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Monday, July 29, 2002  

Until this weekend Trash had never seen L.A. Confidential all the way through, at least in one sitting. She’d seen it the way I’ve seen Beetlejuice, i.e. in ten-to-twenty-minute chunks spread out over a couple of years and several cable channels. As everyone knows, the plot of L.A. Confidential is demanding enough when you don’t have to piece it together in your head using information from a previous scene you missed today but saw on TNT four months ago. Plus I wasn’t much help at filling in the blanks. Not only do I not remember everything that happens, but I also have this annoying reluctance to tell people what happens, because I enjoy seeing their reactions to stuff they don’t expect. So we put the movie into our Netflix queue and she looked forward to seeing it in its unedited, uninterrupted entirety.

I looked forward to seeing her see it in its entirety as well. But by the time we put the disk in the player on Saturday night, I was feeling a bit run down as a result of having a long day and perhaps a beer or two. What follows is my experience of seeing L.A. Confidential again, for the first time (warning: Spoilers!):

Danny DeVito’s voiceover prologue. Credits.

First act. Introduction of main characters, riot in police station, Guy Pearce gets promoted. In about the time it took you to read that.

By this point, I was thinking, Wow, I don’t remember the movie getting started this fast. The next thing I knew, there was a gunshot and Kevin Spacey was saying “Rollo Tomasi.” Almost immediately thereafter, the movie was over, the TV was off, and Trash was telling me that our friends had left and we should go to bed because our sofa isn’t drool-proof. Sorry, friends. Didn’t mean to crash on you there.

I don’t feel too bad about missing the movie because there are very few movies I need to see more than once anyway. But the experience got me thinking about how many other movies there are out there that could be drastically improved by a judicious infusion of unconsciousness:

Star Wars - Episode One: The Phantom Menace: Sleep through entire movie. Like you need me to tell you that. Optional: open one eye during moments when Jar Jar experiences pain or humiliation. Close eye before he starts talking about it.

The Matrix: Drift towards awareness during Morpheus’s speech about dreams and reality. Undergo a minor freakout without ever opening your eyes. Wake up for lobby shootout, and forget about sleeping for another four hours because that scene is so damn cool and you really need to see it again now, okay? Same with every scene thereafter.

Airplane: Drift off during every ten-second lull between gags. Not advised if you actually need sleep.

Titanic: Wake up when the ship hits the iceberg. Go back to sleep when Leo hits the Atlantic. Why won’t video stores sell me just the second tape?

The Sixth Sense: Just conk out ten minutes before the end. Once the kid and the mom have their little moment in the traffic jam, there’s nothing else you need to see.

The Usual Suspects: Doze vigorously throughout the film until the last three minutes. Compare Chazz Palminteri’s final, flashback-drenched epiphany with your own disjointed experience of the film. Decide that Keyser Soze was really, all along, Dan Hedaya.

Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels: Wake up halfway through, insisting that you completely understood every word of dialogue up to that point, but now it’s just total gibberish.

You think I’m kidding, but there might be something to this. What we need now is a narcoleptic film critic, so the moviegoing public can make the most of its entertainment dollar while minimizing fatigue from lack of sleep. Someday the nation will thank me.

posted by M. Giant 3:21 PM 0 comments


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