Why sex at the movies is bad for teens

I’m not talking about drive-ins. Drive-ins were invented for high-school sex. That’s why drive-in movies were so bad; nobody cared. Too bad there aren’t any drive-ins left. At least now, no more finger-bowl jokes.

In this post, I’m talking about youth, or youths, indoors at the multiplex and why sex is a bad idea for them there.

No Pee-Wee Herman jokes, please. What a man does inside the confines of his own raincoat is not germane to this discussion. However, I will try to address the case of teens in raincoats on a stormy day at the multiplex and why sex between them is not recommended, with or without their hoods up; with or without furled brollies.

And of course, no popcorn-tub-in-the-lap jokes. Popcorn-tub-in-the-lap sex is tried and tested and globally approved. It’s off the table.

Kermode and Mayo’s Code of Conduct doesn’t explicitly forbid sex during a screening. How to explain this? Well, examine their photos carefully. Does that answer the question?

First, a couple of exceptions to the no-movie-sex rule:

1. Pride and Prejudice (2005) – If this film is playing on a Wednesday night in the high-school cafeteria, experience has shown that mousy girls with glasses and pleated wool skirts may be susceptible to clumsy groping. Go for it, while keeping an eye peeled for the teacher chaperones.

2. Godzilla (1998) – For some unknown reason, giant lizard movies can cloud a young girl’s mind. If you’re a freshman, you’d be a fool to ignore this fact.

3. The Ten Commandments (1956) – Go for it when the Red Sea parts, because of all the noise and excitement and general Biblical exultation, unless all that water makes your girlfriend jump up and head for the Ladies room.

4. Those VD warning movies from the 40s and 50s. There were never any girls in the room when they showed them, but if there had been one there, it would have been perverse and ironic if she were a flossie little roundheels.

Sex and cine-surfing don’t mix. Your underwear comes up missing and it could be anywhere.

Don’t do it during a Roadrunner cartoon. Wrong message.

Don’t do it in a theater that’s sold out.

If you and your partner cold-bloodedly plan to do it in advance, you can order your tickets through Fandango.

If you’re at the movies and you simply can’t restrain yourself, make sure that your partner is not a “screamer.”

Why organ transplants are important to the movies

Organ transplants: Dirty Pretty Things (2002). The movie takes place in London. As I remember it, there are no Caucasian faces in the film unless you count Audrey Tautou playing a Turk. This is because we are dealing with organ source, not organ destination. In the old days, the movies could tie a guy up but then they had to either let him escape or kill him. Now they can harvest his valuable body parts. What does this tell us about the relationship of technology to culture in cinema?

Well, take this example: in Mondo Cane (1962), there is a segment about hair transplants. Hair plugs, that is, back when they had just been invented and meant something. Is hair an organ? No. But Burt Reynolds was Number One, “Numero Uno,” as he liked to brag over drinks at the Cat N Fiddle, or whatever was there before the Cat N Fiddle – I remember the location but not the establishment, and I remember the bragging, although Burt is really a sweet guy – Number One at the box office for several years, but now,  in all the years since his hair fell out, he’s never made a single movie that I know of without wearing a rug and I mean, a rug that you know is a rug. But you could never say that about his retinas if he had new ones swapped in.

Similarly, take a movie like Percy (1971), which deals with penile replacement. Two elements of the organ issue stick out here. The first is that Elke Sommer and Brit Eckland, in spite of being stars, were forced to take roles in which they were confronted with a damned second-hand penis. It’s an outrage! Art should reward art, not consign the artist to a position aproximating that of pawnbroker to the genitals. Sure, the two women are Scandinavian and so can laugh off the awkwardness of the situation, but note that their hands remain in their pockets throughout their interviews with the gossip rags. The second issue is that in real life, before pharmacogy came up with the blue pill, surgical intervention meant implanting walrus bone in the limp member, leading to a permanent, but fake, state of arousal. The price? Never to wear a Speedo at Masters lap swimming again.

