one year ago today …

One year ago today, my now-husband and I went to the movies. We do that sometimes, just for fun. Here’s the ticket stub (although Alamo’s receipts aren’t all that ticket-like):
The Aristocrats
We’d been waiting a long time to see The Aristocrats — I wanted to see it at SXSW in March, but knew there was little chance I’d get into the midnight screening and didn’t even try. Then it took forever for the movie to reach Austin, and I think we actually waited a week or so longer after its release until it got to Alamo Drafthouse, because we prefer seeing movies there. And on August 27, I was feeling a little nervous and thought I could use a distraction.

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Quinceanera (2006)

Quinceanera: 2006, dir. Richard Glatzer and Wash Westmoreland. Seen at Barton Creek Cinemark (press screening).
Quinceanera was a nice little film, but I expected something more memorable from a movie that was so highly praised at Sundance. I know many people who would expect anything that won an award at Sundance these days to automatically be unexceptional, but I was optimistic. The week before, I had reviewed the formulaic teen dance film Step Up, and it was surprising to find Quinceanera nearly as full of cliches, stereotypes, and predictable plot twists. Fortunately, the characters are so engaging that they help overcome the more mundane aspects of the familiar coming-of-age storyline.
The film focuses on Magdalena (Emily Rios), who is preparing for her quinceanera, the big party surrounding a girl’s 15th birthday, and dealing with a variety of emotions. Sometimes she wishes she didn’t have to be feted, but at the same time she wants the accoutrements her wealthy cousin enjoyed at her party: a new dress instead of a hand-me-down, and a Hummer limo to carry her and her friends to the party. In the middle of all this, Magdalena unexpectedly finds herself pregnant … without having had sex. Her father, a preacher, refuses to believe her and Magdalena moves in with her great-uncle Tio Tomas (Chalo Gonzalez), who has already taken in another family black sheep, Magdalena’s gay cousin Carlos (Jesse Garcia). Carlos and Magdalena both try to determine who they are, what they want, and how they should prepare for the future.

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Scoop (2006)

Scoop: 2006, dir. Woody Allen. Seen at Arbor Great Hills.
I made a solemn vow about two years ago, after seeing Sweet and Lowdown on DVD, never to watch a post-Bullets over Broadway Woody Allen movie again. (Read the last paragraph of the above-linked review for the exact wording of the vow.) I was tempted by Match Point, because so many people who’d given up on Allen were praising the film to the skies. I was tempted recently by an ebullient review I read of Curse of the Jade Scorpion. But I still felt skeptical.
I broke my vow last weekend, to see Scoop … mainly because my husband wanted to go. He doesn’t like Woody Allen movies much, and I was so surprised by the role reversal (three years ago, I would have been urging him to go) that I felt I ought to acquiesce. I’m not entirely sure why he wanted to go — it was the least annoying comedy in theaters, he likes Scarlett Johansson, he read some good reviews — but off we went.
Scoop was a charming afternoon’s diversion — another entry in the genre I’ve discovered this year that I call “the smart person’s dumb comedy.” Light comedy might be a more appropriate term. I came up with the term after we saw Thank You for Smoking and Art School Confidential, both flawed comedies that were not as clever as they wanted to be (or as I wanted them to be), but entertaining fluff that didn’t rely on bodily-function jokes, offensive stereotyping, or the Wilson brothers.

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