Thursday, April 23, 2015

Not the ideal setting for a first-time viewing

You know how I like to tell you about my experiences watching movies in new and different environments, right?

Well, new and different is not always good.

Actually, there was everything to like about the setting itself of what was surprisingly my first viewing of Steven Spielberg's 1991 film Hook. A few months ago I met my co-worker out at a bar in Brunswick called The Penny Black, and noted that Tuesday nights are free movie night at The Penny Black. If it's warm, they have the movie out in the courtyard. If it's not so warm -- as it was on Tuesday night -- they have it inside in the main bar area. A half-dozen couches point toward the screen, and there are big pillows and bean bag chairs in front of them.

Good setup, right?

Yes and no. My friend got there early enough to stake out one of the couches. I ordered myself a pint and a $4 pizza -- a pretty great price for the little personal pizzas they make. I had one more of each still ahead in my future, and because I was ordering at a bar directly behind the couch where I was sitting, I didn't even have to miss any of the movie to place my second order.

The problem, however, is that this is still a bar. Even if a majority of the 80 people in that room are watching the movie, there's still the constant clinking of glasses and plates, still a general murmur among even the people watching the movie, and still those who aren't watching the movie, who are all "I'm at a bar enjoying myself. I will talk as loudly as I want. It's a fucking bar."

Thank goodness Hook was not actually a movie I really wanted to see, or one that was any good.

This friend and I had been trying to fix on a first movie to see together at The Penny Black since we first met there in mid February. When the March schedule was released, it didn't have much of interest. Everything was either something I had seen but wasn't dying to see again, something I loved but had re-watched recently, or something I had no interest in. The April schedule was more or less the same, but I proposed Hook because, well, it's a Stevie Spielberg joint and I figured it was something I should eventually see. He'd already seen it but liked it enough to want to see it again, so it was a plan.

Unfortunately, as I was drinking my first beer in the hour before the movie started, and starting to really feel the accumulated fatigue of having been up past midnight for each of the two previous nights, I checked my phone to find out the running time of Hook.

One hundred and frigging 42 minutes. It was daunting even before I knew how bad the movie would be.

Somehow I made it through. I had to engage in more than what I would normally deem appropriate of conversing with my friend to stay awake, but as I said, it was a bar and absolute quiet was never going to happen. My friend told me that I had never been asleep for lengthy periods of time, so I must have gotten away with no more than those little three-second naps -- albeit probably three dozen of them.

Still, the combination of my exhaustion and the general hubbub of the room drowning out the quieter dialogue left me with only a vague sense of how bad Hook was, and not a more specific idea of exactly what was happening at every given moment. I read the synopsis on wikipedia when I got home, and realized that I had pretty much followed everything that happened.

First of all, I think it's a pretty dumb idea for a movie to have a grown up Peter Pan living in the real world as a lawyer who doesn't pay enough attention to his kids and family (which is just about the most tired character type in movies from the 1980s and 1990s). When I saw that the movie started in the real world, I figured the portion that takes place in Neverland was going to be something in Robin Williams' character's imagination, perhaps a dream when he was out cold. I didn't think he was actually supposed to be Peter Pan.

Then when you get to Neverland, who would have thought that the entire rest of the movie would take place in and around this one chintzy set that looks like it was built on the Universal backlot on a budget? When you are dealing with a story like the Peter Pan story, the last thing you want to feel is claustrophobic.

Anyway, it's shit.

So I think the next movie I see at The Penny Black will be one I'm seeing for at least the second time. Then the clinking of glasses and random expulsions of drunk people won't affect my ability to enjoy/follow the movie.

Plus, I can nod off for more three seconds if the beer in my system inspires me to do so.

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