' ' Cinema Romantico: Marking a Miserable Milestone

Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Marking a Miserable Milestone

Once, years ago, not long after 2003 I’d reckon for reasons about to become clear, my friend Nicolle asked me if I had seen the Chris Rock political comedy “Head of State” (2003). “Have I seen it?” I asked incredulously. “I saw it with you!” I replied, also incredulously. “At the Wynnsong 16!” Being able to remember where I have seen every movie since I started going to them on the regular is, along with being able to name every U.S. capital and every Nebraska football starter since 1985, my superpower.

I saw “Groundhog Day” with my whole family at the Westwood 6 in West Des Moines, the same theater where in the same year I saw “Cool Runnings”, for free, summoned past the line and over the velvet rope by an usher who was the older brother of one of my friends, my own personal Copacabana moment. 

I saw “The Family Stone” at the Esquire in Chicago not long before it closed and saw “The Merry Gentleman” (twice!) at Piper’s Alley before it, too, shuttered. I saw “Spotlight” and “Brooklyn” on the same day with a break for donuts and coffee in-between with My Beautiful, Perspicacious Wife at the Landmark Century which is an afternoon/early evening I have frequently dreamed about for the last year. I saw “Atonement” at the River East on Friday, saw “The Golden Compass” (Kidman!) at Webster Place on Saturday, wondering the whole time why I had not just a bought another ticket for “Atonement” instead, and then went and saw “Atonement” again at the Landmark Century on Sunday.

I saw “Ocean’s Twelve” with my best friend at the Ziegfeld in Manhattan and I saw “House of Flying Daggers” with my best friend and his future wife at some chain theater in Manhattan I admit I can’t name, though I do remember going up, like, 14 escalators, because even when I’m on vacation I still want to go to the movies.

Cities I have only briefly lived in I remember at least in part through where I saw movies. I saw “Cast Away” at the Shea 14 in Scottsdale, Arizona and “The Dish” too, which was my favorite movie-going experience in the Valley of the Sun, and “You Can Count on Me” and “Memento” at the Camelview 5 which was the one place in that sprawling suburb of a city housing anything independent. I saw “Scream 2” and “Starship Troopers” at the Campus III in Iowa City’s Capitol Mall, running into a dude in my rhetoric class at the former who was buying a ticket for “For Richer or Poorer” which prompted me to silently judge him on the spot, and “L.A. Confidential” and “Amistad” at the Englert (since transformed into a concert hall), the latter with a girl on what might or might not have been a date, I still don’t know.

I saw “Revenge of the Sith” at the previously mentioned Wynnsong 16 after a friend’s wedding, a reminder of a time when I could still stay up all night and still go to a movie the next day, and when I’d buy a newspaper, sprawl the movie times out in front of me on the kitchen table like an army general gleefully studying battle maps. Remember that? Remember just thinking, “Hmmmm, maybe I should see a movie today” and then figuring what’s playing and what you want to see and just, like, going? Remember that? [Sighs deeply.]

That “Star Wars” shout-out is not incidental. Three hundred and sixty-five days ago I went to the ArcLight and saw “The Rise of Skywalker” (bleh). That is to say, it has now, as of today, January 19, 2021, been exactly one year since I have gone to a movie.

I really want to go to a movie.

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