True Grit (2010)
seen @ Green Acres Cinemas, Valley Stream, NY
What's so great about snow? Every year, I always see people saying something about how wonderful it is when it snows. Well, I'm here to tell you that snow ain't so great. Oh, sure, it's nice to watch come down, as I did all day and night on Sunday (the 26th), from inside the comfort of my apartment... but sooner or later you have to go out into it. And that's when the problems start.
When the wind blows snow around, it gets in your face and your eyes, making it tough to see. When it hardens on the ground, it makes walking slippery and treacherous. When it swallows your car (if you have one), you have to not only dig it out, you have to clear a path so you can drive it out. Snow gets in your shoes (if you're not wearing boots). If the sidewalks haven't been plowed, you have to either trudge through piles of it or take your chances on the sides of the street, where cars are going by. And not to state the obvious, but when snow falls, it's always cold!
The ability to make snowmen is not a fair trade-off, as far as I'm concerned.
I knew I had to see True Grit on a Tuesday, because that's the six dollar day at the Green Acres theater; all shows are six bucks all day. I had hoped that enough time had passed so that I'd be able to go, what with the weather and all. Once again, I got a late start, but I still thought I could make it on time, since it's a bus ride away. Ten minutes into waiting for the bus, though, and I knew I'd have a long wait. Plus, there was a huge snow barricade in front of the bus stop where the plows had been, so if the bus arrived, I'd have to climb over it in order to reach the front door, and since it was soft, I'd sink into it and the snow would get into my shoes and blah blah blah.
So I walked to a bus stop on a different line that would also take me to the theater. It was normally about a fifteen-minute walk, but all the snow made it more of an adventure than usual. I got there and waited out in the street as cars slowly went by. This is a busier street than the one I came from, so there was more traffic. A guy behind me was talking on his cell to his job, telling his boss that he had to wait over an hour for his bus. My bus wasn't forthcoming, either. I knew I'd have to catch the next show.
Eventually I settled on taking a commuter van. I'm not sure if other cities have these or not: they're privately-owned vans that serve like buses, operating on certain bus lines in the outer boroughs of New York. They comfortably seat about ten passengers, a dozen in a pinch. Almost all of them are run by Caribbeans or African-Americans or even Africans. They used to cost only a dollar, which was certainly a bargain in comparison with the city buses and trains, but when the city fares went up, so did the vans. They now charge two dollars, but the city base fare is now $2.25, so it's much less of a bargain. Still, they take dollar bills and they even provide change from big bills if you need it.
I never take them unless I need to, and yesterday I remembered why. The driver was on his cell when I got on board, which is bad enough in normal weather. At one point there was a car sticking out into the street at an angle - the owner probably was stuck in the snow and backed his car in like that to circumvent all the mounds of snow - and the van driver came thisclose to hitting the car. He slowed down, but not nearly enough, it seemed; I honestly thought there would be a collision. When I indicated where I wanted to get off, he started yakking at me (I think; it didn't seem directed at me) in a thick Caribbean patois that I could not make out to save my life. It sounded like he was complaining about something, even though the spot I indicated was definitely a bus stop. Don't know and don't care. Truth is, I got out earlier than I should have and walked the extra few blocks just so I could get out of the van.
The Green Acres is part of the Green Acres Mall, which is on an eight-lane highway, and the sidewalk hadn't been consistently paved, so that meant more trudging through snow piles. Then I had to navigate my way through the humongous, slush-filled parking lot into the mall proper. (The next time I write about the Green Acres theater, I'm gonna talk about how difficult it is for a pedestrian to walk through the parking lot, because there's a really good rant there.) I had lunch and read a little as I waited for the next show to start, and eventually made my way back to the theater.
At the box office, the lady there (who was speaking through a very loud microphone) made some spiel about whether I wanted to donate to some charity. I'd get a pin for my donation, so I gave a buck, but then she tells me I have to give two dollars. I'm like, what? I didn't even want the pin; isn't it enough that I'm giving a donation without you telling me I have to give a specific amount? She was like, "Well, you don't have to give anything. Don't look at me like that!" But you were the one who insisted I donate in the first place - and when I did, you said it wasn't enough! Arrgh... I let it go and went inside.
True Grit was playing upstairs, which was conveniently devoid of staff people, so since I had a few extra minutes, I did something I haven't done in a long time: I snuck into another theater. I stepped inside the auditorium showing Tangled, the new Disney animated movie. It looked decent. It was easy to think this was a Pixar or DreamWorks movie until the characters started singing. There was a time, not too long ago, when I'd be totally pumped up to see a Disney animated movie, but these days, I have to admit, Pixar has spoiled me.
I left Tangled and went into the right auditorium and finally saw True Grit. It was good. The utterly formal-to-the-point-of-being-stilted language the characters speak in was off-putting at first, until I realized that most, if not all of the Coen Brothers' movies are distinguished by their characters' dialects, from Raising Arizona and The Hudsucker Proxy and Fargo to O Brother Where Art Thou and A Serious Man, subject to the times and places these films take place in. In that respect, True Grit is no different. Of course, I'm not sure if that excuses Jeff Bridges, who talked like he had marbles in his mouth the whole time.
I took the van back home, and this time it was much less eventful. There were more buses on the roads by this time, but from what I could see they were either in the other direction or were out of service. On the way to the theater I saw a couple of buses that were stuck in the snow, if you can believe that. Word as of this writing is that buses and trains should come close to normal service by tonight. We'll see.