I didn't get the UGC Illimité card right away. My natural tendency is to distrust deals that seem too good to be true. I did a good job of convincing myself it wasn't worth the 98 francs a month (about $13.50) with the reasoning "I'd have to see at least 3 movies a month at the same theater chain in order to save any money with the deal." Finally, though, I had to accept the truth staring me in the face: there's no limit. It's not a question of how many movies I'd have to see for the card to be of value - the question is: how many movies am I physically able to see in a month? After the first two...they're all free.
So now it's all I can do to avoid living my entire life at the UGC Cine Cite 20 screen multiplex conveniently located in the middle of town. Talk about artists not getting paid (see my Napster rant), if I see 20 movies a month, that's a piddling 68 cents a movie (and we're talking new movies here, on big screens) to be split between the theater and everyone involved in creating and distributing the film. If that isn't a steal, I don't know what is. Who needs TV? All of a sudden, my quality of life has increased exponentially. Hell, anytime I want I can walk out my front door, get into a metro and let someone else drive me to the movies whilst I look up the showtimes. In fact, I don't even own a TV. When it comes to movies, I'm a purist. I don't believe you can honestly say you've seen a movie unless you've seen it on the big screen, in all its glory, as it was meant to be seen. And now there's nothing stopping me.
Armed with no self-control whatsoever, and always one to push good things past all reasonable limits, I decided I would try to see as many different first-run movies as I possibly could in one day. How to do it: limit yourself to the shortest movies, start at 9:00 a.m. and leave the theater around 12:30 a.m. Here's a brief run-down of the movies I saw:
Les fantomes de Louba - Good movie with a great climactic scene at the end. A good start for the day. Breakfasted on popcorn, peanut m&m's and coke. I was forced to get the large popcorn because the medium was more expensive! Oh well, one must suffer for one's art. Did you ever notice that there aren't hardly any regular m&m's anywhere in Paris? What's up with that? I see it in boxes occassionally, but never in the movie theater.
Le cercle - Louba was more than an hour and a half, so it was a run to the next movie. Since I thought I might miss a little of the beginning, I decided to see Le cercle next because I had seen it before (although I must admit I fell asleep in the middle the first time I went). I got into the movie this time while the screen was still black, during the intro screaming. This is an important film, increasing the public's awareness of how poorly women are treated in Iran.
Endiable (Bedazzled) - Oh, got a little tired again during the last one but now I'm ready for a good ol' american movie! (the only one of the day). It is a good movie, but a little too much like Groundhog Day. I guess there's only so many ways Harold Ramis can tell us to stop being selfish jerks.
Adieu Babylone - I notice while getting my ticket that one of the films I need to see (Barnie et ses petites contrariétés) has been selling out. If I can't get into Barnie, my goal of 8 movies is threatened. Adieu is a rather cool film with a good soundtrack and some nice scenes of the Americas. Babylone is slang for Paris, I guess, but I won't be saying goodbye as long as movies are this cheap here.
Le Placard - A genuinely funny movie and the women are all sexy (which is ironic considering the subject matter of a man pretending to be gay so he doesn't get fired). I ate a cheddar sandwich during this one which wasn't bad, but there was something strange about the sauce. My mouth felt all funny as I laughed out loud during the movie.
Te Quiero - Not much dialog in this one, just scenes in Lima, Peru of two lovers expressing their desire for one another by having sex (which wouldn't be so bad if the sex wasn't interspersed with unbearable stretches of tedious, poorly lit filler of absolutely no interest whatsoever). Now I'm genuinely worried about getting into Barnie so I ditch the end of this stinker to buy a ticket to Barnie. I've seen Te Quiero before, so missing the last part isn't such a big deal. I know I probably shouldn't admit that I've seen this movie twice, but I did miss a little bit of the beginning the first time I went to see it.
Barnie et ses petites contrariétiés - After all that wrangling to get a ticket, this one is disappointing, surely. A clever humorous situation is not enough; a director must know how to finish it. This is not a bad film at all, but for me a movie has to end well to make it all worthwhile. Otherwise there's a feeling that you've wasted your time on something the director never really had a firm grasp of.
La verite si je mens 2 - Last but not least (that was Te Quiero!). An enjoyable movie, but lightweight. It could have easily been on TV, just your basic very generic family-type entertainment. It is entertaining, though, and the James Bond-type opening is cool. All in all, not a bad way to end the day.
Whew! The day is over and I'm not tired! Overall a good crop of movies. I don't think I'll be doing this again, however. Movies are to be savored and reflected upon individually, not all lumped together en masse. In other words, if you need to see eight movies...try to at least spread them out over a week.