See where I’m going here? Do you remember that movie where a hand creeps around on the back of a couch strangling people, and then, in that movie or some other movie, I forget, a concert pianist gets the hands of a strangler sewed onto his stumps, and after that, every time he plays Chopin, he tries to choke himself to death, which, even when he includes a “warning advisory” on the programs for his concerts, messes the concerts all up? Medicine is out of control and it’s because of the profit motive. So I don’t blame the  movies for this.

You need a heart, have to have one, but a movie doesn’t. Ironically, if it’s got one, it might steal yours too. If you have half a brain, you can tell when a movie has no brain. You can see it. If you aren’t sighted, you can hear it. Helen Keller was said to go to movies, but it was to use her sense of touch on the thigh of the guy next to her. She said that even when you’re completely senseless, a movie with soul can enter through your soles. She’d laugh at this, so apparently it was a joke.

Dog movies

I don’t have a dog. I hold no brief against dogs, mind you, but if I’ve got to watch a dog movie, I prefer that it be one about a guy who has turned into a dog, so that it’s actually more a  guy movie than a dog movie. Beyond The Shaggy Dog (1959) and its remake, I don’t know what my choices are with this, but it’s what I want.

If  it must be a movie about an actual dog, I’ll settle for the following:

– A big, rabid dog like Cujo (1983).

– A dog that’s the spawn of Hell, like Beefy in Little Nicky (2000).

– Goofy or Pluto

– A zombie dog. Blood Creek (2009) has zombie horses. There must be a movie out there with a crowd of human zombies and their dogs – humans and dogs alike having gone to the dogs. A sexy female weredog would also be acceptable.

– A talking dog, as in Beverly Hills Chihuahua (2008).

Best would be a movie in which a cat, not a guy, turns into a dog. The owner whistles. The dog does not react. The owner shouts “Here, Spot! Come!” The dog does not react. The dog holds its tail straight up, weirding out the owner. The dog pads over to the sofa and stretches up to claw the cushions with those big black doggy claws. It keeps its tongue in its mouth.

No, wait. I’d rather go with a movie in which a monkey, not a cat, turns into a dog. The dog shows its teeth in a grin. It chatters. It eats a banana. It abuses itself.

Or if it’s got to be a movie about a real dog, maybe it’s a dog who turns into an octopus. A giant octopus, say, that pulls itself up onto the Golden Gate Bridge, and then along the bridge’s fast lane into the city, where it lifts all eight tentacles at once and pisses on a hydrant.

Worst movies where Dad promises to make it to the kid’s performance or game

The marriage hinges on it:

“You’re never here for him/her!”

“Honey, I swear I’ll be there for Heidi’s  Christmas play.”

“You’d better be, you $%##*&.”

In these movies, it’s sort of Dad’s last chance. Hey, I’ve been there. You work and work, miss a family dinner or two, the kid is asleep when you get home, so you sit down in front of the game and have a few drinks instead of helping her with her homework, and the next thing you know, the wife hands you an ultimatum: Get your ass to the Forndale Gammar School auditorium and onto one of the folding chairs tomorrow night or we’re through! Your daughter is Dixon or Ditson or whatever the frack that reindeer is named and  she wants you there to see it.

Even if I had made it, the wife would have come up with something else the next week.

5. Jingle All the Way (1996) – I don’t actually go to many movies, especially since the divorce. I used to go with the wife and kid but now I usually just stop in at the Beer Sponge instead. I know that Arnold is a busy guy, a businessman,  in this one. Maybe he didn’t have to go to a Christmas pageant in the movie, I can’t remember, but I was proud to have him as Governor.

4. Up (2009) – There must be a thousand movies where Dad just makes it in time, or doesn’t make it, or whatever. You could google them. Somebody told me that the dad misses his kid’s ceremony in this one. What about all those negligent moms? What about them?

3. Precious (2009) – Like the mom in this one? Mo’Nique? She’s no prize. The dad shows up on time, too, even if it’s just to sexually molest his daughter. This guy will never be governor of anything.

2. Liar, Liar (1997) – Jim Carrey misses his son’s birthday party because he is having sex with his secretary. I’m taking this one off the list, because it seems like an acceptable excuse to me.

1. Tiger Woods – He’s not a movie, but Tiger, or Eldrick, as his friends and the hookers like to call him, missed his daughter’s birthday party. It was the final straw, along with the hookers.

