I'm consciousness...I'm alive...I'm Chappie
First thing: It's been entirely too long since I've posted a blog.
That sentence alone took five rewrites. There's just been too much going on and here we are, already the first weekend of March and I still have my damn Christmas tree up. Actually, to say it's been busy is, well, probably an excuse but I'm gonna go with it. I mean, between working full-time, taking a class, dealing with some neck issues that has made writing pretty painful the last few weeks, and trying to binge watch just about every show in Netflix's library (thanks Frank Underwood), how could one possibly find time to blog? But then I found myself lying in bed this morning unable to sleep because my brain was too full. I needed to get up and get typing. So here we are.
Let me say this: Damn you, AMC Theatres for making my preferred way of viewing of movies (in the comfort of my own home, in jammies, on the couch with my husband and dogs) the second best place on earth, for a hot minute. Last night we went to see Chappie, and before I even give a review, I have to start with the experience at the Yorktown AMC now known as a "Dine-In Theatre." Spelling it that way--"re" versus "er"--makes it fancy, didn't you know?
Admittedly, we are snobs. It started with concerts when I worked in radio. Having VIP, sitting away from the regular masses, sipping on special drinks, became a way of life and an expectation. Even after I left the entertainment business, even if it meant paying for it, if we ain't sittin' we ain't goin'. Who wants to stand with a large crowd of drunk, obnoxious fans, when you can duke it out in a balcony suite with just a handful of idiots in VIP? Here's a secret...people sitting in VIP are not usually the band's/singer's biggest fans. They are the result of some media outlet greasing the hand of a client they are trying to impress or a wealthy season ticket holder who is just trying to get his money's worth on their pricey season ticket membership. Still, I'd rather fight off ten or twenty people in a small suite for the best viewing angle, then get caught behind the tallest person on earth down on the main floor. I'm too old and too lazy to do that shit anymore.
However, it has it's drawbacks. On a recent evening out to see one of my favorite bands, we get caught next to a "talker" as I like to call them. This is the person that is only there because it's cool and if you knew how many shows I've been to where that's been the norm, you'd wonder why I leave the house. This is the type of person that if Mick Jagger were standing right over their damn shoulder, they'd be turned in the opposite direction from the stage talking to their buddy about their day at work. Really people!? So, this "talker" is a woman with one of those high pitched voices that just grates on your nerves because it's all you hear until finally you just look at your husband and give him the "okay, shut this bitch up before I kill her" look. Still, despite a few hiccups like that, going VIP is the bomb.
So when the first batch of movie theatres in the city started selling reserved seating to movies? We were all over it. The VIP includes special seats, large than most, with the ability to bring in not just your favorite popcorn/candy/soft drink plethora of snacks, there's a bar! You can be fancy with your glass of Pinot and your special bowl of overpriced bacon covered popcorn and not fight to find the best seat because, you bought a specific seat in the house and can mosey on in just as the previews are starting if you'd like. It's been a way of life for us for a while now. We will drive ten miles to go to the theater with the better seats. If we can't get reserved seating, we just don't feel as special and usually won't bother to go to that theater.
Who knew, the experience would be brought to a whole new level. AMC Theatres has renovated their Yorktown Mall location not far from our house. As soon as we walked up to the building, my hubby says "wait, something's different." Indeed, something was different. First of all, no ticket booth with a long line of people who still haven't quite figured out the whole buy online thing. It was like walking into an airport--rows of kiosks with screens lit up just waiting for you to swipe your credit card. One girl standing between them in case you needed help. Don't worry, all those ticket takers have new jobs now...working behind the bar! Granted, the specialty drinks are pricey and there's only one--one!--massive bucket of popcorn ("with free refills" as if anyone could eat all that and want more) and one sized soft drink (this is where they get you I think). The restaurant food is (maybe) a step up from the menu you'd find at a sporting event. I'm still not sold on the idea of watching a movie and eating a philly steak sandwich while I do. I don't like being distracted by my food. All that pales in comparison to what happened next.
