Thursday, May 12, 2016

A great reason to pay full price

Something unusual happened at Cinema Nova on Tuesday night:

I walked up to the counter and paid $19.50 to see a movie.

As you probably know, I never have to do this anymore. My AFCA card gets me into movies for free most nights of the week, and if it's not one of those nights, I just wait until it is one of those nights.

Tuesday night was, in fact, one of those nights at Cinema Nova. My card entitled me to free entry. But I paid anyway.


Well, the director of A Month of Sundays is one Matthew Saville, and he's a friend of mine. His wife and mine grew up together, and they live just down the street from us. In fact, she composed the film's score, as she does with most of Matt's projects. (Her name is Bryony Marks, by the way.)

In short, I want to give his movie as much help at the box office as I can. Not only for Matt's sake, but for the sake of small comic dramas (dramatic comedies?) like A Month of Sundays.

I was just glad it wasn't one of the clerks I recognized who took my $19.50. It would seem weird to be paying for a movie when I could get in for free, and that might make them wonder if there was something fraudulent about the other times I'd used the card. Was it a fake card? Did they need to check me out more thoroughly the next time I tried to use it? If asked, of course, I'd give the reason. But they wouldn't ask. And even though my AFCA card is legit, it's such a good deal that I worry about anything coming along and messing it up.

Fortunately, it was a woman I'd never seen before.

Well, I was glad to pay for this movie, and not just because I'm supporting my friend and the types of movies he makes. It was my favorite of the three films of his I've seen, which is saying something, since I gave both of the others four stars. This one also got four stars from me ... but it was a higher four stars. Like maybe 4.2 stars. Almost high enough to be rounded up to four-and-a-half.

A Month of Sundays -- which may never get released outside of Australia, but I'll tell you about it anyway -- stars Anthony LaPaglia as a real estate agent going through bit of a mid-life crisis. His mother has just died the year before, and he's wading through a recent breakup with his wife, the mother of his teenage son. And although he instinctively paces out the size of rooms even in houses that are not for sale, he's lost his lust for his chosen career, and is seeing the ugly side of an industry that frequently leaves hopeful buyers without any hope. A wrong number dialed by a woman about his mother's age, who sounds enough like his mother and thinks she's talking to her son, unexpectedly thrusts him into a new relationship with a perfect stranger, and steadily changes his perspective on what life may still have in store for him.

Not The Avengers, right?

It's true that movies like this have less and less of a claim on the available spots at the multiplex. But A Month of Sundays is a great reminder of how valid they can still be to the experience of moviegoers just looking for a human-scale story that helps give them a new view on the very real issues they deal with on a day-to-day basis. Yeah, sometimes we go to the movies to escape those issues. But it's probably even more useful to gain some kind of wisdom about them, an actionable kind of wisdom, and A Month of Sundays gives us just that.

A free critics screening card is designed to lessen the financial burden of paying for a bunch of sub-par movies that we are duty bound to review as part of our role as critics. I'm not formally reviewing A Month of Sundays, because I think it would constitute a conflict of interest. But I can tell you without a doubt that paying for this movie felt like no financial burden at all.

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