Don’t make me watch it!

A couple of years ago, my son asked me what my IMDB number was. According to him, I could figure this out by looking at the IMDB Top 250 list and, starting with movie #1, counting the movies on the list that I hadn’t seen yet. When I reached ten unseen movies, I was to check how far I had got in the list. So, beginning with Shawshank and The Godfather, I ran my eyes down the list. Found a movie I hadn’t seen: One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (1975), currently #9. Then The Usual Suspects (1995), currently #25 (I had started TUS multiple times, but never finished it. Perhaps if I had realized that Gabriel Byrne was going to become my therapist, I would have done better.)  Sunset Blvd (1950), #30. In no time, I had ten movies that I hadn’t seen, and I was only up to #65 on the list, out of 250. So, my IMDB number: 65. Embarrassing.

If I watched one of the ten I had found, I could then continue down the list to the next unseen movie, which happened to be #73. So I watched The Usual Suspects. Took a little patience, because for whatever reason, the movie did not engage me, but when it was finished, my IMDB number magically jumped from 65 to 73. I looked over the complete list of 250, to see how many movies I would have to watch to ascend to an IMDB number of 250 (that is, nine or less movies unseen on the list, or ten, if the tenth happened to be #250). Ugh. At least 135 unseen movies, all of which I had declined to watch in the past for whatever reasons.

So I began watching those movies and I quickly discovered that I  had never wanted to see most of them for good reason. The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948). Major downer with Bogart acting like a real skunk. All the Billy Wilder movies. I am not on the Wilder wavelength. Metropolis (1927) and Sunrise (1927). Thank God I watched Metropolis before they found its missing reel in Brazil; that extra viewing time might well have driven me over the edge into madness. Sunrise: contrary to the message of this movie, don’t have an affair and then try to murder your wife, her knowing it while you’re doing it, and then expect her to enjoy a night out on the town with you THE SAME DAY.

What I ended up doing was, taking three movies at a time and watching five or ten minutes of each of them every night, before switching over to something fun. Even five minutes of Sunset Blvd. or Double Indemnity (1944) seemed interminable. Fred MacMurray emoting about how perfect their plan would be, and then they run out with some half-assed scheme and get screwed? Noir, or lazy writing?

Finally, with 35 movies left unseen on the list, I couldn’t take it anymore. I walked away. For maybe a year. But then, I came back, as when I came back to earn those last few merit badges to make Eagle scout. Went back into five-minutes-of-boring-hell mode and reached the point where I only seven left on the list, and each of them partially watched: Scarface (1983), The Lion King (1994), the one about the two kids in firebombed Tokyo, Grave of the Fireflies (1988), and I forget the others. Pooped out again. Also never made Eagle scout. In addition to the merit badges, there were time requirements and probably something I needed to do to prove to BSA that I wasn’t a homosexual communist or a Democrat. In Albany, Georgia, our Boy Scout troop swam nude at the YMCA every week. I should have earned some sort of merit badge for that. Just surviving the dives off the low board was worth something.

By the way, I’m not promoting the IMDB list as anything other than some sort of weird hybrid crowd-pleasing vs Classic Comic Books mutant that no one could ever take seriously, but it’s a list and it’s the list that I was challenged to conjure with.

I am also not calling out the movies that I hated watching as bad movies. Perhaps they’re all great movies. I’m not saying otherwise. Just don’t make me watch them again.

Also, I suffered but I’m glad that I did it. I’m glad that I’ve seen All About Eve (1950). I don’t like Bette Davis. How come it’s not Betty or Bettie? I never liked her. But somebody mentions All About Eve every time I turn around and hah, I’ve seen it.  Ditto Into the Wild (2007). I sat there and watched the guy starve to death and I did it for the sake of art. But I won’t have to watch that other guy cut off his arm, not unless at some point I get the notion of updating myself on the IMDB list and find the arm-cutting-off-movie there.

