“Everything I learned, I learned from movies.” Audrey Hepburn

Whether it’s at the cinema with popcorn or your own home with much more affordable – and quite possibly better – popcorn, most of us enjoy a good movie.  Movies allow us to escape. They take us to places we’ve never been and they broaden our horizons, offering us a window into wider worlds. Over the past four decades, Mr. Smith and I have indulged in many an afternoon or evening at the movie theater.  However, these days it seems to take something quite tantalizing to entice us away from our comfy sofa and pay the hefty ticket price. Plus, there’s always a chance of sitting next to someone who thinks he must narrate the entire film to his friends.

Today, with Netflix, Hulu, iTunes and all the numerous services available in the comfort of our own living room, we have too often chosen to hunker down at home and take advantage of the unlimited inventory of movies available online. On any given evening while perusing what’s assessable, we often check out the perspective films’ ‘Rotten Tomato’ ratings, then make a choice and hopefully don’t fall asleep! 

 Recently my movie watching stars aligned and I found myself at an actual theater three times within a two-week period. Here are my quick impressions of some current theater fare.

Book Smart

On my last road trip, I spent a Wednesday afternoon at the theater seeing Book Smartwith my sister and her daughter-in-law.  Directed by Olivia Wilde and written by four women, it is a coming of age/end of high school romp.  Two academic overachievers and best friends are shocked to discover that students they had labeled as losers had somehow managed to balance hard work and play during their high school years. They had gained admission into good colleges and universities despite partying their way through high school and weren’t doomed to spend the rest of their lives asking, “do you want fries with that?”  Because of this revelation, the bookish friends set off to cram four years of fun into one night so they won’t graduate without ever having attended a wild party.

Chandler Levack, Globe & Mail, wrote “Book Smart is a love letter to any young woman who has ever stayed home on a Friday night to watch a Ken Burns documentary.” 

 I think I may be a little too old to entirely bond with this movie.  I was hoping for something a little more bookish, but there are certainly many hilarious and poignant moments.

Non-Fiction

Father’s Day turned out to be a rainy, chilly day, so Mr. Smith and I ventured out to our local independent theater to see Non-Fiction,written and directed by Oliver Assayas. This gabfest of French sophisticates is sexy, witty and fun!  I’m not always a fan of movies that are dialogue heavy, but I found Non-Fiction to be marvelously entertaining.  It revolves around a revered Parisian publishing house and the future of books and literature in the internet age and who is sleeping with whom. Lots of talk and plenty of sex. Word to the wise: if you are going to use your affairs as fodder for your novel, you may want to be careful who you are sleeping with!

Late Night

Mr. Smith was out of town and I was drowning in house moving details, so what’s a girl to do?  I went to the movies!   I left work a few minutes early on Wednesday to grab the 5:00 showing of Late Night, written by Mindy Kaling and directed by Nisha Ganatra. The talented Mindy Kaling wrote Late Night specifically for Emma Thompson, despite never having met her but hoping she would accept the part!  It was in inspired choice as Ms. Thompson played her part with just the right amount of elitism despite being a late-night talk show host whose ratings are in a nose dive and has been informed she’s on her way out the door.  With a reputation as “the woman who hates women”, Thompson, hired Kaling as a writer for her show to prove she doesn’t hate women and per her producer’s suggestion, fills a “diversity” slot. Late Night deals with many familiar workplace issues, illustrating that diversity is also about class, gender and age.  At first the all-male writing staff seemed hopelessly chauvinistic, but as their separate personalities emerged, the tensions eased. As in many good movies, there is more going on than meets the eye.  You have an opportunity to see people in more than one dimension, complete with their flaws and frailties.  

For awhile I thought I was going to have a private viewing of Late Night, but I was eventually joined by six others!

The Rotten Tomato ratings for these movies were relatively high.  But what is Rotten Tomato?  I always thought it was a movie review company. Turns out it is the leading online aggregator of movie and TV show reviews from critics.  The Tomatometer score is based on the opinions of hundreds of film and television critics.  

I was surprised to see Book Smart had the highest Rotten Tomato rating of the three movies at 97%.  I’m guessing they got the youth vote.  Next was Non-Fiction at 89%, followed by Late Night at 79%.  Personally, I give them all two thumbs up.  They provided a much-needed break from the current chaos of my life.  Even with all that’s available on your TV at home and no matter how big your TV is, I don’t think people will ever give up the occasional trip to the movie theater. As I read somewhere, people still go to restaurants even though they have a kitchen in their home.

C’est la vie.

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