Thursday, October 7, 2010

The era of unsocial movie watching

If The Social Network is a movie for our era, collectively, then it's also the first movie of our baby era, personally.

Not the first first movie, but the first movie that my wife and I each watched separately in the theater. And it gave a pretty good preview of what's going to be involved in watching movies unsocially for the foreseeable future.

She saw it on Saturday while I watched the baby. We got her out to an 11:45 show so that I could spend 2:30 onward at the LA County Fair with a couple friends. The baby was actually quiet for the most part, but in the last half-hour before my wife returned, he turned inconsolable. I knew what time her movie had started and I knew its running time, but I also knew she had talked about possibly stopping for a coffee on the way home. I knew I could give my son a bottle, but I also knew that the breast milk she had already pumped would be a precious commodity, meaning I should save it if at all possible. Suffice it to say I was dancing around outside with the baby when she got home, having come straight home from the movie. Which I immediately realized was somewhat cruel, because it meant she had to get back into the thick of mothering right away. Next time I'll use the pumped milk.

Then I went yesterday after work. She told me she'd check in with me around 3, to make sure it was still feasible, and that she didn't need me to come home right away to relieve her from baby duty. Her 2:50 email gave me her blessing, but then she wrote at 3:19, 11 minutes before I was scheduled to leave, saying she'd almost had to change her mind because he'd started screaming uncontrollably again. I should have latched on to the word "almost" and postponed my trip, reading through her words to realize she needed me now, not 3+ hours from now. But my male obliviousness took over and I went to the movie. What made it worse was that I made an ill-advised trip to the Trader Joe's near the theater, to try to pick up some food for dinner. It was ill-advised for multiple reasons, starting with the fact that the place looked like it had been ransacked, and wasn't carrying the entree I wanted to pick up. When the lines were also long, I just decided to abort. But the more important reason it was ill-advised is that it tacked on another 25 minutes or so to the time I should have been home. When I got there, my wife told me I needed to take the baby out, that he had been crying all afternoon. So I took him out for the next 75 minutes, even though it was almost 6:45 when I got home, and on the verge of sprinkling -- which it never quite did, fortunately.

So, this is what getting both of us to a movie will entail?

Yup, I guess so. And it only gets more daunting from here. The fall schedule seems littered with films I want to see in the theater, which I'll need to see in the theater if I want to be able to count them toward my year-end rankings. Not to mention there are at least three films currently in the theater (Easy A, The Town and Let Me In) that I want to try to see before they leave.

Oh well. No one ever said parenting didn't involve sacrifices.

As for The Social Network ... I loved it. It's been dancing around in my head ever since I left the theater. Part of that, I'm sure, is due to the fact that the score is more familiar to me than it is to a person who's only seen the movie. The score's composers are Nine Inch Nails frontman Trent Reznor and his regular collaborator Atticus Ross, and I bought the soundtrack a week ago on Nine Inch Nails being my favorite band, I was naturally drawn to the project, and enjoyed being able to place the score in context after watching the movie last night. I'm a bit biased in terms of my advanced prejudices, but I think the score accompanied the film brilliantly and was used judiciously. I was afraid that the score might dominate or might seem to call too much attention to itself (two ways of saying the same thing), but it was quite complementary.

Of course, the score is only one small part of the film, and everything else is excellent as well. It's basically a Citizen Kane story, where a man is driven to build an empire as the result of a very relatable set of psychological needs, becomes someone he probably never imagined becoming during that process, and at the end of it all, still finds those psychological needs essentially unfulfilled.

That's all I really care to say about The Social Network at the moment, in part because I'm still processing my thoughts on it, in part because everyone and his brother has probably written an in-depth Social Network review on his/her blog, and in part because writing in-depth reviews is not the aim of this blog anyway.

But the fact that this one will surely stay near the forefront of my thoughts for the rest of the week is as much endorsement as I need to give it.

If only every movie we have to coordinate our schedules to see in the theater would end up being this satisfying.


Don Handsome said...

Some theaters around me offer a "Mommy Movie" option where the first show on a designated day is kid friendly – I don’t mean that the mommy movies are only kids movies, they are regular adult movies but parents are free to bring their infants with them and it is understood that there may be some crying in the theater. My wife and I went to three separate Mommy’s Movies when our son was less than a year old and all three times we were one of only three or four attending parties in the theater. All the parents sort of compartmentalized ourselves into different areas of the theater and did what we needed to do to keep our kids satiated and calm during the film. Sure there were some moments that were interrupted by crying, but it was never that bad and at least my wife and I got to see a movie together without having to pay for a sitter. If they offer such a thing near you, take advantage.

Also…the Social Network is brilliant. Your analogy to Citizen Kane is very appropriate. Glad you loved it.

The Mad Hatter said...

I like the personal nature of this post - rather different than what we've come accustomed to reading.

Stay strong with your family, I'm sure it's trying but you're all in it together, right?

At least you both dug the film...could you imagine if you'd both gone through all that brouhaha and you didn't like it?

Daddy Geek Boy said...

First off, congrats on the divide and conquer. You've just mastered the first unspoken parenting guideline.

Second, yes this is what it will entail until the kid gets old enough for a babysitter, which you will then spend 3X as much on the night as you would have before kids.

But it does get easier as the kid gets older. Once normal sleep happens, you'll be able to use the evenings.

Vancetastic said...


That's an excellent idea. We'd already briefly looked into that in the context of my wife taking our son to such a screening -- after all, they're called "Mommy Movies," and I'm not a mommy. (Or a "mummy," as my Australian wife prefers to be called.) But the idea that we could all go together, or I could even go by myself and provide her some much-needed relief, is a revelation. I'll just have to choose movies that are fairly broad and easy to follow.


Thanks, I try to include personal details whenever possible. Makes it a more interesting read, I hope. Besides, my purpose with this blog is to discuss all the many ways we incorporate movie watching into our lives -- not to review movies, per se. And yup, I'll be sticking with the family for sure!


Hallelujah for normal sleep! Once the boy is in bed for the night, guilt-free nighttime screenings will indeed be possible. But couldn't our boy have been born in January, so his first few months of life didn't occur during the season when all the Oscar contenders are released?