There is something so mundane yet fantastical about sitting down to a summertime movie blockbuster. In my mind, there is a certain indulgence in eschewing a ripe, golden, blooming midsummer’s day to sequester myself in the icy blast and dimness of a theater. I’m not talking about an indie film at my favorite art house — the most satisfying blockbuster moments to me are achieved in utter banality and anonymity, in a mall, with a giant diet Coke and popcorn smothered in coconut oil.
(The drive-in is, of course, exempt since it embodies an abject gloriousness nothing in life can compare to.)
(Hyperbole, I don’t care, I LOVE the drive-in.)
The actual movie is almost a non-issue. They change every year, gliding before our eyes in a neverending array of colors, actors, explosions, accents, stories. Sometimes they are films I actually respect and would call back if given the choice (or at least send a follow-up text). Others are more a vehicle for the experience; any flick will do if I’m in the mood.
That’s why my love for the local independent theater, the one with the quality offerings I am usually chomping at the bit to experience, lies dormant in my heart come June. I don’t want to think; I don’t want to wander home, moved to deep thought or tears best experienced on a grey November day; I don’t want to follow up the experience with artisan cheesecake and interesting conversation. These pursuits are quintessentially…me, but somehow they get shelved. I want to follow my id. I want to fucking sit there and enjoy a shallow pleasure, something I can’t seem to let myself do with frequency.
Where this affection came from, I am unsure, though no doubt it stems from some vague, distant suburban childhood innocence and happiness. If I had grown up elsewhere, I might turn to picnicking on the beach, or barbecues, or camping to recreate the same deep pleasure. I enjoy these activities immensely, but not in the same way, not enough to let myself fall down some tunnel into a feeling I hold onto so tightly I assign activities to conjure it.
It’s easier to pay ten bucks and spend a couple of hours in any easily accessed theater than be twelve years old again, sipping iced tea on a pool deck long torn down, turning the waterlogged pages of the latest Agatha Christie found in the used bookstore down the street. Every September the excitement of the coming fall fades a little more, every December Christmas seems more like a chore. These revelations force me to believe in the queer power of ritual, and I wonder if I’ll keep trying to feel like I did one day twenty years ago, or if in twenty years I’ll try and recapture how I feel today.
(Herein lies the rub: I just spent all this time and effort over-analyzing something until I figured out that I like it because I don’t over-analyze it.)