The Extra Mile: My movie obsession and random stupidity

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I’m now up to 40 films seen this year, and at the rate I’m going, that would put me on pace for just over 100 again this year. It’s not a goal I’m aiming for (been there, done that, didn’t get a T-shirt – maybe I should), just to see good or interesting movies whenever they come up. But it’s also about maximising the spare time I have to see as many as possible, and that’s where I wonder if I do sometimes take things too far. Take for example this Sunday just gone.

The following takes place between 11:30 and 8:30 p.m. Events occur in real time. Ish.

11:30 Get in the car to drive into Cambridge. My wife is at work for the day, and her shift runs from 12:30 to 8:30. I have three choices for the day: church barbecue (but it’s the hottest day of the year, and being part ginger I can’t be out in the sun and it’s not as much fun without my wife), carry on with trying to get some work done (been doing for two days, including some on Saturday, and that’s driving me mad – need a break), or heading in to see something at the cinema. Four movies I want to see at the moment, and having done some pre-planning I think, with a fair wind and a bit of luck, I can get three of them in today.

12:05 Drop wife off at work, drive towards centre of Cambridge and find a parking space on a side road near the Cineworld cinema. Manage to find one in the shade – good start.

12:25 Use Unlimited card to get ticket for third film. You see, the plan is to be seeing Prince of Persia here at 5:30, but by then I’m hoping to have seen to other films, at an entirely different cinema. Then set off into centre of Cambridge.

12:45 Blimey, it’s hot. No doubt newscasters are running those “hottest day of the year” stories. Sooner or later the news will run stories about the religious devotion of the Pontiff and the bathroom habits of large furry mammals. Have arrived at other cinema, the Arts Picturehouse, to get tickets for the first two movies, Lebanon and Bad Lieutenant.

12:55 Having had lunch before I came out, no need to eat at the moment. So wander round the shops for 15 minutes. WH Smith has some clearance Blu-rays, including Hellboy and Kung Fu Panda for under a fiver, but I can’t quite justify it to myself. Each one of those is a whole cinema ticket!

13:05 Seem to have picked up a summer cold, but I have been prone to hay fever since we moved to the country, so pop in to Boots (no suicide bombers, thankfully) and get some antihistamines, non-drowsy of course.

13:13 Back at Picturehouse, having avoided the start of the ads. One thing I have learned to do in seeing so many movies is to try to avoid sitting through all of the ads, especially when seeing two or more in one day. Because they’re all the same ads, and eventually I start dreaming of jingles and promos as if I’ve been brainwashed, Clockwork Orange style.

The grand total of attendance for this showing, including myself, is two. I’d like to say this is a record, but on more than one occasion I’ve been to showings with less people than that. And two is probably the worst number. Because if you do anything, you’re potentially annoying 100% of the rest of the audience.

13:20 Having booked a seat on the back row (more legroom), have decided to move to a better viewpoint about half way back. Hope other bloke doesn’t mind.

13:25 Finally, trailers. For Eyes Wide Open, The Killer Inside Me and Tetro. Will definitely see at least one of those, possibly two, although June is a busy month for me.

13:32 And finally, we get to the film itself. That does not bode well for my plan later.

13:49 Those were non-drowsy antihistamines, weren’t they?

14:07 Zzzzzz…. Wha? Oh no, I’m in danger of nodding off. No reflection on the film, but don’t know why I’m so tired, and this is potentially disastrous. Not only for the current film, which cannot be watched with your eyes shut (strangely enough, I don’t speak Hebrew), but for the fact I’ve committed to watch two more films! I now take on the same panicked look as the main character in the movie when he’s looking down his gun sight.

14:29 Move seat to the end of the aisle. Rustle in small plastic bag for tissue. Watch other bloke very carefully to make sure he’s not giving me evils.

14:57 Now getting bum cramp. Very tempted to move again, but too afraid of annoying other bloke. (He probably doesn’t even know I’m here).

15:02 End of film. Generally very good, although I think my feelings fall between two other schools of thought (outstanding and okay). Now time for a plan.

15:08 Quick dash from the cinema onto Cambridge market, which thankfully is open for business. Decide the best bet to keep me going is protein and caffeine. Start with an ostrich burger, which are great tasting and also low fat (although Cambridge city council have a ban on fried onions. How odd) and then for a coffee. Get a double espresso from a coffee house down the road that will remain nameless, as it’s awful, but I take my medicine anyway. Washed down with a Gloucestershire Old Spot hot dog.

15:20 Back for the next showing. Need more caffeine. When my healthy plan doesn’t pan out, panic and go for a large Diet Pepsi and a bag of Revels.

15:23 The same adverts again. D’oh. There are around two dozen people at this one, so at least if I’m fidgeting it’ll be less noticeable.

15:35 Trailers. The risk I run, especially with the Picturehouse which often shows trailers for other movies currently playing, is that I’ve already seen the movie. So trailers for Lebanon (which is an okay trailer, but not great), Agora (saw it three days ago) and The Killer Inside Me. Oh well.

15:40 Bad Lieutenant: Port of yadda yadda yadda starts. I will now be sat looking at my watch nervously for two hours.

16:20 Iguanas! Cool. Mmm, Revels and Diet Pepsi.


17:30 Fully aware that the advertised running time is two hours and seven minutes, I am lulled into a false dawn by a scene that feels fairly final. It’s not.

17:38 Right, that’s it. Run, Forrest, run!

17:39 Out into the still very hot Cambridge sun, although there is at least a little shade from the buildings. Prince of Persia started nine minutes ago, and I have this journey to undertake. At walking pace I’m never going to make it. So I start jogging. Eight months and three stone lost have all come down to this moment.

17:44 Out… of… breath… can’t… stop… now… Jake… Gylllenhall… and… Gemma… … … ow, stitch… Arterton… better… be… worth… it… In my short-sleeved shirt, jeans and trainers with my iPhone playing MOR rock in my ear to help me set a pace I look like the world’s least prepared jogger.

17:52 Arrive at the Cineworld. Desperately need to let go of all that liquid, but there’s no time.

17:53 Am I in time? I was banking on 20-25 minutes of ads and trailers and… Twiglet: Eclipse trailer. Phew. Must be the last one. (Definitely won’t be seeing that one. How fake do those werewolves look?)

17:55 Brooklyn’s Finest trailer. Over a litre of Diet Pepsi, espresso and water pressing on my bladder. Can I be out and back in two minutes? No time for thinking, go, go!

17:57 Must be the film now, surely? No, Inception trailer! Aaarrrggghhh! I needn’t have killed myself running (well, jogging) down the road. This definitely better be worth it now!

18:00 Finally, Prince of Persia. Wow, it looks just like a video game. Thought this was supposed to be a movie?

18:30 Hey, ostrich racing! They’re really cute! In my caffeined-up state, I’m now convinced this is a grand conspiracy to convert me to vegetarianism. If a Gloucestershire Old Spot pig appears, I’m freaking out.

19:50 Thankfully no pigs, and a movie that was just about worth the mad dash. Back to the car for the drive to pick up my wife, and half an hour to spare. Right, next time she’s at work it’s four, then?

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