Note: For those of you looking for a brief review of the film (rather than just the story of how I got us kicked out of the theater), scroll through the comments; there's some info for you there.
Dave called me at work the other day.
He'd managed to score preview passes to the new Russell Crowe Movie, Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World. The film, due to be released on November 14th, is based on Patrick O'Brian's popular Aubrey-Maturin series of naval adventures (which I've mentioned before).
Dave knows I am a fan of the books, so invited me to join him at the screening. I, in turn, invited Joel to join us (which worked well since, in order to see the film, I had to break a dinner engagement with him and Aimee); Joel's more passionate about the books than I am.
Our wives met at Nicholas' Restaurant for Lebanese food, and we men met at the movie theater. While we waited beneath the hot late-summer sun we chatted eagerly about the film. Joel and I have been following the early comments from previewers who have submitted their impressions to Ain't It Cool News (examples here and here). Would the film live up to our expectations?
The line moved slowly. People from the marketing firm conducting the preview asked us our ages and occupations. They screened us with a metal detector. They hand-searched our bags. It was quite clear that no recording devices would be allowed inside.
The theater was filled to capacity. Several seats, including two near us, were taped off for members of the marketing firm. While getting refreshments, Dave and I ran into Clara. She didn't know anything about the movie, but she and her niece like Russell Crowe; they were there to see him. Before the film started a woman from the marketing firm announced that this was a preliminary cut, an unfinished version, and that in spots there might be special effects which had not yet been completed.
During the film I took notes. This may seem odd, but it's something that I do from time-to-time. I took notes during Peter Jackson's Helms Deep, for example. I take notes so that I can remember my impressions. In this case, I also wanted to compare details with the books and later to compare differences between this rough version of the film and the final theatrical release. (Too, I wanted to take notes so that I could post my impressions here, in this weblog.)
The film started slowly, but midway through I began to enjoy it. I jotted down a note here and there, though it was difficult to write in the dark. The H.M.S. Surprise sat becalmed near the Galapagos Islands when a man leaned over my seat and tapped me on the shoulder. "Could you come with me, sir," he said.
"Sure," I said, handing Joel my Kit Kat Bites. I thought they must be interviewing people to get individual impressions of the film.
"Are you here alone?" he asked when we reached the lobby. I told him that no, I was watching the film with two friends. I wondered what kinds of things he would ask me about the film. Maybe I could tell him I thought the film needed more exposition.
"What are you doing?" he asked, his face earnest, concerned, searching. He indicated the pen and paper in my hand. It was then that I realized the error of my ways. I knew that I wasn't going to be allowed to see the rest of the film.
"Oh — I'm just taking a few notes," I said.
He seemed upset. "Why? This is an unfinished movie. We just want a general audience reaction. We don't want people reviewing the film. It's an unfinished movie. It wouldn't be fair to review it."
"But…" I began, in an attempt to explain that I didn't intend anything untoward.
"It's an unfinished film," he interrupted.
"But…" I tried again.
"What are the names of your friends?" he asked me. I told him, and he disappeared into the theater. He returned with Joel and Dave. He explained to us that we wouldn't be allowed to watch the end of the film, it was an unfinished film, and it wouldn't be fair to review it. He offered to get us into any other film there. When we explained that our wives would be waiting for us, he had the manager get us each two free movie passes instead.
The man wasn't rude; he was conciliatory, but firm. Because I had been taking notes (notes that he took from me and did not return, by the way), we were kicked out of the theater.
I felt terrible. I'd looked forward to seeing this film, yes, but worse, I had spoiled the evening for my companions. Dave, though, seemed to find the whole situation hilarious. (I admit that it reminded me very much of some of our misadventures in junior high.)
We returned to Joel's house, but our wives had not returned yet. After dinner, Karen took Kris and Aimee to the bar at the Springwater Grill, a spot that she and Dave frequent. They came home soon after we did, and the six of us sat in the back yard, under the apple tree, where Kris and Joel and Dave enjoyed a fine round of political debate.
In the end, it is the wives who profited from the evening: they had a good dinner, enjoyed a couple of drinks, and, thanks to my blunder, they'll get to see a free movie.
Stay tuned tomorrow for the story of how I was unable to find the field for our last soccer game. (I might as well get all of the embarrassing stories out at once.) Now, perhaps Joel and Dave will entertain us by sharing their version of events.
On this day at foldedspace.org
2005 — Snapshots We had a rather busy weekend. Here are some anecdotes and photos.
2002 — The End? It dawned on me today: the computer has a power switch.