20 February 2007

Fade In: The Raleighwood Academy Awards© Gala

I have a confession to make: I love movies and if I could act my way out of a box, write my way through more than 12 pages of dialogue, or if extras were paid a decent salary, I would probably seriously consider doing something in that field as a career choice. There's a reason why "Cinema Paradiso" is my all-time favourite movie...and it's because I 'knew' that movie internally the first time I ever saw it and am still transfixed by it, and its message. (I understand it's in subtitles, folks, but if you've never seen it, by all means: go rent the film and watch it, read it, and appreciate it for the wonderful piece that it truly is. I really think it should be required viewing for all film fans.) Given an opportunity to go back in time, I would be the Midwestern girl who shows up in the Silent Age (and Birth) of Hollywood, looking for a job in pictures...any job...eyes aglow with the prospect of succeeding in an unchartered field. Whereas some single women I know have books on cooking, or catching the perfect husband, or cardio kickboxing, my bookshelves are lined with biographies of Clara Bow, Billy Wilder, and Charlie Chaplin and auctioned scripts from the likes of Orson Welles and Sidney Lumet. I admit it: I'm a film fan.

Many years ago, I actually pursued 'the whole movie gig' a bit as a cub writer and general production assistant (both here in-state and for a very short stint in LA with some friends), but I realized very quickly I didn't have the 'stomach' for a lot of what passes in the biz as 'business as usual'. As time went on, I found myself hating every new person I met and resenting people of great smarts who clearly had copped a Robert Johnson and sold their souls to the Devil somewhere along the way. To some degree, those same attitudes come with any Hollywood-greenlit production that has scenes shot locally. It's nothing short of staggering what money can do to people who worship it, and what it can do to those who use it as power. I came back from LA very snide, very cynical, very distrustful...very unlike who I wanted to be, very unlike who I am. I gave up on the movie biz, but when I came back, I put newfound faith in me.

I have a good friend who still is involved heavily in the dog and pony show that is LA, and every so often she asks me to come back and give it another go...convinced that I gave up on my dream too early and that a lot of good people do prosper in the biz, you just have to 'understand, accept, and master the unspoken ground rules' before you meet them. Ehhhhh...no thanks. I have a hard enough time understanding and accepting my own rules as it is, and I'm pretty damn sure I don't want to spend years figuring out others' 'unspoken' ones. Every two months or so, she calls and regales me of her latest adventures with the Next Big Things in the Big Smog of LA and reminds me her sofa bed is always available. I always refuse and then proceed to remind her what 'normal' people are like (both physically and socially) and how I can actually get halfway across the state in the same amount of time it takes her to get to work on the 405. For years, I clearly was not getting through to her. Then, several years ago, a great movie called "Primary Colors" had a fantastic sequence that summed it up for me:
"I don't care.
I'm sorry, but I'm not comparing the players.
I don't like the game."
(Script quote from Script-o-Rama.) It's taken a bit now, but when I start up with that quote, all invites to LA from her come full stop. And I smile because I know I'm still right about the place.

So, after the disastrous short-term insanity that was LA had come and gone, I came back and looked for something to cure my fix. Not finding a local theatrical group willing to take on a non-acting, non-singing, non-talented wannabe, I contented myself with just doing something 'big' for the awards shows. (A mighty step down perhaps, but it also gave me a reason to 'show off' a bit, so I guess it also served its purpose, too.) None of these were grandiose, mind you, but instead nice little celebrations where friends invited friends and eventually the thing grew and grew and grew...so much so that 'pre-planning' meetings with friends were required and 'suggested dress themes' were included on the computer-generated invites. Years before, I had attended an even bigger function locally where the party was taken way too seriously (this area actually boasts some technical Oscar® winners, as bizarre as that may sound on first mention), where 'for your consideration' tapes of candidates played in the background and a strict dress code was required. Both were really good experiments in trying to make a 'national' party with a local flair and bring in 'other' people to a group. Looking back on both of these now, I guess I appreciated the 'local grandeur' of it all (us movie snobs love to congregate together every chance we get), but about 30 minutes into either shindig, I was always looking lustily at the nearest exit. Somewhere about the time the first "Lord of the Rings" movies hit, I declared I was taking a sabbatical from even the local parties (and not just because I refused to pay the outrageously princely sums for costume rental).

©Academy Awards, 2007. From the Raleighwood Cinema Grill website, 2007.

Well, I've decided that eating Junior Mints and heavily buttered popcorn again this year at home in my PJs isn't going to cut it. And I may have found a place: the Raleighwood Cinema Grill is having their Annual Awards Gala this Sunday. Complete with optional dress code, 'star lookalikes', the Carolina Garrison of the 501st Legion of the "Star Wars" costume group (???), and refreshments...it sounds like it could be right up my alley. The RCG has always been an unique experience anyway, as you can always sit and enjoy waiters bringing a whole menu of food and drink items while reclining in comfy chairs...no missing scenes waiting for the soda jerk to top off the refill at the concession stand. While I have to admit this year's candidates seem lackluster compared to some previous seasons, I also relent it could be just as good (if not also possibly corny) to see the costumes of the attendees. With all the 'royal' themes in contention for awards this year ("The Queen", "The Last King of Scotland", etc), one has to wonder how many adult-size tiaras and military-influenced uniforms will be in attendance. And, of course...the 501st Legion (some of whom marched in the Rose Bowl Parade this year with mastermind George Lucas)...a girl should never pass up the chance to meet the Legion.

So, even though I will have to be budget conscious and perhaps take a nap before I go so as to not be snoring when the 'good' awards finally roll around, I plan on attending Sunday. Like all good movie divas, I have absolutely nothing to wear that I find immediately acceptable so a run to either the crafts store and/or thrift store may be in the immediate future. Luckily for me, I already have some spare wigs to choose from. Unfortunately, though, all my other mates around town (including the practically movie avoiding WR) could care less about such things...which will only bring out the movie snobbishness in me, I fear, but oh well. I love a good debate on these things as much as the next snob does. It is, after all, about meeting up with other people who share the same interests, right?? Plus, the RCG has some really good buttered popcorn. This should hopefully bring me a chance 'to participate' as it were, but also appreciate the simply wonderful things in life here back in Realityville. And sometimes that's just the happy ending I'm looking for.

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