Kim and I have been on a movie jag lately.
I mean, the kind of movie jag where you pay lots of money to sit in a theater with strangers.
About a week or so ago, after falling for the very effective television promos for "Manchester by the Sea," which pretty much promised us would be the best movie ever in the last decade, we broke down and went to see it.
I try not to read too many Internet reviews about movies before I go to see them, mostly because I'm compelled, like an addiction, to read the spoiler alerts. It's kind of like somebody telling me how a story ends before I've finished reading (or seeing) it and I can't stop myself.
It's like "SPOILER ALERT!!! DON'T READ BEYOND THIS POINT!!!
And then I do. It's a dare I can't resist.
I do check Rotten Tomatoes, though, mostly to see if the movie is getting a high percentage of favorable reviews. That way I feel like I have a decent chance of not wasting my money on a bomb, no matter what Matt Damon says.
So we watched the movie. We had to go out of town — to High Point — to see it because the flick wasn't in any theater closer to us. I couldn't figure that one out.
We liked the movie well enough, but with qualifications. It's beautifully photographed. I loved the New England ambiance. The acting was superb. There will be Oscars.
But the storyline had me wanting to slit my wrists. It's not what I wanted to see over the Christmas holidays. Or ever. It's not the date night I had in mind for my wife and myself.
So then it was Kim's turn to choose.
A few days later, she said she found the movie she wanted to see. We were going to "La La Land."
Two movies within 10 days qualifies as a jag for us. It's rare that we do this.
So we went to The Grand 18 in Winston-Salem. It's probably been 10 years since I've seen a flick there (maybe longer), because we usually head to Tinseltown in Salisbury. But The Grand. Oh, my.
I walked up to the box office and told the attendant, without thinking, that I wanted tickets for "two seniors for 'La La Land.'" I think he smiled, probably thought that was the most truthful thing he'd heard all day.
We walked into the theater room that was showing the movie, and it was gigantic. The screen was bigger than our house. And when we picked our seats, they turned out to be naugahyde La-Z-Boy recliners. I'm not kidding.
"This is my theater from now on," said Kim as we literally settled in for the next couple hours.
I knew the flick was going to be a musical on the scale of something like the old Fred Astaire-Ginger Rogers productions back in Hollywood's heydays. The opening scene took place on a traffic-jammed Los Angeles freeway ramp, with hundreds of singers and dancers cavorting around their cars.
I was hooked. The movie had me from the start.
The two leads, doe-eyed and wholesome Emma Stone and wryly handsome Ryan Gosling, were astonishing. I later found out that Gosling learned to play jazz piano in six weeks for the movie, and that all the piano playing used in the film was actually his.
There is a Gosling-Stone soft-shoe dance number on a Los Angeles hilltop at sunset. It was filmed in one continuous take in six minutes. Because, you know, it was sunset. You can't tell the sun "Cut! Let's do that again."
We were well satisfied. There will be Oscars. When the movie was over, Kim had to pull me out of my recliner.
I'm hoping the jag continues. One of the previews was for a flick called "A Dog's Purpose," of which some of the teasers had me tearing up. Then I want to see "Hidden Figures," the true untold story of female African-American mathematicians who helped the NASA space program succeed. Octavia Spencer, who won an Oscar for her role in "The Help," is in this one. And then there's "Gifted," another Spencer movie about a child prodigy.
This could be a good year for date movies, and it's only January.