A fellow cinema-lover, Rissalada, has been participating in an event (The Director’s Cup) that examines and evaluates movie directors – or something. He mentioned to me in passing, in a message, that in the course of his participation, he had had to suffer through quite a few films that he didn’t like, as part of the project. I then asked myself, when do I watch movies that I don’t like, and why? I asked him too,  and he replied with the following:

“Regarding watching movies on a list vs. picking movies you think you would like based on other more reliable factors, that’s an interesting thing to explore. There were times in the directors cup where I was getting pretty sick of watching films I just hated and was thinking about all the movies I was more interested in seeing, this especially occurred near the end when I had become much more familiar with the directors still in it, especially the ones I had not enjoyed. In fact, the winner of the whole cup, Nikos Nikolaidis, is now one of my least favorite directors! But, I love lists and having a format like this that can be used for discussion, so that is what made me commit.”

Another movie-watcher, Michael Troutman, has been working his way through a 1001-movie list. I asked him what kept him going with movies he didn’t like in a comment thread to one of his reviews. For one thing, he doesn’t give up on a film till he gets to The End, because you never know:

“I want to finish it because some films don’t pull together until the end and others don’t suck until the end. The Usual Suspects, for example, is rather unremarkable until you get to the ending. If anyone said they didn’t like the movie I would immediately ask about the ending. If they hadn’t watched the whole thing then I would tell them they don’t know what they are talking about. It’s like trying to comment on a painting having only seen the bottom half.”

Some other thoughts on the subject, from the Filmspotting Forum:

“I usually stay for 2 reasons: one, out of the perverse belief it may get better, two, so I compound the damage the earlier part of the film caused. Heck I even stayed to the end of Enter the Void and I was begging for the film to finish with at least 20 minutes to go. Admittedly I was with other filmspotters at the time, so I did have a reason to stay. Still most films I do find some pleasure in, so it is not often that the stopping watch comes up.”

A number of folks I asked said that they were picky in the first place, and usually found something to like in any movie, so that the issue of suffering through a movie rarely came up.

“Walk away
Fast Forward button
Life’s too short”

“I so rarely walk out that I can count the times on one finger (Hi Shopgirl!)… I usually just catch up on sleep.”

“I used to work in a movie theater and I watched every film that played there.  Sometimes a movie would be terrible, then in the last 15 minutes there would be a small, wonderful moment.  Just a tiny bit of interest.  And while it couldn’t save the film, it made the experience worth while.  It gave me a movie memory to take with me.  For example, Loaded Weapon 1 is, was and always will be a terrible film.  However in the final third there’s a delightful cameo from Bruce Willis that really worked.

“As for a film not being to my liking, I find myself watching and rewatching films from acclaimed directors I don’t enjoy because there must be a reason why they’re cherished.  I’m not going to rail against Terrence Malick, only to have someone point out that I haven’t seen Days of Heaven “which is his best film”.  If I’m going to not like these masters, I’ll have a good reason and strong evidence to support this.  Plus, things can turn around (and I hope they do).  My appreciation of John Wayne has extended to finally enjoying John Ford after 20+ films.  Roger Ebert disliked most every David Lynch film until Mulholland Dr., after which he commented “all is forgiven”.  It’s one of his favorite films of all time, and I think it’s given him a terrific window in which to appreciate Lynch’s unique artistry.”

“If it’s because I’m going through a checklist, then yes… for the sake of being able to say I’ve done that list.  But also because I want to be able to criticize the movie without someone countering with “well you didn’t watch the whole thing so what do you know?”.

“Plus: writing scathing reviews is more fun than writing praising reviews. Cheesy

“Besides, watching movies you don’t like is a valuable experience.  It helps hone, solidify and articulate exactly what you like and don’t like in movies.

“One of my projects this year is going to be revisiting highly-acclaimed movies that I didn’t like much the first time (The Apartment, The Searchers, The Lady Eve, several others… maybe Gone With the Wind) and see if the years of experience (and maybe less of a chip on my shoulder) have made a difference.”

And now that I’ve thought about it, some part of me wants to go farther than just watching and enjoying; there is a desire in there somewhere to understand movies, be knowledgeable, have a history, a relationship with movies that goes beyond the first date.