I was stopped dead in my tracks as we enter theatre 9. Big, leather stadium seats better than any we've ever parked our asses in before. Trays that swung over your lap large enough to hold dinner, dessert, your purse, a small dog maybe. Between each set of "love" seats are condiments and a call button for a server to bring you more of whatever you need. Now, I will stop here for a second because I really don't like the idea of people ordering food or whatever from a server, and TALKING, while I am trying to watch a movie. I mean, we pause a movie at home if our dogs start barking at the random Golden Retriever or squirrel that upsets the balance of their kingdom. But the theater was so massive, and mostly empty for this movie, I let the thought of my experience potentially being ruined slide. I sat in my designated seat, saw a button on the inside by my leg and looked up at my husband. "You've got to be kidding me." I looked at him as if my life was about to take an abrupt left turn. He sits down and finds his button. "Ready?' I ask. We push our buttons simultaneously and our chairs electronically recline. Not just recline, but lays almost flat. "Well, crap." I mutter. "Now, we need new furniture at home. Cuz this is the shit." It was the most comfortable, deliciously spoiled rotten way to enjoy a movie. Except for one tiny little flaw.
Twenty minutes in and I'm like nope! Down go my feet and I sit up straight in the seat. Too comfy for consciousness to be retained.
Anyway, this movie. THIS movie. Just reading the "Quotes" page on IMDB makes me tear up again. It takes a lot to make that happen. Usually the ASPCA ads on TV or a Pixar movie are about the only thing that make me cry.
There's a running joke in my family where I have been called "the robot" a time or two. For several reasons, but it comes down to my ability to keep an even head about things, never giving in too much to emotion. My sister will text me "bleep bloop" whenever I push my emotions down and think with my head. I tend not to get too sentimental, too mushy, too attached. I mean, why put yourself through the pain of loss if you expected loss to happen anyway, I guess is my mantra. That's obviously a defense mechanism for dealing with pain. Even I know that. And it wasn't ever more present than when my mom died. The second we were told she passed, I went in to work mode. What do we need to do, who do we need to call, how does it all work now--while my sister, dad and soon to be brother in law all melted down in front of me. I took the reigns of the situation and instead of mourning the loss, I buried myself in burying my mom.
From the get go, I expected that Chappie was going to be a sad movie although the trailer might make you think otherwise. It is a gritty, violent flick from District 9's director Neill Blomkamp about robocop-like machines set to keep the peace in South Africa. Hugh Jackman, with his weird, almost-a-mullet haircut, sees the risk of giving their robots autonomy. It took me writing that last sentence to stop thinking what a colossal jerk he was and actually realize how he was right. You see, Chappie achieves consciousness when his "maker" uploads a program into his mostly-scrapped body. Chappie has to deal with choosing between what is right and wrong, he gets attached to a motherly figure, and realizes his own "mortality" even though he's just metal, in the span of two hours. Giving inanimate objects feelings is a recipe for making me cry.
Despite the violence, at its heart, it is a sweet story but it reminds you that innocence is so easily corrupted because the world is a cruel place filled with cruel people. There were a few scenes where I struggled to keep my mouth shut as characters tried to force Chappie to do wrong and then physically hurt him. He was confused as to why this was happening to him. It made me want him to just turn back into an unfeeling robot because the real world is full of assholes. I don't want to give away too much of this movie, you can read reviews elsewhere. "Humans are terrible in Chappie and that's the point" may be my favorite review from the Atlantic.
I cried so much throughout this movie at its sweetness and heartlessness, I needed extra napkins. Luckily, there was a call button, should I run out. You'd have thought we were watching The Notebook or Terms of Endearment. I cried all the way to the car. I also may have cried at the fact we don't have reclining cushions at home like the theatre does.
See that there? Brought some humor back to the situation. I've had enough "feeling" for one day. See Chappie. If anything, you have to watch the South African rap-rave group members of Die Antwoord as they play mother and evil brother to Chappie. They do a great job as these characters and the movie is filled with their music which makes it even more graphic.
Until next time, bleep bloop!