FIERCE ANTICIPATION: August 6-8
a blogumn by Ryan Dixon
“Yeah, I really want to.”
“And you won’t have any regrets? You know there’s no going back.”
“I want to. I want to do it. Badly. Really badly.”
And so last Friday evening, my roommate and I, after hours of agonizing debate, gave into our basest passions and let pleasure be our guide as we made the fateful decision that would affect the rest of our lives…
We rented a new movie through On Demand.
(What? Expecting something different?)
Perhaps no other platform of digital delivery has spurred as much debate as the day-and-date release of movies in theaters and On Demand. While having no particular prejudice based on pricipal against this method of watching movies, I always preferred the theatrical experience for reasons having do with my own makeup as a passive viewer. I want to give a movie the same amount of attention I do a book and the lack of alternative points of stimulation in a movie theater allows me to both persevere through the boring parts and be totally enraptured when the great moments arrive. At home the slightest dramatic downturn in a movie’s narrative brings about a tizzy of temptations– to check my Blackberry or glance through a magazine or go to the bathroom every ten minutes. What were, just moments before the movie began, prosaic domestic tasks, turn into hideously beautiful Sirens, hell-bent on seducing my focus away from the television screen.
Last Friday presented itself as an unexpected perfect storm of factors for me to enter into the world of On Demand. I’m a bit of a Kevin Kline nut and was eagerly (or some could say, Fiercely) anticipating his return to the screen in The Extra Man. Playing “Harry Harrison” an eccentric, sophisticated New Yorker who makes a living working as an “escort” to rich old ladies, this was the kind of broad comedic role that only Kline can pull off.
All the advertisements stated that the film was to open July 30 in limited release. As a resident of the second biggest city in the country I assumed that “limited release” would include Los Angeles and so I made plans to see it opening night at LA’s great art house chain the Laemmle theaters.
But that Friday morning my Google search for SoCal showtimes came up empty. I couldn’t believe it — The Extra Man was one of those films that the distributors decided to have spend its first week in an exclusive relationship in Manhattan forcing Los Angeles to make due with sloppy seconds. Kevin Kline wouldn’t be arriving to LA screens until the following Friday, i.e., today.
(For those readers who don’t live in big cities: Is there a more devastating moment than the horrific realization that the movie you had been so excited to see will not be coming to a theater near you? I can still feel the sharp sting of disappointment when remembering how I opened the Johnstown Tribune Democrat on Friday, October 21st, 1994 and discovered that Radioland Murders, a movie I was dying to see and had been anticipating for months, would not be playing nearby. In those pre-driving/pre-internet days of my youth, this lack of access to movies was a practical death sentence. I found the nearly eight months I had to wait in order to rent Radioland Murders–only to then be heartbroken by how lackluster it was– nearly unbearable.)
My disappointment over The Extra Man’s lack of an immediate LA opening was quickly offset by intrigue when I read on the film’s website that it was available for rental On Demand. I ran to my television and scoured the scrolls of the cable directory. It was indeed ready to be watched! And for only $7! Not only was this cheaper than seeing it at the Laemmle, but since my roommate Joe (he of F&N’s “On the Contrary” fame) had also never tried day-and-date On Demand, the price was sliced to $3.50 a person.
Ready to journey into this new world of entertainment platform delivery, Joe and I uncorked a bottle of red wine, opened a carton of Ben and Jerry’s and rented the movie, completely ignoring the homosexual subtext of our lazy Friday evening together.
The Extra Man proved to be an enjoyable (if a wee too preciously eccentric) trifle and Kline was, of course, remarkable. While I don’t think I’ll ever choose my couch over a theater for a movie with even the slightest trace of spectacle (especially since the theaters in LA are so exceptional), I enjoyed the experience enough that I will probably now always check if that small, independent film I want to see is also available On Demand.
It should however be noted that, aside from the absence of the “theatrical experience,” On Demand does have one other significant drawback. The next day, Joe and I were sitting in one of the darkened Laemmle screens, waiting to watch Life During Wartime, Todd Solondz’s grotesquely life affirming sequel to Happiness, when he turned to me and asked, “What happened at the end of The Extra Man?”
I paused before replying. While a potpourri of images from the final third of The Extra Man projected in my head, I couldn’t quite figure out how they all went together. At that point, Joe and I then realized that our confusion was not based upon the movie making some Lynchian turn into the surreal, but was instead due to a newly formed home viewing habit. Without the dangers of driving or the threat of a three-figured bill, one bottle of wine had, by the time The Extra Man‘s end credits began to roll, turned into three.
KINDA WANNA SEE
STEP UP 3D
It’s all about the abs. Abs forged by the gods. Abs that were the crowning achievement on a masterpiece of a midriff that was of such stuff wet dreams are made on.
And so it was that, having avoided the first film like one would a sick baby on an airplane, I became a convert to the Step Up saga when my eyes first gazed upon the poster for Step Up 2: The Streets. From that moment on, I was an eager apostle of the bare, immaculate midriff of Briana Evigan. It was a totem of casual, trashy sexiness that could cause any man’s stomach to boil with almost unbearable desire.
So, when a friend* asked if I wanted to actually see Step Up 2: The Streets in the theater, the thought of freely staring at that midriff, freed from their heretofore static photographic purgatory, for the length of an entire feature film proved too strong a temptation to resist. And now, two years later, a new bare midriff on the body of another moderately talented barely-known actress calls out on all the marketing material. Can I control the urge to rape my aesthetic standards once again?
*Technically my “friend” was a girl I wanted to date but who only wanted to be friends with me. In hindsight, agreeing to go see Step Up 2: The Streets with her was probably not the best strategic move in trying to bridge the romantic divide from friends to lovers.
WOULDN’T DO IT IF YOU PAID
Perhaps my artistic standards have fallen so far down the cliff of good taste that even the worst looks bearable to me now (after all, I am debating whether or not I want to see Step Up 3D), or maybe I’m just in a really good mood this week and temporarily lacking the urge to hate.
Either way, I’m at a loss for what to put in this slot. So for this week, it’s up to you, my dear legion of readers, to pick up the slack: In the comments section below, go ahead and write what you wouldn’t do/see/eat/read even if they (whoever they are) paid you. We will then judge the comments and our fearless editor Ernessa will provide the winner with a year’s supply of gift certificates to Ace Hardware because, well, they’re the only ones who would provide gift certificates.**
Ryan Dixon is the co-author of the upcoming graphic novel Hell House: The Awakening, published by Viper Comics and available September 8th. Pre-order it now! And after you’ve pre-ordered the book, go to Twitter and follow Ryan @ryanbdixon
**[Ed. Note] He’s kidding about the prize, but please do leave a comment.