It gives me a warm feeling to have seen all those movies, even if it was in snippets. Makes me feel superior to the me that hadn’t done it yet. The pain was worth it. In fact, now, sometimes, I find myself believing that I enjoyed all those movies. They were great! You should see them.

Wendy Hiller

You know how they say that if a man marries another man or a woman marries another woman, the next thing you know some guy is going to marry his pet goat or his tractor? And even so, men are marrying men and women are marrying women all the time now? So I’m thinking that I’ll marry a DVD. Then it can stay home while I go to work. If I get sick, it can come with me to the hospital. If it gets broke, I can have coverage through my job to get it fixed.

In the case of a divorce, I can just put it into its box and return it to Blockbuster and claim that I finally found it, behind the sofa, and ask for my money back.

Didn’t see that coming.

At some point in Lost, I realized that one reason I was enjoying the series so much was that every so often, something completely unexpected (to me) would occur. For example, in one episode, a boat full of the show’s regulars circle the island for the first time and up on the shore, slowly swinging into view, sits, or stands, a giant stone foot. Now that’s entertainment… Although, what does a foot do? If it’s on its side, it just lies there. But upright, on its sole, is it standing? Can it crouch? Hunker?

In the same way as Lost, Caprica (2009) has surprised me enough to make me happy to continue watching, even though I started the series just because I liked BSG so much that I thought I’d give Caprica a look, in spite of the fact that it seemed to  me that I’d be unlikely to engage with something the end of which is spelled out by the beginning of the show it spun off from. Should I rephrase that? In particular, the Zoe/Cyborg duality announced, to me at least, that the series would go places that I did not anticipate. Ditto the stuck-in-cyberspace trope.

The Disappearance of Alice Creed (2009) drops in its surprises at the beginning of each act, perhaps not as unanticipated as those in Lost, but fun nevertheless. Or are those twists? Twists surprise, but are they a subset of surprises?

Leaves of Grass (2009), in retrospect, goes where it had to go, but step by step I was surprised. It sort of changed genres partway through? Like a twist, a surprise subset?

Watching Inception (2010) again, I see that it features those surprise moments, doled out one by one: yes, you can go into a dream, but there are also levels; yes, you can go down a level but time expands when you do and the level is more unstable; yes, you wake up when killed, except…

When the Chief of Police tells the hero, “I’ll give you 83 hours, but after that I’ll have to take your badge,” we know that the issue will be resolved in 82 hours and 59 minutes, but when the Chief of Police, out of the blue,  says, “I’ll give you 83 hours, but Jack, please try not to turn into an invisible pregnant woman again,” that’s a surprise, cause you know he will.

Robert Parker, R.I.P.

I started reading Robert B. Parker detective novels in 1973 when he published “The Godwulf Manuscript.”  Once he got rolling, he wrote a new book every six months or so and I looked forward to them and checked them out of the library and read them like I used to read Nancy Drew stories when I was a kid. Or I’d listen to them on tape. He’s written so many, over such a stretch of time, that I can listen to them more than once without remembering in advance exactly what’s going to happen. These days, he’s the only author that I treat this way… Jesse Stone is one of his ongoing characters and I was delighted to see Stone show up in a TV movie, with Tom Selleck doing the honors, back in 2005. I like Tom Selleck. He was, and still is, too old for the part, but I’m giving him a pass cause he’s Tom Selleck. The movie (Jesse Stone: Stone Cold (2005)) is true to the series and the Stone character and is as light and fluffy as the Parker books. Just something for a Parker fan to sit back and enjoy, especially knowing that there are four more after this one, and counting. The Spenser TV show never interested me, but then I wasn’t watching TV when it ran anyway (R.I.P., Robert Urich, liver (?) cancer, 55)… More recently, Parker turned out some westerns, and one of them, Appaloosa (2008), found the screen. Didn’t do so well critically or commercially, but it fit the book to a T. No better possible actor for it than Ed Harris. The book has two sequels; bring back Harris for another turn… Anyway, Parker dropped dead at his writing desk, just as my other lifetime favorite, John D. McDonald. Got to go find somebody else to like. Guys like George Pelacanos and Richard Price are swell, but they don’t crank out the lightweight material like Parker did.

