For the last two years of my life, I have seen a movie, in theaters, at least once a week. In the past seven days, I have gone to the movies six times. I am likely to go again today, possibly twice, and then again on Friday.
Yes, I’m still working on all those projects. My second novel-in-progress is chugging pluckily along and the freelance stuff is getting lanced for (mostly) free. I’m also devoting non-zero amounts of time to practicing the banjo, cooking sufficient amounts of food, and learning to hold myself up with my arms at yoga class. I am dealing with crises by thinking positively and constructively. In short, I am still making good use of this time for Personal and Creative Development. And movies are a part of this, no question.
When I was in Paris, I went once or twice a week as a way to practice my language skills without having to talk to anyone, because I’m an introvert and because who knew when else I would get a chance to see Le Princess Movie? When I was in Chicago, I worked in the projection booth at Doc Films and unrolled celluloid strips of everything from avant-garde shorts on 16mm to all 7 (!!) reels of the Lord of the Rings: Extended Edition. In Montreal, there’s a film festival every damn week, Le Cinéclub, and six-dollar-cheapie-Tuesdays at the AMC three blocks from my apartment. I have been racking up points on my Scene card and Cineplex and could probably recite every line of dialogue in the “Silver Linings Playbook” trailer from memory.
I don’t go because I’m a film person. I love popcorny dumb movies and actually get to the theater early to watch the 2wenty* and all the trailers and engage in single-player games of “spot the visual metaphor.” I go because I just like movies. Roger Ebert, who is one of my favorite writers, critic or otherwise, once wrote something about “hunkering down in the womblike security of the theater,” and while I don’t want to get all Freudian nirvana-instinct on you, I’ll hazard at least that it’s a truth universally acknowledged that every moviegoer must be in want of some kind of temporary yet all-encompassing escape.
And yet I have this idea that people think going to the movies alone and frequently is weird. While it may be charming and quaint to have the cheesemonger at the market recognize you and start wrapping up your favorite sharp cheddar as you approach, it’s embarrassing for the ticket girl with the glasses to see you three days in a row and punch another movie out of your carnet étudiant**.
But. I saw documentaries on all of the following: a quirky Icelandic grandma-cum-musician, Dominican monks, teenagers in America and teenagers in Quebec, even though the latter group of kids had such thick accents I didn’t understand much. I saw Cloud Atlas and then I read Cloud Atlas. I saw Peaches Do Herself. I was unimpressed with Wreck-It Ralph and incredibly distracted by JGL’s fake eyebrows in Looper. And I didn’t have to coordinate schedules or justify seeing The Perks of Being A Wallflower without reading the book first or avoid French movies because my companion wouldn’t understand without subtitles.
It might be incredibly self-indulgent, but as addictions go, this one is minimally expensive and nominally enriching, so I think it shakes out. If you have yet to go to the movies alone, please do make a date with yourself. And bring your student ID.
*pronounced two-wenty, a-duh
**though I am not technically a student any longer, I am still as poor as one, so I feel that this is morally justifiable