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Million Dollar Movies

Since discovering Netflix some months ago, I’ve simply become a movie hermit. I just don’t want to watch movies with anybody. I want to watch them on my laptop. In my study. By myself. That way I don’t have to discuss with anybody what movie we’ll choose or discuss what movie we’ve chosen after we’ve watched it.

This means I have recently watched Suspiria—or mostly listened to it—Kandahar, and a perpetual favorite, La Ceremonie without having to compare notes.

But the fact remains that movie viewing is, essentially, a social pastime. And if you find yourself regularly watching movies with one person in particular and that particular person is of a different gender than you, it may happen that you encounter, from time to time The Chick-flick Conundrum.

Here’s how the Chick-flick Conundrum messes up otherwise perfectly friendly movie viewing.

For example, I like war movies. Particularly movies about World War II. I like French movies. The plot doesn’t matter—I’m just trying to see how much of the dialogue I can understand. I like black-and-white dramas and rom-coms of the ’30s, ’40s and ’50s. I’d watch Cary Grant do anything. I can’t get enough of Julie Christie in Don’t Look Now. I like scary movies, mystery movies, thrillers.

I’m not much into gangsters, westerns or fantasies, though I last winter I watched the entire Lord of the Rings trilogy with my youngest daughter over the course of three sedentary days. I have, ever since, both nursed a mighty crush on Viggo Mortensen and tried to be as good-hearted a human as Legolas was an Elf.

Still, it’s assumed that, since I have ovaries, the kind of movies I must really like are Chick Flicks. And hence we come to The Accidental Husband.

The Accidental Husband was a kind of desperate buy by my Movie Viewing Companion at a Blockbuster’s close-out—4 movies for only $20, with only three on the display rack that were really compelling. I pointed out a couple of other possibilities that didn’t spark much interest and then suggested The Accidental Husband. The director had done something my MVC liked and it had Uma Thurman, whose charms, I figure, appeal to all men, though I don’t understand why.

I said, maybe it will be like The Proposal, which was, we had both agreed when we’d seen it, a funny romp of a movie.

And so later that evening, to my astonishment, my MVC suggested we watch The Accidental Husband. Now, our other choices were Tropic Thunder, Army of Shadows and The Lives of Others. But it seemed he preferred The Accidental Husband and, from a surfeit of politeness I said, sure, let’s watch it.

And we did. Most of it.

Our intermittent movie conversation went something like this.


MVC: “I’m going to miss the first few minutes. I have an email to send.”

Me: “You didn’t miss anything. It’s really pretty stupid. We can just turn it off.”

MVC: No, I want to see it. It’s supposed to be funny.

Me: “Can you hit ‘pause?’ I’m going to get another glass of wine.”

MVC: “I’m going to hit ‘pause’ and get another enchilada.”

Me: “We really don’t have to watch this.”

MVC: “Yeah, but it must be almost over. And you know, you like it, right?”

Me, annoyed: “Um, no. It’s stupid. And Uma Thurman can’t act, as far as I can tell.”

MVC: “Well, and look at Sam Shepherd. What a sell-out for him!”

Me: “Then why are we still watching it?”

WVC: “I thought you wanted to watch it. You wanted to buy it.”

Me: “I didn’t want to buy it. You didn’t want to buy Crazy Heart.”

WVC: “I thought you’d think Crazy Heart was sexist.”

Me: “What I wanted to buy was Date Night but I thought you’d think that was stupid.”

MVC: “You’re kidding, right? Tina Fey saved our nation from Sarah Palin!”

Me: “Can we just turn this off, please?”

And right before whatever certain happy ending was to follow, we did.

Now, I know the moral of this should be the importance of open communication in choosing films using I-statements and not making assumptions based on who is equipped with what reproductive organs. As it turns out my MVC doesn’t even like Uma Thurman, a laudable, but previously unknown fact.

But in the final analysis, what this experience proves to me is that Netflix is saving couples from bad movie nights and gender stereotyping. All you need is your laptop and your queue. And a quick kiss before you go your separate ways to watch the movies you really want to see.

—Jo Page

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