“Saw” Redux

Checked out a pile of books at the library yesterday, including “Mr. Wolf and the Three Bears,” by Jan Fearnly (Harcourt, Inc. Copyright 2001). Forgot my rule: avoid children’s books with “fear” in them.

On the couch with the two- and three-year-old grandkids, reading.

The Mr. Wolf story: nice wolfe and his grandma prepare for a visit by the three bears. The wolves cook up some treats (after carefully washing their paws): sandwiches for momma bear, using recipes from a magazine article; cupcakes for poppa bear, using a recipe from a tv cooking show; a birthday cake for baby bear, using a recipe from a cookbook; finally, an added treat, required by the plot if not by logic, using a recipe from the intranet. Then the wolves clean the house, make party hats, etc., etc.

The bears arrive, but uh oh. The annoying Goldilocks has tagged along. She hogs the food, opens all the presents, and is in general a bad-mannered nuisance and pest.

Finally, it’s game time. Hide and seek. But, says Grandma Wolf, no one is allowed to hide in the kitchen.  The game drags on a bit as it seems to take grandma a long time to find everybody. When she has done so, it appears that Goldilocks has left and gone home without even saying goodbye.

From the text:

“Never mind,” said Grandma. “She’s gone now, and I’ve made us a special treat to celebrate.”

She disappeared into the kitchen…

[Next page]

…and emerged with a great big beautiful pie, all golden and steaming hot from the oven, with a buttery, crumbly, melt-in-your-mouth crust right on top.

[Picture of Grandma Wolf bringing out a huge pie.]

“Grandma!” cried Mr. Wolf. “You made a pie after all! Where did you find the ingredients?”

[Picture of the three bears and two wolves all licking their lips as they eyeball the  steaming pie on the table.]

“Oh, you never know what you’ll find in the kitchen when you’re playing hide-and-seek,” she said, smiling. “Happy birthday, Baby Bear!”

[They put four candles on the steaming pie. Baby bear is delighted. Grandma Wolf sits back in her easy chair with a big grin. Her white apron has remained spotless.]

My grandkids look at each other. They look at me.

“So, Grandpa,” they say. “What’s in the pie?”

Going to the Movies

The guys on /Filmcast were sharing terrible experiences at the cineplex today. Kermode and Mayo are assembling a list of behaviors that should be banned within the theater. Meanwhile, slowly but surely (as opposed to slowly but unsurely, or quickly but surely), I’ve practically stopped going to the movies. I was there for Furry Vengeance (2010), because my daughter shows up in it. I was surrounded by youngsters and their parents, all of whom, like me, seemed to like the movie and laughed in the right places. My daughter and I spent an evening at the Stanford, a restored movie palace in Palo Alto with a functioning organ for the silent offerings, and saw Flying Down to Rio (1933) and another 30s film, the name of which I’ve forgotten (feel free to remind me), about an elderly impecunious woman who pretends to be a… what?…countess? baroness? or whatever, to impress her daughter’s visiting fiancee… or something like that. This was on a weeknight and various seniors and lonely singles were scattered about the theater. We sat over on the side. That’s about it for my movie-going, with the following exception: my son and daughter-in-law gave me two gift cards to the local metroplex several years ago and every six months or so I go over on a weekday afternoon, buy an In-and-Out burger, and use my gift card to obtain a ticket to a random movie – and then surf around inside for five or six hours. The last time that I did this, I watched Inception (2010) and Salt (2010) and parts of The Expendables (2010), and… uh… three or four others, which I forget… the climax of Avatar (2009), for one, my first time checking out the new 3D – I found one pair of glasses in the barrel at the back. The 3D I didn’t like so much.

When I pull into a parking lot, I take the first space that I come to, way out on the edge. Similarly, in the theater I like to sit on the side or in the back, anywhere where the seat population is sparse. The notion of getting stuck in front of somebody texting or tweeting or unwrapping something hard to unwrap or with a tub on their lap, of popcorn, ugh.

But with lots of space, empty seats, around me, and lots of time to kill and that big screen unobstructed up there in front of me, the sound thumping, with burgers and coke and my legs draped over the seat in front of me, it’s still the best.