Sunday, September 14, 2008

Movies: The Women

We planned to see a movie last Friday.  And we planned to see it at the new, spectacular Warren Theater in our town of Moore, Oklahoma.    But beyond that we hadn't planned much.

So it was just before 4 pm when we arrived at the Warren after we finished our other errands.

There are 16 screens so there were 16 movies and there were a couple starting near our time.  That's pretty much how we choose which movie to watch.  I suppose some might say that's choosing by coincidence.  I prefer to think of it as being spontaneous.

I guess I should add that Mrs. Flinty makes the final selection.  That was probably obvious though.  And her choice was The Women. It was scheduled to start about 10 minutes after our arrival. The choices it beat out were: Death Race and The Family That Preys.

I would like to sometime watch the The Dark Knight and Judy wants to watch Mamma Mia but the times were wrong; or, our arrival, one or the other.  Righteous Kill was playing in one of the two main theaters that have balconies but was sold out. 

Our arrival and selection still gave us time to buy the tickets, buy 2 Diet Pepsi's and one small popcorn (which was huge), and make our way to theater number 2.

The tickets were $7.00 each and the concessions cost $11.50 (no tax) for a total of $25.50.  I actually thought that was a pretty good deal for the value received.

The theater is wonderful in itself and well worth a trip.  It is in the style of the old, grand theaters I remember from my childhood.  But it is entirely modern, too, with all the latest and greatest technology.  It is fully carpeted throughout and immaculate.

I was surprised at how many people were in our specific theater.  The upper rows were pretty full and at first I thought we might have to sit  in those close-to-the-screen rows.  I am told that even the close rows are pretty good in this theater but I'd rather be farther back.  I'd really rather be in the balcony where two seats are arranged like a love seat and the middle arms can be lifted.  That would be fun sometime and we'll do it eventually.

It was dark already when we entered and the previews were already playing.  But the stairs were well illuminated while still not being distracting.  We followed the lighted path to the very back row and found 2 seats towards the wall.  Then we spotted two seats just down below us behind a short wall over the entrance tunnel.  We moved down there so no one could get in front of us and we could put our feet up against the wall. 

A few other people straggled in but no one came to our area.

I glanced around the theater and in the faint light was able to make out individuals eventually.  I am pretty sure I was the only man in the entire theater.  I think there were 200 people at least there and maybe more.  The complex is deceptively large.

This is a remake of a 1939 movie of the same name.   And the 1939 movie is from a 1936 play.  And, no, I don't remember the 1939 movie.

This is the story of Mary Haines (Meg Ryan) discovering her wealthy, prominent husband is having an affair with Crystal Allen (Eva Mendes) , who is a "spritzer girl" at Saks Fifth Avenue,  and what subsequently happens to Mary and her best friends: Sylvie (Annette Benning), Edie (Debra Messing), Alex (Jada Pinkett-Smith).  Candice Bergen plays Mary's mother and Cloris Leachman plays the maid, Maggie.  Carrie Fisher and Bette Midler and a bunch of other stars are in it, too.  All women.  No men at all.

The mother, Candice Bergen, has a face lift during the movie.  She says to her daughter (Meg) something like "have you noticed there are no more 60 something women."  She meant they all had already had face lifts and so on and didn't look 60 something.  Well I am 60 and Candice is 2 years older.  I think I look younger actually.  That's just an aside.

On Yahoo the critics gave the movie a C- and regular people gave it a B-. 

Actually I thought it was quite entertaining and some scenes were very funny.  The last scene in particular where Debra Messing is having a baby and all the other friends are gathered around in the hospital is absolutely hysterical.  All of us in our theater laughed so hard during that sequence.  There were many other places where there was spontaneous group laughter.  So I would give it a B and Roger Ebert agrees with me not that I would drop a name.

The 1939 movie, from what I've read, presented a different story in my view.  It was more about the shallowness of the lives of rich women and their friends.   Both movies were very careful to avoid any visible males including images of male animals in posters and paintings and so on.  One exception in the 1939 movie was a poster of a bull in a fashion scene.  I wasn't paying enough attention to notice if that happened in my movie.  But there were no males in my movie and we even commented on it.  I suppose I should have left the audience when I noticed I was the only male there.

Our movie has a very interesting history.  Meg Ryan and Julia Roberts became interested in producing and co-starring in a modern version in 1994.  Only thing was they wanted to play the same character.  Eventually Roberts lost interest but no studios wanted to take a chance on a "women only" movie.  But then Sex and the City became a big hit and some studio executive decided to go ahead with ours.

Now I think that is absolutely fascinating in light of our current cultural and political climate.  Here we have this political race that is highlighting the insidious sexism that is so pervasive in our society and this movie arrives on the scene and its late arriving by 14 years because no one thought an all women movie would sell.  Why do I think it is fascinating?  Because I think the movie is about sexism.

My very first impression when the movie began was that the actors were portraying the various women characters stereotypically.  In fact, to me, it was nearly like a SNL parody of different women.  You know exaggerating certain true characteristics of certain people to reveal the person but yet there is no real person like that.  But then I realized (or I think I did) that it was more than that.  Really the actors were making a statement that they were playing characters who were also playing characters.  In other words I think it is kind of a serious story inside a joke that's inside another joke.  

One joke is about the sexism of our culture and in particular how women are viewed in general.  I think the actors do this in spectacular fashion (kind of my own little joke using that word).  The other joke is about how women play the parts that are assigned them by our sexist culture.  

Then I think the real story of the movie is how all of the characters move from play acting to really living.  And that happens in the context of their relationships with one another.

As the movie progresses the actors play their characters more realistically and less stereotypically.  There's even a sub-plot where Sylvie quits her fashion magazine because the magazine publisher wants to run these trivial and stereotypical stories and she wants to run stuff about real people by real authors.  And she does at the end.

I would give it higher than a B except that I think it is actually a little too complex to really communicate the message.  And I may be really, really wrong, too.

But even if I am wrong it is an entirely enjoyable way to spend the better part of a couple of hours and there are some really good chuckles during that time.  And maybe even some other men will see it.

My popcorn was great and I had a good place to put both  it and my drink.  My seat rocked and reclined.  The  view was outstanding.  The presentation and the sound was flawless and wonderful.  

The theater bathrooms are great although there was a line at the women's.  But then again there is usually a line at the women's restrooms just about everywhere.  Another interesting commentary on our culture and the place of women perhaps?

Anyway I had a good time and I would recommend the movie and an open mind.

By the way my favorite character was Alex played by Jada Pinkett-Smith.  Her character is openly gay which is a drastic departure from the first film and from the original play.  I think the way this character is presented is another story inside the main story.  So I think it is wonderfully fitting in this particular story.

There are no critics who agree with me.  But I've never let something that trivial deter me from holding my own opinions.


Lori1955 said...

I've been trying to decide if I wanted to see that movie and now I think I will. Of course no I'll be looking to see if I notice what you saw in the movie. :)

~Betsy said...

This sounds like a movie I would really enjoy. I love stories that have stories within other stories - I'm weird like that! :)