Hooray for Hollywood

When my husband and I were courting, many moons ago, we used to go to the movies every Monday night without fail. The Cineplex nearest to where we lived offered some kind of Monday special that we took advantage of to see almost everything that came out, starting with “The Scent of a Woman.” Hooh-ah!

Nowadays we don’t go to the movies nearly as often, even though it’s easier to do so. Instead of driving 18 miles like we used to, we now have a multiplex 5 miles away that opened several years back.

But is it me, or did something happen to movies in the 24 years since Al Pacino’s blind tango? There’s so little I want to see.

Anything based on a comic book or videogame leaves me cold. I’d rather read a book than watch most action movies, and without a kid in the household, we don’t bother with computer animation (though “Moana” sure looks cute).

And of course, if we do miss something in the theater, we can easily catch up with it via Netflix, so long as we don’t mind waiting six months for the DVD to come out.

But this time of year, we get motivated again. As always, the best movies cascade into theaters during the period just before and just after Christmas—timed, apparently, to stay in the forefront of everyone’s minds in the run-up to awards season. We’ll be going to the movies fairly often for the next couple of months, a good distraction from the advent of winter.

We began over the weekend with “Rules Don’t Apply,” Warren Beatty’s movie about Howard Hughes. The aging star plays the aging, eccentric aeronautics mogul and Hollywood billionaire in a romantic comedy that’s essentially about business—an American theme if there ever was one.

We were underwhelmed; I expected better from the man behind “Reds” and “Bulworth.” But I won’t be surprised if Beatty nabs an Academy Award nomination for best actor. Oscar judges seem to love on-screen depictions of mental illness, and Beatty’s Hughes is as oddball as they come.

At dinner afterward, people at the next table were raving about “Arrival,” a film about an alien landing. I generally don’t like sci-fi, but this one, focusing on a linguist’s attempts to communicate with the extraterrestrials, intrigues me. It’s on our list.

We may also try to catch “Allied,” since I’m a sucker for movies set during World War II (though I don’t know, should I be boycotting Brad Pitt?).

The previews, meanwhile, offered peeks at some coming attractions that might be worth seeing, including “Jackie,” with Natalie Portman portraying Jacqueline Kennedy in the days after her husband’s assassination.

There were only three people in the theater besides us for “Rules Don’t Apply,” and we could hear sound effects from a noisier movie on the other side of the wall. Still, there’s nothing like going out and seeing a film on the big screen. Along with baseball, it’s one of the great American pastimes.

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