Unemployed and going to a weekday matinee

Go see Clint kick ass, just not on a weekday afternoon

Go see Clint kick ass, just not on a weekday afternoon

[Beck song plays in cafe, barely audible over instrumental headphone music]

[Pots rattle in kitchen]

[Chatter of customer placing an order]

One of the luxuries of unemployment is my schedule. I can basically do whatever I want whenever I want. So if I’m not feeling the gym in the morning – when the aerobics classes blare Latin House and people who shouldn’t be wearing tights bend over a lot – I go in the afternoon. Or I tell myself that my arms feel a little sore and skip it altogether. Then I get to work, but not before a quick flex and preen in the full-length mirror. (Yes, those guns are real, but don’t be scared.)

[Man at next table taps incessantly]

[Norm sighs audibly]

My wife, to her credit, keeps urging me to do something fun. Feeling like I’d made some strides these last couple of weeks, I finally gave in. In almost three months of unemployment, this would be my first real, honest-to-God slacking. I went to a 2:00 showing of Gran Torino (no fluff in my slacking, just morals, heavy themes and death). And it felt weird, like I was doing something wrong, like I should be doing something more important (sending out resume number 18,437, for example).

[Faint keyboard clicking heard between headphone songs]

[Nondescript singer-songwriter whines over an acoustic guitar]

[Man at next table taps to beat]

There’s something uniquely depressing about a movie theater on a weekday afternoon. All these movies playing, but nobody watching. The few people who did show up, seemed to come more out of boredom than interest. The lady in line before me was looking for a movie with subtitles, any movie; she didn’t care what she saw.

[Man at next table takes cell phone call; loud prattle ensues]

Gran Torino played in one of the big auditoriums with stadium seating. I arrived during previews and – wouldn’t you know it – got a seat halfway up the aisle and dead center. The whole row was mine until that same old lady and her adult son sat down. An audience of seven total, and everyone besides the mother and son came alone. Sure, empty theaters are more comfortable, but audience vibe is important to the movie-going experience. And the only vibe there was loneliness.

[Man at next table continues loud cell phone conversation while smelling really bad]

The other downside of weekday matinees is subtitles. I can hear perfectly fine, but I found myself reading the dialogue and descriptions of various sounds. This is not a knock on the movie; it was actually quite moving and thought-provoking. My eyes were just drawn to the words because they were there. While Clint Eastwood was being a badass, I was reading about Clint Eastwood being a badass. Some of the effect was lost.

[Bathroom door squeaks as it opens and shuts]

[Toilet flushes in background]

[Volume of man’s cellphone conversation gets louder as he returns]

Gran Torino is definitely worth seeing, even if you’re lukewarm on Clint Eastwood. The man knows how to direct a movie, and act in one for that matter. And with one of the Oscar movies under my belt, I can fantasize about all the post-award water cooler conversations I’ll miss. The other movies will have to wait for a weekend when my wife and I are both free, or video. But the next time I feel the urge to slack, I’ll try a different activity. There’s a bar around the corner frequented by grizzled drinkers twice my age. A liquor-fueled afternoon in their company could be just the kind of break to lift my spirits.

[Sound of scuffle]

[Sound of man’s cellphone smashing against wall]

[Patrons cheer]

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  1. Jay wrote:

    “Then I get to work, but not before a quick flex and preen in the full-length mirror. (Yes, those guns are real, but don’t be scared.)”

    Remember Norm..the stability ball is your best friend…and the quickest way to pain…any new exercises?

    Friday, January 23, 2009 at 1:59 pm | Permalink
  2. Andrew wrote:

    Have you seen Hotel For Dogs yet?

    Friday, January 23, 2009 at 3:34 pm | Permalink
  3. Norm wrote:

    You know, it was on my list. But then I threw away that list and created a list of movies I actually wanted to see.

    Friday, January 23, 2009 at 3:42 pm | Permalink
  4. Ben Bloom wrote:

    Gran Torino: easily among my favorite Eastwood movies (along with Heartbreak Ridge; The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly; In the Line of Fire; and Blood Work).

    Sitting in a cafe even if there is free internet: easily among the more annoying experiences.

    A good review of both, Norm.

    Friday, January 23, 2009 at 3:47 pm | Permalink
  5. Andrew wrote:

    In the Line of Fire rocks. You should also check out Escape from Alcatraz and The Gauntlet if you haven’t already.

    Friday, January 23, 2009 at 4:50 pm | Permalink
  6. Ben Bloom wrote:

    @Andrew How in the world did I forget about Escape from Alcatraz? Love that film.

    Friday, January 23, 2009 at 6:11 pm | Permalink
  7. Dalilama wrote:

    “A liquor-fueled afternoon in their company could be just the kind of break to lift my spirits.”

    I have yet to experience one of those with you and I’ve known you over 20 years! Let me know when you decide to have one so I can be there to participate. Unless of course, you are just planning on watching THEM get all liquored up, and then I’d just be a show like them. 😉

    Friday, January 23, 2009 at 6:22 pm | Permalink

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  1. […] no one else wanted to go. Seeing a matinee on the weekend is a totally different experience from seeing one during the week. It feels decadent rather than depressing and pathetic. (Whatever, leave me alone! I can […]