Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Maxing Your Movie Mojo

I caught the movie The Constant Gardener the other night. Quick synopsis: the English Patient, with the global pharmaceutical industry playing the role of the Nazis. Of course, my date wasn’t so cynical about the flick, as indicated by the sniffles coming from her as the credits rolled. Ah, yes. Venus and Mars go to the movies.

Gladiator? Sure, I cried. After wasting $12Given my passion for lists and statistics, the research department forwarded me the following rankings from a recent survey conducted by a British tabloid on which movies make men and women cry the most. Interesting list.

Finding the right date movie can be a challenge. What I learned early in my dating life is that “first date” movies can often be a make or break moment in determining whether I will get that future date. It somehow sets the tone going forward. I’ve also received a lot of unsolicited counseling from third parties on what movies I should pick for such occasions.

My friend, the consultant, has one particular rule: if you haven’t slept with them yet, don’t see a movie that has any sexually explicit scenes, the theory being that it will create too much tension during the date and unduly influence the expectation down the road if you do fall into bed together and start comparing your off-screen performance to what you watched onscreen. And as most of us know, the movies sure make sex a lot sexier then it can be some of the time.

In fact, a good rule of thumb is one should only see a movie that contains sexual scenes that are only slightly beyond what you and your prospect have done so far. Which means, if you haven’t even gotten to first base yet, avoid any flick where the nipple has somehow made an appearance in some supporting role.

I do have a problem with this guideline. First off, I think seeing some passion in a movie can move things along with the courtship. Otherwise, there is this risk of the potential relationship picking up “asexual stench” or AS -- the fast track to platonicland. I’ve seen friends in the AS rut. It starts off innocent enough with a few documentaries or maybe the occasional PG-13 comedy of some has-been Saturday Night Live alumnus. Somehow, the tone gets anchored. They’re in too deep, where neither one can suggest to the other anything more racy. It all ends at some IMAX theatre to the narrative of Buzz Aldrin explaining how the Space Station is the basis for man’s future in visiting Mars (as opposed to his future visiting Venus – if you get my drift).

I used to like Woody Allen movies for first dates. That was until he started sleeping with his daughter. Mind you, I still liked his movies, but noticed that he was a bit of a lightning rod for certain causes. Even suggesting one of his movies to some women implied I condoned his off-screen behaviour. It became too risky.

Getting back to sad movies, I tend to avoid those in early dates as well. I think most guys do, and not because they’re necessarily against the tearjerker – though most are – but because if the romance develops, we know, deep down, there’s going to be some emotional moments where we will be facing more tears from a woman than we can honestly handle. We always fumble through that stuff for the most part. And we know it. So why bother going out of your way for it. No sense overfilling one’s quota.

Foreign flicks are the best bet. I think that’s the trick with seeing something sexy onscreen without creating any undue angst while trying to light your own fires of passion. My favourites include anything Spanish. Maybe it’s the distraction of the subtitles that makes it more comfortable. Moreover, it’s the disconnect of the storyline to any personal reality. I know I’m no philandering latin lover who drives a Vespa. I’ve seen several Salsa moves with more mojo than anything I’ve accomplished on or off the dance floor. My date knows she’s no high-strung seductress pondering whether she should kiss me or drive a banderilla through my spine. And so it becomes easier to disengage without losing the titillating enjoyment of it all. You can both leave the theatre and talk clinically about the hot scenes and wank on about how they loved it at Cannes, all the while wondering quietly to yourself whether you remembered to put clean sheets on your bed.


At 9/21/2005, Blogger 5th Muse said...

So I guess the show didn't lead you directly to those clean sheets? Gosh, to even be thinking about it on date one illustrates the tremendous distance between Mars and Venus ... Personally, I found the movie drove a bit of wedge between my "date" and I. I kept thinking, "So that's what I'm missing."

At 9/21/2005, Blogger The Chair said...

Well, the date was with a platonic friend, so I wasn't really in the same mode of thought. And I'm not so sure your line of thinking contradicts my general thesis regarding the influence of the movie. It may not happen on a first date, but it did "drive a wedge" between you and your date. I think Mars and Venus may not be too far apart on this topic, at least for the context of our thinking.

At 9/24/2005, Blogger 5th Muse said...

I agree with your general thesis, and wish you'd post more often!

At 9/26/2005, Anonymous Scout said...

I've just seen Constant Gardener, and what comes to mind is that the lovers were in the creepy zone that you have earlier written about, Chair.
Now, I don't know if that's true love, or just darn creepy.

At 9/26/2005, Blogger The Chair said...

WARNING: possible movie spoiler.

Yes, I caught that too. There was that whole "curmudgeon with a wild woman" thing going on. It made it all really predictable. I was hoping for more irony in that flick. In fact, at one point I was thinking that HE should be more the covert operative in the story instead of his wife.

As for the May-December thing, I never find that romantic. It's more like a clinical condition: she, looking for a father figure; he, doing the mid-life crisis thing. Boring and boring.

At 9/27/2005, Blogger Kellie said...

Agreed- May-December thing- hasn't it been done enough? I understand it happens still, but I don't find it exciting in any way.

Great post chair! And it is true- movies totally influence the future of the date-
so, how do you feel about scary films- horror or just plain thrillers? Where does this lead the date... I recall seeing Insomnia with my date and then him turning all the lights on in the house when we got home. Luckily this was my live in boyfriend, had it not been I might have been a bit concerned with his fright from the film.

At 9/27/2005, Blogger The Chair said...

The scary film, I suppose, has been a staple on the "first date" circuit since the 1950's. I'm not big on the genre, so I haven't had much on the date front with it. Though, I must admit, a woman who likes a scary movie suggests something appealing to me. Maybe it's the ability to suspend one's sense of disbelief and get enthralled in the fantasy. It suggests a playful and open disposition.

As for the scared boyfriend, there's an example of how timing is everything. Early in the courtship it may be a big turn-off, later in the courtship it's endearing.

And on the topic of May-December, what's with Canada's new Governor General and her husband? Now our head of state is in the creepy zone. Now that's a scary movie.

At 9/27/2005, Blogger The Chair said...

Oops, I must issue a retraction. Apparently the new GG and her beau are not, technically, in the creepy zone. If you believe the official bios, she's 48 and he's around 61. Of course, he looks older than 61 and can you believe she's close to 50? I think I need to get the research department to do a serious background check on these two. Wouldn't it be funny if somehow they lied about their ages in order to get married? Just the kind of scandal Canada needs right now. Mind you, with exports such as Celine Dion and her husband (all together now -- Ewww), the rest of the world probably already thinks we're a bunch of May-December romantics (that's the polite phrase).


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