All that I am, all that I ever was…

I am more than my mental health. I am more than my homelessness. I am more than any one aspect of me. I am Addy. And this is…

(The 21 Challenge) Day 06. My fear of the cinema

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From June 1 to 21, I have challenged myself to do one new thing every day that scares me to help raise support for at risk homeless youth.

You can support me here…go on, it will make you feel all gooey inside.

Ever since I was a young bairn I have loved going to the cinema. Some of my clearest childhood memories involve visiting this heavenly place; The Bear in a cinema in Richmond with my mother and siblings, Oliver and Co. in a cinema in Aberdeen with family and friends, pretending to walk the invisible bridge and drinking from the correct grail after viewing Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade whilst on holiday in Jersey.

As I grew into an adult the cinema became a place to lose myself from the turmoil of my hidden self-harm and depression. Sometimes I would watch three or four films in a day or the same film multiple times over several months (my record is Baz Luhrmann‘s Romeo and Juliet; 16 times).

I can clearly remember queuing for nearly two hours with my brother so we could score the best seats for Jurassic Park and I can recall instantly the first film I watched with my respective partners; Meet the Parents, Kenny and Australia respectively, as well as the first film I saw in every city/country I visited, for example; High Fidelity (Vancouver/Canada), Blurred (Melbourne/Australia), Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End (Adelaide), Star Trek (Sydney) and The Dark Knight (Alice Springs).

But over the last few years the cinema has become a place of fear and pain.In the last twelve months I have seen only two films in the cinema – Super 8 and Transformers: Dark of the Moon (shudder) – despite dozens appearing that I wanted to watch.

Where once the cinema was a place of solace and relaxation, it has become a place of anxiety, stress and panic; something to fear rather than love.

So, given my current challenge to do something new each day that scares me, I had hoped to include the cinema on one of the twenty-one days. Does it count as something new? Yes – I haven’t been to the cinema in 2012, so that’s new, also,  I hadn’t seen the film I wanted to watch, so that’s new as well. Okay? :p

There are three primary reasons why going to the cinema scares me so much:

  • I have tremendous difficulty dealing with anything involving social interaction. Going to the cinema requires me to be out in public, talk to ticket staff, ushers, possibly fellow movie goers; all of which is hard because of my social anxiety.
  • I live 10kms from the nearest cinema, and my anxiety over buses means I have to walk – and walking for long distances tends to set my hallucinations running wild, which leads to chaos, frustration and migraines.
  • Ever since I had a panic attack whilst watching Transformers: Dark of the Moon I’ve been perpetually afraid another cinema trip would result in the same,

But today  I gathered my jacket and headed off. Throughout the ten kilometre walk I did descend into intense conversation with my hallucinations that resulted in a splitting headache and me sitting on the side of the path for several hours to compose myself. It would have been simple to turn around and head back to the safety of my house but I forged on.

I arrived at the cinema a good hour and a half early so I purchased my ticket and went for a sit down outside. In chosing my session time I deliberately opted for one that I thought would be quiet so I wasn’t surrounded by too many people, thus making things easier on my anxiety. Fortunately, this foreplanning paid off when I entered the cinema to find only a few people in the audience.

Stealing a breath I settled into my seat and waited for the movie to begin. A movie I’ve wanted to see for months.

The Avengers

Cobie Smulders

As I meandered the ten kilometres home I ruminated over the movie I had just watched and came to the same conclusion I reached after watching Toy Story 3 last year. It was a good movie, but I didn’t enjoy it quite as much as I thought I would.

It was nearly a year after release that I watched that Pixar gem and after so many reviews proclaiming it to be the greatest animated film ever (it isn’t) and that it makes grown men weep (it didn’t) I came away wondering if I would have enjoyed it more had I watched it before the reviews and hype tainted my expectations and built it into something it could never live up to.

After so many positive reviews, after so many people proclaiming it to be the greatest superhero movie ever, after over a decade of loving Joss Whedon…I couldn’t help but feel a little disappointed with The Avengers.

The first hour was disjointed, poorly written and un-engaging. Far too many times I found my mind wandering – should I watch The IT Crowd or Black Books this evening, am I missing any good articles being published, what can I blog about tomorrow – as the surprisingly lacklustre dialogue failed to engage me. As far as I’m concerned there’s a problem when you can anticipate the punch-lines and conversational responses within a movie; especially a Joss Whedon movie.

And if I were being completely honest, the appalling introduction of Thor saw me consider walking out. Now, I wasn’t expecting some grandiose shot or superb sequence, but this blink and you’ll miss it reveal atop the plane was poor at best.

