July 12, 2008

Comparative Review: Several Films Iâve Never Seen the End of Due to Falling Asleep

My excitement for next weekâs midnight early-release showing of The Dark Knight is somewhat dampened by what happened Thursday night at the midnight showing of Hellboy II. Toward the end of a long, long week, and knowing full fucking well that I needed to get up and teach the next morning, I went with my housemates to the 12:01 AM showing of the new Hellboy movie, which Iâve been all excited about seeing.

Of course, my eyes were already closing before we got through the 18 minutes (!) of previews.

It is bad form to fall asleep during a hotly anticipated film. It is even worse form to do so in the theater, surrounded by people who are actively engaged, laughing and shouting things at the screen. There is, however, a delicate protocol which will help you and those around you save face should you find yourself falling asleep:

Begin by assuming a casually âcomfortableâ posture. Slouch into your seat, legs braced against the seat in front of you. Cross your arms so that, should you actually fall asleep and lose muscle control, your arms will not fall into your neighborsâ laps and give either the impression that you are sleeping or that you are making clumsy and untoward sexual advances. Tilt your head back and stare at the screen through half-closed eyes. This makes it harder for your neighbors to ascertain when you have actually closed your eyes completely.

Next, the most important part: facial control. Assume an expression of calm, somewhat superior appreciation. A half-smile would be too much here; a quarter-smile will do. Maintain this expression even while asleep. This will give your neighbors the impression that you are deeply engaged in the movie, and they will forbear from commenting to you or asking you whether you are liking it. Should they eventually puncture your sleep with a comment, or should laughter or other noises from the theater momentarily wake you, take this as an opportunity to open one eye, register quickly what is happening onscreen, and respond cautiously. DO NOT ATTEMPT actual words; instead, issue the following laugh:


Resume sleep. If you can, try to resist the deep, even breathing of the sleeping person, which will be instantly detected. Breathe instead in irregular sniffs. Inhale as though you have the sniffles or as though you are filing something away for future thought. Exhale with derision, as though you find something amusing, but not amusing enough for a real laugh. Lastly, be sure to wake up as soon as the end credits begin. Issue the laugh again, preparing your vocal cords for the coup de grÃce: you must turn to your neighbor before he turns to you, and you must smile brightly and chirp, âWasnât that great?â He, who has actually resisted the pull of sleep, will be tired and slow to respond; this buys you time to stretch, yawn, find your shoes, and prepare to shuffle out of the theater.

Clearly, I have done this a lot. Itâs not that I donât like movies; I LOVE movies, which is probably why I spend a lot of time watching them when I should probably be home in bed. The problem is mainly that I am perennially overtired, and that I do not often get to sit down after 9 PM in a comfy chair for purposes other than doing work. When it does happen, my body naively assumes that Iâve decided to go easy on it and let it get some sleep. I realized dreamily the other night, staring at the screen through half-lidded eyes, that there are a lot of movies Iâve simply never seen the end of (or, in many cases, the middle) and consequently have only the vaguest idea of what theyâre actually about. Here follows a partial list that occurred to me between sniffs and snorts.

I assure you that there can be no spoilers whatsoever in the following list.

Hellboy II: The Golden Army. âSeenâ in theater Thursday night.
What it appears to be about: Selma Blair has some stomach trouble. Hellboy and Abe Sapien drink several six-packs of Tecate. There are tooth fairies that look exactly like creatures that director Guillermo del Toro may have had left over from his work on Panâs Labyrinth. There are also a super-Goth, beautiful, blond brother and sister who are best friends and read Tennyson to each other. Hellboy, or possibly someone else, gets stabbed with a spear.
Remaining mysteries: Most of the content of the movie.

Trainspotting. One of the most celebrated movies of my college years; âseenâ in a late-night showing in Wheeler Auditorium on campus.
What it appears to be about: Ewan McGregor and some friends have fun on heroin. They get up to a lot of highjinks like toilet diving and staging a puppet show with a baby doll crawling across the ceiling.
Remaining mysteries: The title of the movie; is there a train? When will they ever show the dark side of heroin addiction?

Star Trek: The Motion Picture. âSeenâ in living room of friendâs house during college.
What it appears to be about: A giant, malevolent entity heads toward Earth. The Enterprise would be the ideal ship to stop it, but the shipâs undergoing repairs and the crew is all scattered. Earth will be destroyed, foreclosing the possibility of future Star Trek TV series or movies.
Remaining mysteries: Then how did we get 4 more TV series and Star Trek movies II through X?

Pulp Fiction. One of the most celebrated movies of my high school/college years. âSeenâ in a theater in LA.
What it appears to be about: Uma Thurman lies on a bed reading a novel. Sorry, thatâs from the movie poster, which is the only thing I stayed awake for.
Remaining mysteries: What do the French call a Filet-O-Fish sandwich? Le Filet-D-Poisson?

2000 elections. âSeenâ on internet and TV from work, from bar, from my couch, and finally from my living room floor.
What they appeared to be about: Al Gore became the 43rd president.
Remaining mysteries: What the hell happened between 2 and 6 AM while I was asleep?

Groundhog Day. Apparently one of the funniest movies ever made; âseenâ on DVD from my comfy chair.
What it appears to be about: Bill Murray, a poor overworked weatherman stuck doing a stupid story about groundhogs, has a crappy day on February 2 in a podunk town in Pennsylvania.
Remaining mysteries: After he gets a good nightâs sleep, does he wake up to a better day on February 3? One certainly hopes so.

As a lifelong Batman fanatic, I am terribly excited for The Dark Knight. Specifically, I am excited about getting out of class on Friday, well-rested from my sleep in the theater the night before, and sneaking off to a matinee to re-watch the movie and figure out what happens before I have to talk to anyone about it.

Posted by katie at July 12, 2008 11:34 AM

Don't forget this one:

2004 elections. âSeenâ on internet and TV from living room, kitchen of our old "rich house," as well as your bedroom and my bedroom of said house. Remember, I was cleaning up my room for my parents' visit? You were chatting on the bed?

What they appeared to be about: Repetition compulsion.

Remaining mysteries: Really, we did this again?

Posted by: DelightfulFormerHousemate at July 12, 2008 03:59 PM

Hear! Hear! I myself once sat down with some friends to watch The Two Towers on a gargantuan widescreen TV and then proceeded to sleep peacefully through the epic Battle of Helms Deep.

I'd also like to point out -- in re: the presumably fascinating ending of Adaptation and most of Pirates of the Caribbean II -- that one of the effects of falling asleep partway through a movie is being sleepy and confused for a while before actually nodding off, and therefore having to find not just the point where you stopped watching but also the point where you stopped understanding if you ever want to try to fill in the missed part. In pretty much all cases it turns out that I need to start from the beginning again, which, when I think about it, doesn't speak well for my movie-comprehending skills in general.

Posted by: Dianna at July 14, 2008 01:48 PM