Friday, December 9, 2016

Hateful Eight hectoring

If you're a cinephile, sometimes you make the mistake of thinking that everyone else wants to be a cinephile.

Or at the very least, those close to you.

My wife is close to being a cinephile. She's a screenwriter, which means her love for movies is lifelong and self-evident. But especially since we've had children, she just doesn't have the energy for the hard yards required to keep your membership in Club Cinephilia. She'll watch movies with me, sometimes of her own free will and sometimes due to an application of pressure on my part, but watching something independently of me is pretty rare. TV is better equipped to relax her brain after a day of screaming children, and she barely ever gets out to the movies anymore.

But I delude myself that deep down inside her, there's a repressed cinephile just fighting to get out.

Hence my months-long campaign to get her to see The Hateful Eight in the theater.

"But Vance," you say, "how can you mount a months-long campaign to get someone to watch a movie in the theater? By the third month it's available on video."

Ah, but this is a special kind of movie.

One theater near us -- the Sun Theatre in Yarraville -- was so enamored with the unique experience of screening Quentin Tarantino's latest film in 70 mm with an intermission that it continued to do so throughout 2016.

You had exactly one opportunity to see it each month -- on the 8th, at 8 p.m.


I can't remember who first noticed this, my wife or me, but she expressed an immediate interest in the idea of going to one of these screenings. This was ages ago, like in June.

Because my brain is funny this way, each month I would remember the approach of the 8th, and remind my wife that her next opportunity to see it was fast approaching.

Soon, I was reminding her of her last opportunity.

And much sooner than that, I was beginning to annoy her.

At first I detected it only in small ways, like a slight shortness to her answer. Eventually, audible sighs became involved. However, she continued to insist that she did intend to watch it. So I gave what I told her was my final reminder this past weekend, promising never to mention it again. Which, now that I think about it, was basically only guaranteeing I would not mention it again on the day it was actually happening. So, not much of a promise really. (Like any of us, my wife can forget the dates even of things she more clearly wants to do, and since I've got this unfailing reminder mechanism that fires in my head, I figured I should put it to use.)

Her most direct comment on this topic came not related to Hateful Eight itself, but to a hypothetical Movie X, which I recommended she see on Tuesday night. She was meeting a friend for drinks at 6:30. The way I typically think of an evening like that, I'm probably free in time to see a 9:30 show. Since Tuesday is cheap movie night at Hoyts and she'd be right near there, I mentioned the possibility to her.

"That's not something I like to do," she said. "That's something you like to do."

She was right. Most people don't like to start watching a movie at 9:30 after they've had two to three drinks. That's a recipe for disaster, for most people. Hell, it's a recipe for disaster for me, too, but I fight through it using caffeine and chocolate, and because I have an all-powerful need not to waste an opportunity to get to the movies.

The reason my wife doesn't want to start a 90-minute movie at 9:30 is the same reason she doesn't want to start a 180-minute movie at 8. They both get out at the same time, and they both involve a huge amount of potential exhaustion near the end. I myself have no idea how I would have done in an 8 p.m. showing of The Hateful Eight. When I saw it in January, I saw it at 10 a.m.

Nonetheless, my wife did tell me at the start of the week that she would pencil in The Hateful Eight for Thursday. I considered it likely enough that I envisioned watching the four-hour silent movie Greed that night for my No Audio Audient series.

Ever the optimist.

By the time Thursday rolled around, the week had worn us both out enough that I knew there was pretty much no way it was going to happen. Which it didn't.

And why do I care so much about this?

That's the question. I don't, really. Or at least I shouldn't. But I know if I were in her shoes, it's an opportunity I would regret missing.

But I'm not in her shoes. She likes her own shoes fine, thank you very much. She doesn't need mine, and she doesn't need me to be in hers.

And for a lot of reasons, it's probably just as well. Maybe she's not in the mood for three hours' worth of Tarantino's racial slurs, blood and guts, and violence against women. Maybe that would be just the wrong thing for her right now, only a month removed from the election. And maybe if she associated seeing it with my urging her to see it, it would blow up in my face.

And this morning, she restored my faith in her own dwindling cinephilia.

My wife isn't working on Fridays at the moment, and she doesn't have any children with her that day either. So this morning she asked my opinion on which of two films to see when she had a rare open window in the early afternoon.

If there's anything a cinephile likes more than being asked their opinion on something, I don't know what that might be.

And what options! She was choosing between Hell or High Water and Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, both of which I greatly enjoyed.

I told her that Hell was definitely the better film, but it depended on her mood. If she wanted something grittier -- something more in the Tarantino vein -- then Hell was definitely the better bet. But if she just wanted some escapism, then she'd best choose Beasts.

Yeah, her reason for going was that she had a free pass that's set to expire in a few weeks. But beggars (me, in this case) can't be choosers.

It just warms my heart that my wife, a cinephile who's just out of practice, is getting out to the movies at all.

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