Granted, the following fight sequence served as a redemption for this, but even this sequence felt as if it had been hammered in to appease fans hoping for a Thor/Iron Man/Captain America smack-down.

Only when Loki boarded the SHIELD craft did things perk up for me…

Seven Things I loved about The Avengers:

  1. Cobie Smulders
    I’ve had a crush on this actress since she guest starred in an episode of Smallville many years ago. She is my favourite cast member of How I Met Your Mother and I think she is utterly wonderful, talented and gorgeous. She had a much larger role than I thought she would and looked spectacular in her costume. Still wish she’d been cast as Wonder Woman though.
  2. Mark Ruffalo
    I hated Bana’s interpretation of this character. I actually rather enjoyed the Norton movie, mostly because I adore Tim Roth. But Mark Ruffalo, an actor I’ve loved since his appearance in classic Canadian television series Due South, was outstanding. Out of all of the Avengers he was by far the most enjoyable and his take on Banner/Hulk was pitch perfect in every way. A highlight of the movie.
  3. Robert Downy Jr
    One of only three people I could watch read the phone book and come away satisfied.
  4. The single take
    OH-MY-GOD! One of my favourite things in the world are single take shots in movies and television. Given Whedon has several brilliant single takes to his name I had hoped he would slide a few into this film, and when this sequence appeared during the climactic finale, seamlessly following each of the Avengers in their independent battles I was squeeing intensely and hopping up and down on my chair. Worth the price of admission alone.
  5. Scarlett Johansson
    I won’t hesitate in saying she’s one of my favourite actresses and she was magnificent from the word go in. In fact her introduction – and subsequent sequence with Banner – were the highlights of the lacklustre first hour. And yes, I’m male, so it didn’t escape me how divine she looked in each and every frame.
  6. Hulk punching Thor
    If you’ve seen it, you know which moment I’m talking about. If you haven’t, watch the film for this moment of genius alone.
  7. Hulk body-slamming Loki
    See above.

Anyone who (like me) finds the repeated appearance of this pose when it comes to female (but rarely male) stars somewhat sexist and annoying should have a wee gander at the end of this post for something rather amusing.

Seven Things I didn’t love about The Avengers:

  1. The middling first hour
    I went into this in my preamble.
  2. Captain America
    Note, not Chris Evans. I enjoyed Captain America far more than I thought I would, perhaps because it was partly filmed in Caerwent near where I used to live and the inclusion of Hayley Atwell, but of all the superheroes I find Captain America the least inspiring. In fact, Bananaman is more interesting than this guy.
  3. The plot was kinda ‘meh’
    In all honesty I wasn’t expecting King Lear or Hamlet, but given Whedon has frequently balanced multiple characters with insightful and complex plots, I was a trifle disappointed with a storyline that seemed more focussed on one-liners than anything else.
  4. Loki
    Absolutely superb, multi-layered and brilliant in Thor. One note, slightly annoying and pathos free here.
  5. Thor
    I think Hemsworth does an excellent job in portraying Thor but, as with Captain America, I’m just not all that interested in Thor as a character.
  6. Hawkeye
    I don’t get the chance to read comic books as I would like to so I don’t know too much about this character other than his appearance in Thor. His lack of a proper introduction made it impossible for me to relate in any way to the character and I came away thinking Renner, a superb actor, had been criminally wasted, especially in the first hour of the film.
  7. The aliens reminded me of Transformers
    Given I had a panic attack during Transformers: Dark of the Moon, this is not a good thing.

With the cold night gripping at my bones and the darkness around me reflecting my loneliness, I was happy I had watched the movie; it was far better than Green Lantern and Iron Man 2 although not as magnificent as The Dark Knight or Spider-Man 2.

As I said before, the hype is what killed this film for me, with several of the better lines being spoiled by errant reviewers and fans. If I were being honest I could probably come up with many more things I loved about this movie, but the same could also be said for things I didn’t, so I shall just leave things as they are.

Is it worth watching? Of course it is. Once you get past the lacklustre first hour it becomes a highly entertaining movie that is certainly one of the better comic book adaptations out there. Just not the best.

Mostly I’m just proud of myself for accomplishing something and fighting past my fear. It may not seem much to other people, but as I fight to rebuild my life from the binds anxiety and trauma have on me, a small thing like this can feel very, very big indeed.

Avengers Booty Ass-emble by *kevinbolk on deviantART

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