Tuesday, December 28, 2010
Living in Film Fear: The Laura Amoriello Story
One of the hardest things is sharing a beloved movie with friends and loved ones. It's almost always a losing situation. Author/blogger Drew Magary summed it up perfectly: There's no way the person you're trying to convert will feel the same way, and then you feel like a complete moron.
Sometimes the damage is irreparable: My parents still haven't forgiven me for recommending "Bring it On." (Note to mom and dad: It's time for you to get over this. I was 22 and Eliza Dushku was sizzling hot. I got snookered. Sue me.)
It has to be twice as aggravating to lobby for a movie when you're living with a movie critic, and that's the situation my fiancee, Laura Amoriello, found herself in recently. One of her favorite movies is "White Christmas," which I had never seen.
Before Laura goes on her spiel, I will say this. I didn't hate "White Chrismtas." It just wasn't my cup of tea. I'd say more, but it's time for Laura to take over.
I just love the holidays, and this year’s Thanksgiving was a perfect start. We settled in to watch the parade after breakfast, cozy-ing up on the couch as the snow fell. Pete might (bitterly) describe it as scene from a Nancy Meyers film, but I was in heaven. Upon returning from dinner with the family, Pete suggested we watch “White Christmas,” a favorite movie of my childhood. A red letter day! I couldn’t wait to watch this movie with Pete, and I was confident it would be added to his my-movie-collection-is-better-because-we-moved-in-together list.
I was wrong.
Being together has taught me many things about watching movies with a film critic: Do not talk. Do not ask questions, either about the film itself or his impression of it. The syrupy “Do you like it, honey?” and the mom-like “Are all those f-words really necessary?” are forbidden, along, of course, with “What is happening?/What is she doing?/Who is that?,” etc. Arriving late, purchasing expensive concessions, sitting too close, and watching holiday movies prior to the season are no-no’s. Of all these battles, I’ve chosen to fight only the latter, which meant I had to keep quiet during this viewing.
On the other hand, the critic may offer as generous an array of sarcastic comments during the film as he deems necessary. “Sack of garbage” and “Unbel-IEV-able!” are common, along with a variety of colorful expletives. Exasperated sighs must be executed at the end of each scene for survival purposes. Copious note-taking is fair warning that this review will be low on stars. And no matter how bad it gets, he will never, EVER hit the power button or exit the theater early.
So, I knew something was up when the polite smiles began.
During a particular dance sequence involving Danny Kaye frolicking against a very fake-looking tropical backdrop (oh, why didn’t I see the storm coming?!), I snuck a sideways glance at Pete. His face was frozen in his don’t-want-to-hurt-your-feelings look: stiff, polite smile, eyebrows slightly raised. He is too kind for criticism when he knows I love something, but his reaction was clear: He hated it.
I knew it was stupid, but I was disappointed Pete didn’t like the movie. Of course he was entitled to his own reaction, but, irrationally, I wanted so badly for Pete to like it as much as I did. I thought if he did, he’d share my childhood joy. I had to remember that my memories were not his, and that his reaction was not an insult to them. I had to simply remember that we would not always love the same things.
Combining movie collections reminded me that our tastes will occasionally clash, and that this is what makes our adventures—moving in together, getting married, deciding what to watch on Saturday night—well, ours. I’ll watch “Love Actually” in July, he won’t. He adores “Pulp Fiction,” I can’t stomach it. What’s good or bad is for the viewer to decide. We won’t always agree, but thankfully, we’ll give each other space to react. Unconditional acceptance is this year’s present, and it’s one we’ll re-gift. I just hope I can sneak one more “White Christmas” viewing before Pete deems the season closed.