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Shutdown Movie-Thon (Week One!)

Reader Takeover Day! The Reader Spotlight is coming back soon but as a special triple treat a few posts over the next 24 hours written by you, the reader. (Well, not you literally). Here is Lynn Lee -- previously reader spotlighted so you'll want to check that out -- who is currently on a tv/movie binge while on furlough.- Nathaniel

 Lynn here, taking Nathaniel up on his kind invitation to recount the...

"Filmgoing Adventures of a Furloughed Federal Employee"

There's no question the ongoing federal government shutdown is a disaster for this country, and it's affected federal workers more directly than most. A good chunk of us, including yours truly, have been indefinitely furloughed. Those who think this just means extra vacation time clearly don't understand that (1) most of us *want* to be at work, but it's against the law for us to work and (2) we currently aren't getting paid! There's not much we can do, though, other than find ways to pass the time.

For those of us more fortunate furloughed feds who aren't dealing with more pressing concerns, the main question each morning has been "What do I do today?"

In my case, the default answer is a no-brainer: go to the movies!  These past couple of weeks I’ve trekked to movie theaters of all sizes and stripes all over the D.C. area, and seen some of the best films I’ve seen all year—at least two of which I’d have missed otherwise.  So for me there’s definitely been a bright side to my forced idleness.

DAY 1: The only day of the shutdown I was “excepted,” i.e., required to work, so no movies for me today.  Unless you count the imaginary reenactment of Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, with me in the Jimmy Stewart role, playing in my mind.  Not that an epic filibuster would do anyone any good in the current situation.

DAY 2: My first furlough day!  What better way to spend it than to watch Thor race cars against Frederik Zoller?  I head out to my favorite movie theater in northern Virginia to see Rush, Ron Howard’s flick about the 1970s rivalry between two Formula One drivers, British daredevil James Hunt and hyper-focused Austrian Niki Lauda.  Solid entertainment, and Chris Hemsworth and Daniel Brühl are good foils, even if the script overplays the contrast between Hunt’s impulsive, hedonistic recklessness and Lauda’s relentlessly austere, Germanic precision.  Best line of the movie, from Lauda:

Happiness is the enemy.” 

Oh those Austrians. 

DAYS 3-4: No movies, but a discussion with my boyfriend about whether to see Gravity in 2D or 3D.  Although I normally hate 3D, this seems to be one of the few movies that really should be seen that way.  But boyfriend hates putting on those clunky 3D glasses over his glasses, so I do not insist – especially since I’m skeptical that any movie “needs” to be seen in 3D.  This decision will come back to haunt me in the days to come…

DAY 5: …though not on the day we actually see Gravity, which is still beautiful and harrowing and impressive in 2D.  Not quite transcendent; I find the score a bit overbearing, and can’t help wondering if George Clooney would be so cool and humorous under pressure in real life.  Probably not under that kind of pressure, I decide; Sandra Bullock, on the other hand, reacted more like I’d expect Sandra Bullock would.  Also decide that I would never under any circumstances want to be an astronaut.  But I already knew that since childhood, when everyone but me wanted to go to Space Camp.    

DAYS 6-7: No movies in theaters, though I discover that everyone in the world has apparently seen Gravity, too – and seen it in 3D.  And people are raving about how “immersive” it was!  I begin to worry that I’ve made a terrible mistake.  


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Reader Comments (3)

@Lynn: I haven't even read this yet, but you look amazing. Love the hair! Saw N.Rapold in a coffee shop in Toronto. We should go for the whole reunion next year. x

October 15, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterNick Davis

isn't it crazy how that gets you second guessing when people rave about a movie that you only liked? at first i had this experience with Gravity as well. Not because i didn't see it in 3D but because I saw it in Imax but not not IMAX 3D. Slippery slope. I mean I always think you should see movies on the screen but i also think if they don't hold up on home video it's a problem.

October 15, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterNATHANIEL R

I tend to not watch well in 3-D and those glasses have a weirdly narcoleptic effect on me, but I will say that Gravity was one of the only times where I understood the effect's use and what an immersive experience it can engender, and it really made the movie all the more compelling.

October 16, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMatthew Eng

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