Icee. Some people like bars and going out, I like movie hopping. Can you call watching movies in theaters a hobby? Probably not. But it's a top hobby of mine. While I'd prefer to always watch a good movie, I'm not that discerning when I'm hopping since I'm pretty willing to wander into anything on down time.

Sometimes I'll go watch a movie just because I'm craving popcorn. I take the creation of extra salty and buttery popcorn very seriously. I nearly always get the largest size available, and then ask for a cardboard box and an empty water cup. Butter and salt the top, then pour that layer out into the box. Butter and salt the next layer, shake shake shake. Repeat until you've got everything to taste. Then fill the water cup with half an inch of butter and salt to pour on the bottom half of the popcorn later. I promise good times.

By my calculations, I've watched roughly forty movies in theaters this year, which comes out to about three and a half movies per month. Count in ticket prices and my addiction to the popcorn and we're looking at close to $600 spent at the movies in 2009 -- assuming I hopped about a quarter of those films. And what did I get for all this cash? Ten "A" rated movies, eighteen "B," six "C", and two "D's." Basically my ratings come out to be: (A) Thoroughly enjoyed it or worth watching for some reason or another (B) Decent but definitely flawed (C) Average all around (D) I kind of wanted to walk out. Luckily, I only watched two D-rated movies this year, "I Love You, Man" and "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button." I wouldn't have walked out of Benjamin Button but by no means did I enjoy the experience nor would I recommend it.

My top ten of 2009 looks like: Coraline, The Hurt Locker, 500 Days of Summer, G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra, Inglourious Basterds, The Time Traveler's Wife, An Education, Precious, Fantastic Mr. Fox, and Avatar. I don't think any of them were classics actually, with the possible exception of Inglourious Basterds (but only upon re-viewing did I think this). Of the entire set, I'd recommend watching An Education on its own merits and Avatar and Precious because everyone will be talking about it. Everything else is Netflix-able.

It strikes me that paying $600 to watch ten good movies is probably not a wise investment of my money. Netflix delivers a much better good movie ratio at about a fifth of the price. Oh but I love the theater popcorn!

My very favorite movie I watched in 2009 was a recommendation from a friend with whom I rarely share any common movie-likes. He told me to watch "Dedication" (2007) because it's about a writer and it's dark and snarky yet romantic and hopeful. I watched it and loved it, placing it immediately into one of my all time favorites lists. How high I haven't determined yet but Dedication has everything I look for in a movie: Great dialogue, good acting (including Mandy Moore of all people), an interesting premise, a touch of quirkiness, and lots of verbal sniping. It's seriously fantastic and I need to buy the DVD immediately.

"Henry Roth, a misanthropic, emotionally complex New York author of a hit children's book series, is forced to team with a beautiful illustrator after his best friend and creative collaborator passes away."
-Dedication movie trailer-
So what next year? Cut back on movies in theaters? Invest in a popcorn machine at home? These are the questions that face me heading into 2010 and it's not a trivial matter at all. Even though it sounds like it.