Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Fantasia Day 19 - The Perfect Host

A mellow Monday night with only a single 7:30 viewing, allowing me plenty of time to pick up some kimchi and ramen at the Korean grocery on St. Catherine and then have a delicious soft tofu soup at the Bulgogi House just up the street. After a weekend of double and triple bills, a single screening is almost too easy, especially when you are by yourself. I find myself planning and scheming about what snacks I should bring, what line-waiting entertainment material, where I should park my bike and so on when none of it is really necessary.

Though there actually was a pretty good turn-out at da Sève for The Perfect Host. I got there almost an hour early and the line, though spread out, had already turned the corner. I found a good seat, behind the lecturer's booth, with some leg room and no big head in front of me. Unfortunately, I also happened to also sit next to another poor example of the entitled generation. She seemed perfectly pleasant, if a bit weird (obsessively cupping her hand over her mouth when she talked on the cell phone, which did nothing to mask her banal conversation), before the movie started. However, once the short started, she decided that was a good time to start texting. I find the bright light of the cell phone extremely distracting. I really wish I could be zen about it, but it really does bother me. I waited a bit, but she kept doing it so I leaned over and said, in what I thought was a fairly polite manner, "that is very distracting." She kept on texting and I repeated it. She started shushing me! And kept on texting.

What am I supposed to do here? It's astounding to me that anyone would even text at all in a Fantasia showing (I've given up hope on the courtesy of the general movie-going public), but what truly blows my mind is how they get mad if you ask them to stop. As if I'm the asshole for politely asking them to stop doing what they aren't supposed to be doing anyhow! So you are either stuck, sucking up a bright light in your face, or escalating the situation and thus risking further bothering the other patrons. I chose to escalate. I asked her repeatedly to please stop texting. I swear to god, she said "I have important work to do." I told her that if she texted during the main feature, I would take her phone away. This flustered her only slightly. I think we have a population that has never had actual consequences for their behaviour and are so used to being protected by a cushy society and their coddling family, that they can't conceive that something real might actually happen to them.

I was really wrestling in my head what to do (and not enjoying the movie at all, which as I looked up had the guy attempting to sexually assault a woman, which made me feel really weird) and finally decided to go out and get the usher. I had to bump into all these people, but he came really quickly. When we got to her, of course she had stopped texting. Then she spent some time explaining into his ear why she was continuing to text. After she left, she turned to me and said "I continued to do it because of you." Way to go! What is she doing, acting out against daddy? Rebelling against her mean math teacher? Incomprehensible behaviour. My apologies to anyone around us that I disturbed by escalating. Maybe it will pay off in that she'll think twice next time, but I don't have high hopes.

Fortunately, The Perfect Host started out intriguingly. A young man stops a hold-up in a corner store (after his wallet is taken by the thief) where he was trying to buy some medicine and bandages for his badly bleeding foot. Unfortunately, the store owner chases him off too and he leaves empty-handed. It is clear that he is on the run and after trying to bluff his way into one house, finds another in a nice part of LA where he is able to read enough of a postcard in the mailbox to pretend that he knows some acquaintance of the homeowner.

The homeowner, played by David Hyde Pierce (who played Niles on Frasier), is really the focus of the movie. He's a little hesitant to let the guy in, but quickly reveals that he is a warm and welcoming guy, despite a dinner party he is planning his successful and sophisticated friends. There is a lot of great interplay going on in the first 10 minutes or so between Warwick (the host) and John (the intruder) whom we have since learned is a criminal on the run for a recent bank robber. The movie keeps you on your toes as you aren't sure exactly what's going on. The dialogue and the acting here are tight and nuanced and it's quite gripping. I don't think it's too much of a spoiler to say that the expected order of things gets upset and the situation becomes very weird and interesting. I'll leave it at that.

For a while, the movie heads off in a direction that didn't interest me so much. Fortunately, it didn't stay there for too long and the story takes off again. This is a neat movie, kind of a bastard son of the neo-noir with the more au courant psychological horror thriller. It has an early 90s feel to it (when those neo-noirs were all the rage) and I'm sort of surprised that it did with such a big name attached to it. Whether on purpose or due to a lack of budget, the lack of gloss and high-production slickness gives this movie an approachable feel that allows you to pay attention to the best part, the performance by Pierce (or is it Hyde Pierce? or should he just always be referred to as David Hyde Pierce?) and the story around his character. He really is quite entertaining and I think it's safe to say, carries the picture. [edit: in looking for pics for this post, I realized that David Hyde Pierce must have a not insignificant fan club. I think they will be extremely pleased by this movie.]

I had resolved by the end of the movie to apologize to the girl for being overly aggressive, but also to ask her what she thought would have been a better approach. I know tacking on that last question is a bit passive-aggressive, but I felt that some dialogue was called for. However, she got up and left hurriedly the instant the credits started rolling. She clearly was in a rush to get her important work done.

Despite my enjoyment of the movie, I may have made a tactical error in my scheduling. Word on the street is that both The Little Soldier and The Loved Ones are really good and that was the double bill over at the Hall. I'm not sure why I chose The Perfect Host over Little Soldier at the time. I know that The Loved Ones didn't really grab me, as the trailer made it look kind of hipster and twee (which I would have thought would have appealed to the kids, but it had fairly poor attendance, suprisingly). Again, just another example of the embarrassment of filmic riches that is Fantasia.

Here is a bonus picture of the inside of the projection booth at da Sève.

Man, could I poke around in there for several hours asking annoying questions!


meezly said...

maybe Fantasia should start playing a "Tommy the Texter" PSA's before each screening :-)


OlmanFeelyus said...

They so should. I'm going to seriously ask that some effort be put into communicating appropriate audience behaviour so that people can stop arguing about it.