Letter From Milo: Movie Man

July 9th, 2018

I’ve lost interest in the movies over the years. I don’t go as often as I used to and when I do plop down ten or more bucks for a movie I always lament the fact that I could have bought a good paperback for less.

There are several reasons for my lack of interest, but I suppose the two main reasons are the actors and special effects. The biggest male stars in cinema today, in my opinion, are little more grown-up child stars, pretty boys who lack the necessary gravitas to carry off some of the roles they play. Actors like Tom Cruise, Brad Pitt, Matt Damon, etc. seem to have stepped off the pages of Seventeen magazine and onto the big screen, without having lived any sort of life other than in front of the camera. Their faces don’t betray any signs that life has been anything other than sweet to them.

I don’t mean to seem like a curmudgeon, but when I think about actors like Humphrey Bogart, Spencer Tracy, or Clark Gable, I think of faces that reflect the realities of life. I can imagine sharing a foxhole with Bogart, working on an assembly line with Tracy, or having a shot and beer with Gable. The only thing I can imagine doing with Brad Pitt is asking if he would care to swap wives for the weekend.

Special effects have also ruined the movies for me. Everything seems to be done by animation, computerized wizardry, or some other devilish technology. Car chases, bombs blasts, entire cities destroyed by meteors, terrorists, or aliens from distant galaxies, are all generated by coffee-fueled geeks sitting in front of computer monitors. I don’t even know why they use actors anymore. As for stunt men, they’re a dying breed, spending more time in unemployment line than in front of movie cameras.

That said, my wife and I are preparing to go to an Oscar party tonight at Simon and Beth‘s house. It’s an annual affair with plenty of great food, an overabundance of alcohol and good company. As much as I grouse about going to this party, I actually enjoy attending. I don’t get out as often as I used to and this party is a chance to socialize, renew acquaintances, and make new ones.

The only thing I don’t like about the party is that there is a mandatory Oscar pool. Everyone puts in five bucks and fills out a form picking the winners in a dozen categories. The person who picks the most winners collects all the money. I’ve never even come close to winning and I don’t expect to do any better this year. I’ve only seen one of the nominated films and wasn’t impressed with it. I can’t even remember who was in it, what it was about, or whether it was in black and white or color.

As we get ready ready to go to the party, my lovely wife and I have our traditional pre-party discussion.

“Do me a favor, don’t drink too much tonight.”

“I’ll try to restrain myself.”

“Last year you got drunk and pinched Sarah on the ass.”

“I was hoping you’d forgotten that.”

“And don’t tell any of your dirty jokes, either.”

“Some people enjoy them.”

“Just you and Steve, and that’s because he’s usually drunk, too. Everybody else is just grossed out.”

“Jeez, why don’t I just stay home?”

One last thing, don’t start any arguments, please.”

“When did I start an argument?”

“Last year and the year before.”

“God, you’ve got a hellacious memory.”

“And stay away from that slut, Sarah.”

“Anything you say dear.”

What surprises me is how seriously some of the people at the party take the Oscars. The immortal wit, Oscar Levant, once said that ballet is like baseball for fairies. The same can be said for the Oscars. It’s like the Super Bowl for cinemaphiles. God forbid I make some remark, which I probably will, denigrating the occasion. I’ll get ugly looks from half the people in the room and insults from the other half, which will not bother me in the least. I enjoy provoking people.

Still, I have to be careful. If I get completely out of line or offend too many people I might not get invited back to the party next year. And, as I mentioned earlier, I don’t get out as often as I used to. I’d hate to cross Simon and Beth’s Oscar party off my social calendar.

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