Sunday, March 19, 2017

Situational Extrovert

"I'm not going to go to a movie by myself!"

So says the titular character in "Donald Cried," this weekend's brand spanking new film (it only opened in D.C. Friday and here it is already at our little arthouse theater) at the Bijou, and with sufficient disdain to make it sound like going to the movies alone is akin to going to prom alone.

Not that I'd know, since I didn't go at all.

As it happened, I heard that line sitting in the theater where the only other two occupants of the first row with me were, like me, at a movie alone.

I don't get it. You're not supposed to talk during a movie anyway, so why is going alone such a cringe-inducing option? Besides, when it's just me, I always get to choose which movie to see and when.

Before tonight's screening even got started, I joined the three solo film-goers in the lobby - two familiar, one new to me but nothing that an introduction didn't take care of - to talk about (what else?) movies, while the Shins played on a nearby turntable.

One admitted he has a habit of devoting entire Tuesdays to catching up on mainstream movies at Movieland, although he learned early on that if you start with something heavy like "The Green Room," you'll have zero emotional energy left to stay for further screenings.

He also assured me that I'd appreciate "Logan" even with limited testosterone and no interest in the "X-Men" franchise whatsoever, although he didn't fully convince me. Being guys, they seemed to think that because it's Hugh Jackman's final turn as Wolverine after 17 years, that's reason enough.

If you've got a "Y" chromosome maybe.

And on the subject of holding on to a man's younger self, tonight's screening of "Donald Cried" provided a tragicomedy about a 30-something man-child still living with Mom who has more unresolved issues than could possibly be dealt with in 90 minutes, many of which were exacerbated by his former best friend metalhead coming back to town when his Grandmother dies.

Because apparently boys will always be boys, there was the requisite rough housing, snowball fighting, weed smoking and thinly-veiled, long-simmering resentments bubbling up. It seems certain things don't change for some people no matter how old they get.

That first time director Kris Avedisian wrote the screenplay and also plays Donald (as one guy tonight said, "Because who else could fully inhabit that part and make him seem human?") only added to the believability of the character and his stunted life.

That he shot it in a crowded snow-covered suburb that felt formless and constrained mirrored the lives led by those who had stayed there.

But the strength of the film was that it wasn't a continuous pity party for Donald (though he certainly deserved some) because so often the audience's sympathy landed squarely with his best friend Pete, who while seemingly more successful in a conventional sense, had a fair number of issues of his own.

And that's not even counting dealing with Donald after two decades.

Much as I appreciated the movie, I had no frame of reference for it since I'm not from a small town and I've never once run into someone from my 1000-person high school class since graduating. So afterward, back in the lobby and talking about what we'd just seen, all three of these guys attested to returning to their small towns to find former classmates virtually unchanged since high school.

They knew guys like Donald, while I didn't. The movie necessarily resonated differently for them, especially the one headed back to a small town in Colorado soon.

So, let's see, how many movies have been made about men resisting growing up? Let's start with "Peter Pan" and go from there, shall we? Man-child fascination aside, what I'm truly curious about is, are there actually still grown men who wouldn't think of going to a movie solo?

I have to say, the three tonight represented well for those men who can not only venture into a darkened theater alone, but for those with civility as well. When we left the theater, I asked if anyone was walking my way and wound up with company for all but the last two blocks.

Sure, I could have walked by myself. But why would I not want to continue a conversation with a guy capable of solo movie-going?

Apparently, they're not as commonplace as womenfolk might hope.


  1. sometimes going solo is best. others may be a distraction.