Friday, May 12, 2006

The movie I walked out of and the movie I walked into

United 93 is "not a good date movie", I had been told. Nonetheless, one night Jamie and I found ourselves on a date at the Savoy 16, romantically sharing a gigantor-size popcorn bucket, sitting in those awkward theater chairs that kinda recline but only if you're applying steady pressure on them with your torso, watching Hollywood trivia and waiting for "the September 11th movie" to begin.

The film opens with the five hijackers quietly murmuring Arabic prayers in their hotel rooms. I hoped for subtitles -- they might have shed some light on what was going through the minds of these men. There were none, however; either the film wasn't concerned with giving depth to its characters, or maybe subtitles are considered "desecration" of the Qu'ran.

The scene moves to the airport, where more characters are introduced. The camera work is jerky and gives the appearance of being unmotivated -- As I watched, I felt like a regular airport traveler, just looking around. It flashes from one average Joe talking on his cell phone to another guy reading the paper. Occasionally it shows a terrorist trying to be nonchalant as he nervously bides his time.

From the very first scene, I couldn't help thinking about the film's inevitable, tragic conclusion. By the time the passengers were boarding the plane, I was overcome by this feeling. OK, I thought. I've spent a good 20 minutes here, essentially watching a giant ticking time bomb. So what's next? I'll watch another hour or so, thinking about how all these people are going to die, and then they'll die.

That thought did not appeal to me. What would be the point? And so we got up and left. It was the first movie I've ever left early because of its content. I wasn't learning anything or gaining some new perspective, and I certainly wasn't getting any entertainment value from the film.

And so we walked right out, and right into Thank You for Smoking next door. We missed the first 10 minutes or so, but still got a big kick out of this movie.

It's the story of a smooth-talking tobacco lobbyist who is constantly in the spotlight and under fire, and who consistently utters his most brilliant (and chuckle-worthy) lines when trying to explain the moral justification of his job to his young, admiring son.

Every criminal deserves a fair trial and a lawyer, right? Well, I'm like the lawyer for Big Tobacco!

There's plenty of fun here -- the movie is almost entirely tongue-in-cheek, and plenty witty. It's certainly a better date movie than that other one.

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