I had a great weekend.
Friday night, before a wonderful dinner at a favorite restaurant, my husband and I didn't go see "Pulp Fiction." It was wonderful, not discussing the rousing scene in which a gunshot sprays somebody's brains around a car interior, and not having our angel hair pasta remind us of it.
Saturday was great too. Since we didn't see "The Specialist," we didn't waste valuable time wondering why Sharon Stone's character chose to strip to a G-string and preen before an uncurtained window while taking a phone call. Because we never saw "Natural Born Killers," we didn't have a single flashback to Juliette Lewis having sex atop a car and then blowing her partner to smithereens.
Nothing like not seeing a good movie.
That's odd, coming from me -- a certified member of the Movie Nut Society, a former film student who loves movies so much that as a child, I once asked my mom if there was such a thing as a bad one. That I now purposely miss so many movies means something. Something that a call from my brother, Bruce -- who'd phoned to say he'd just seen "Fiction" -- revealed.
When I asked if he liked it, he hesitated.
"It had really great moments," he said. "But after it was over, I was sitting in the dark, asking, 'Why am I learning so much about hit men and drug dealers?' "
(Not to mention moviedom's endless serial killers, sadists, hookers and Mafiosi.)
"Why am I, Joe Average, being fed this?" he continued. "Do I know such people? No. Does it enrich me to delve into their psyches? ... Critics say, 'You have to see this!' But why is it so important to learn about depraved people?"
Bruce has a writer friend who recently asked him to read his screenplay, a pre-World War II adventure. Though initially wary -- who savors the prospect of hating a pal's "masterpiece?" -- Bruce, a musician, was pleasantly shocked. "You know how you can hear a piece of music and say, 'That's it. That's excellence'?" he asked. "It was so good, I felt, 'I can't believe I know him.' "
The screenplay, he says, has been rejected by agents all over Hollywood. Each told his friend, "It's great. We love this. But there's just not enough violence. ... Kids today won't buy it." Each ultimately asked, "Can you fix it?"
But what, exactly, is broken?
A screenplay that, like those of such staggering recent hits as "The Lion King" and "Forrest Gump," eschews violence for humor, tenderness and adventure? The notion that what children and teenagers really want, must have, is violence -- when blockbusters from "ET" to "Star Wars" to "The Fugitive" to all-time winner, the cartoonish "Jurassic Park" proved that high suspense, high jinks and high youth attendance can be had without gallons of crimson splashing the screen?
Script doctors, heal thyselves.
Audiences too. I recently read that Oprah Winfrey walked out of a screening of the new film, "Interview With the Vampire," explaining that she no longer wished to let filmed depravity and negativity into her consciousness.
At some point, I made a similar choice. My mind's decor is too valuable to be splattered and smeared with some Hollywood sicko's horrific images. So are the minds of my children.
My resolve isn't perfect. Occasionally, I slip, allowing my children -- who pressure me after being pressured by friends who've seen whatever's "hot" -- to see movies they shouldn't.
What worries me more are the millions of children whose parents don't even try. I suspect the children who need the most help distinguishing between the surreal, fictional actions of movie characters and what's acceptable in real life, get the least.
I discussed this with my friend, movie critic Jane Horwitz. Though she urged me to see "Pulp Fiction" for its "message of redemption" and "lowlife scumbags who talk so beautifully," she said children shouldn't see it and the hundred other R-rated movies they line up to see.
Standing in line for "Hard Target" -- that "awful, horribly violent movie everyone called high art," she said, she saw four boys. "They were big, but clearly young suburban kids, 13 or 14 tops. ... The teenage girl in the box office sold them the tickets. Everyone knows it happens."
Horwitz, who has a much higher tolerance for stylish mayhem than I, agrees: Only consumers -- you, me and Oprahs everywhere -- can influence the movie industry by just saying no to garbage. By making sure our children say no too. As Jane says, "Marketing -- money -- is the only thing Hollywood understands."
Okay. So, wanna get together soon and not see "Interview With the Vampire?"
Saturday's good for me too.