"Well, same time next week, boys. We've got to get a winner one of these days."
Ladies and gents, it's finally happened. It started over 7 years ago (2/21/2008) immediately following my move to the new apartment, and now it's finishing immediately before my heading off into the sunset. A grand total of 250 movie nights and something approaching (I'll count it at some point) 500 individual films. We've laughed, we've cried, we've mocked Matt for repeatedly burning the popcorn, we've chased cereal moths and had Bailey announce arrivals, we've braved snowstorms and heatwaves, we've screamed in agony at the "blame Casey" nights, we've groaned at the thematic pairings or the absurd "secret themes." We've watched commentary tracks, badly translated foreign films, cartoons twisted by context, fled headlong from anything Matt called an "art flick," and come to understand the genius of Nicholas Cage.
And here we are. At the conclusion. What more can be said? We've even already accomplished the ourobouros tail-eating on night #249 with a lazy replay of the first movie night, albeit palindromized. Appropriately enough (since most of my place is packed already) there's just the sweeping up and stacking of chairs left. As the great modern prophet once said "the seats are all empty/let the roadies take the stage."
But there is time for just one last hurrah. Yes, movie night may continue, though in a greatly changed form ("ask me about Mattflix!"), but it will be a different thing, with a different name and a different numbering. Yes, it's time for one last party, one last movie pairing. So crack open those reserve bottles, scrape the barrel for the last of the popcorn, and for God's sake help me clear out the last of the beer, because As you have guessed by now.... this is the end.
The Period: The World's End (109 minutes, 2013) The Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz crew complete their "Cornetto" trilogy (a British ice-cream treat that they didn't intend to tie the trilogy together, but it just sort of happened) with this oddly divisive piece. Simon Pegg plays a stubbornly retro burnout forever trying to relive the glory days of his youth, and hatches a plan to draft the old gang (including an especially recalcitrant Nick Frost) into returning to their old stomping grounds to complete a legendary pub crawl they'd failed at while in school. Pegg accomplishes the surprising feat of being highly charismatic while almost entirely unlikeable. The film is poignant, as it's an examination of nostalgia both from the hopeless devotee and those with an absolute abhorrence for backward-looking, but despite excellent craft and some pretty good humor, it's gotten extremely mixed reviews... that I've noticed fall entirely along a particular (and unusual) age bracket. I think the audience members beyond a certain age (33 or so) can understand the pathetic joke that Pegg is portraying. The old man at the party wearing band shirts 15 years out of date. The guy who never got a life and moved on to adulthood. The sleazy con-artist convinced that the mid-to-late 20's is the only age worth being and stubbornly refuses to leave it behind. All of this in contrast to his friends who've moved on, accepted that their garage band will never have a world tour, that they won't hit it rich in Vegas, that they're actually happy settling down to a wife and a boring job and relaxing on the weekend, instead of drinking themselves into an adolescent blackout and waking up next to a really awful mistake. It's easy to understand why the younger audience members might think this was a lackluster outing... it's practically a direct refutation of their self-important age group and obsessive devotion to whatever pop culture is making the rounds. (I won't go any further into the flick, for fear of spoiling it as it was spoiled for me.)
The Question Mark: This is The End (107 minutes, 2013) Ensuring that we go out with the "good movie/bad movie" standard firmly entrenched, we will end with this supposedly comedic offering from the stoner faction of the unholy trinity of "comedic Seth" (Seth McFarland, Seth Rogan, Seth Green). The setup is pure genius; what if the rapture happened, and no one in Hollywood knew what was going on because they were all terrible people who didn't deserve to go to heaven? Unfortunately, this potential is largely wasted, as the film spends most of its currency on "the odd couple, times three" with intermittent stoner humor. The main cast essentially play themselves, a group of spoiled, self-important, unfunny comedians trapped in a house and gradually driving one another to distraction through petty, selfish, or obsessive behavior. It relies for its humor on the audience being familiar with, and caring about these celebrity (??) comedians and the long list of friends they drafted into cameos. Add in a large helping of "we're not gay, but we keep ending up in gay situations" and spice with masturbation & rape jokes and you have a microcosm of why all modern comedy sucks. True, it's not a total loss. There are good moments, a few funny jokes, and almost inexplicable direct references to The Mist and Rosemary's Baby. But above all, it has a really awesome ending that may actually redeem the whole work.
WARNING: I fully expect this week's movie night to devolve into an impromptu going away party. Please?