This will blow your minds, kids, so hang on. I lost most of my interest in Halloween around the age of 11, and here’s the kicker: That was normal. I had also long given up on the tooth fairy, etc. It was a childhood thing.
Of course, there were always adults who got into it, designed haunted houses and had spooky music and generally had a good time, but those were special people. Like the Christmas display people. They just like doing it.
These days, of course, all sorts of adults start looking ahead toward Halloween in August. I’ve seen pictures. Some are so-so, some are fantastic. One woman I knew in high school is an artist and goes all out, lots of cobwebs and spooky stuff.
I understand it, just don’t share it. As I understand that thrill at being scared. I just don’t want to be scared on purpose, even in a pretend way. I haven’t seen a film in the horror genre for decades and I assume I never will. Just don’t see the fun. You guys go have a good time.
Speaking of genres, one of my favorite kinds of films is the heist movie, like The Thomas Crown Affair (both versions) or, maybe my favorite, The Score. You know. Dodging the lasers, blowing the locks, tying up the security guards. Museum, bank, doesn’t matter: The details are the thing, and so that’s what I was thinking after seeing The Martian the other day. Finally.
I went by myself, never succeeding in finding a partner, and it was excellent, but it felt like a heist movie. Lots of detail and planning. Short on the human emotions and dramatic crises. Still excellent. Just a bit sterile.
And then I did swing a date with my wife, a few afternoons ago, and we watched The Intern. I like to watch Anne Hathaway and Robert DeNiro, so I figured that would cover the high spots, but I was surprised by the pleasure it provided. It was predictable but in a clever way, with movie situations that we see coming a mile away somehow sliding through the story without spikes on our sentimentality meters. It was just fun, sweet and funny, a complete distraction if not a film that provokes much conversation afterward.
This is a sign, I know. I don’t seem to want much provocation anymore. I don’t want mindless entertainment (although I still watch football), but I appreciate seeing a simple story unfold in a nice, pleasant way.
I cut these films so much slack that The Intern actually surprised me by its choices, almost all of which were mild and uneventful. DeNiro is maybe a little too nice, but it’s DeNiro; he can pull that off. His relationship with Hathaway feels appropriately awkward and then smoother, his friendship with the younger people seems believable (and funny), and his office romance with the Rene Russo character was charming because (1) these are charming actors, and (2) it was age appropriate. Not Hollywood age appropriate; Russo is 61 and DeNiro is 72. That feels appropriate.
And then it was over, and as I said, it didn’t spark much conversation, other than on the short ride home from the theater. Sometimes it’s enough to enjoy, then have it be over.
This would be, I finally figured out, the point.
The point about everything, mostly, I’ve been experiencing for the past couple of weeks. There was kind of a puny illness, but also just essential lethargy and a fair amount of irritation, and I’ll admit to some pride in getting better at figuring this stuff out quicker than I used to.
Since June 2012, there’s been an Unknown. Actually lots of them, but all neatly bundled into one capital letter-starting phenomenon. An Unknown. A film might be made, might not, might get finished, might get funded. Might not. Might be good. Might not.
And many, many mights, most of which I didn’t think about much. There were some surprises with Winning Dad, almost all of them positive, but it ended up about the way I’d expected.
But it ended.
That’s what I was doing, then. Marking the end of 3-1/2 years of thinking about possibilities by watching those possibilities work themselves out into a Seattle premiere, and now the end.
The end for me, I mean. And who knows? I’m talking about feelings, not the future. I have no clue about the future.
I just sort of surprised myself by grieving, a little, and then realizing that’s what I was doing. What I looked at as possibly an adventure turned into one, for sure, and my personal emotional stake rose a bit higher than I thought it would, but really?
It was just 3-1/2 years, full of lots of other events but with Winning Dad always lurking, always heading somewhere else, always bubbling with possibility.
I’ve tried to push the excitement down the road, but I can’t. I considered taking a copy to Phoenix, where so many of my former theater colleagues still live, many of them still acting and directing, and having a little screening party, but the details were difficult and it started to feel a little too much about me, anyway.
So it’s over, and my interest has faded and I’ve moved on, I guess. It’s a good film, positive and uplifting while not shying away from confronting what ugly notions bounce around in our brains, usually left alone. It’s not going to change the world. But it’s a good film, and if you want to qualify that with “for a first film” or “for a low-budget indie,” that’s fine. That’s what it is. If it were more, it would be more. It’s enough, though.
An article a few weeks ago sort of quoted me as saying I’d never act again. That’s probably not what I said, and in any case I’d be dumb to predict. I do, though, understand the odds and the situation, and the uniqueness of what I’ve experienced, so yeah. I got a little down for a bit, better now. And absolutely, I may never speak a line of dialog again. I may never play another part, create another role, memorize a single speech. I may never make another movie.
But I made one, once. Win win.