Sex, Lies and Pasta

I have advice for you. Never try to see seven movies in a 36-hour period.

It is impossible for the human brain to absorb, and the human behind to endure, whatever relevance the films might contain when they are viewed in such a tight time period.

After a while, everything begins to run together.

I can't recall, for instance, whether it was the Puerto Rican angel or the space angel who tried to save John Belushi.

As I sit here trying to sort it out, I think it was the Puerto Rican I saw in "Wired" and the extraterrestrial in "The Abyss," a film that roughly combines "Close Encounters" and "Last Temptation of Christ."

The space angel was the most unusual of the two. Almost everyone has seen a Puerto Rican, but it isn't every day you come across an angel who looks like a neon manta ray.

Our Movie Marathon took place over the Labor Day Weekend.

We saw three movies on Day One and four movies on Day Two. They were (Day One), "The Package," "When Harry Met Sally" and "Uncle Buck." Day Two consisted of "The Abyss," "Parenthood," "Wired" and "Sex, Lies and Videotape."

This all began by wanting to see "Sex, Lies and Etc.," because that's what everyone in L.A. is talking about.

This is essentially a one-industry town and when a movie with the impact of "S, L & V" hits, everyone forgets whatever else was on their minds and heads for the cinema.

Who cares, for instance, about Tom Bradley's troubles when there's this guy doing videotapes of women discussing their orgasms?

"You oversimplify," my wife said wearily, "but then you always do. It's your profession."

We had just left the Century City theater, where we saw "Sex and Lies."

"If it wasn't women talking dirty to a stranger, what was it?" I asked, in a tone that artfully blended innocence and arrogance.

"It was a film of relationships," she said. "Sex was a focus because it is a more compelling subject. Otherwise, they could have been discussing tortellini."

"I love tortellini," I said.

She sighed. "I know."

"It was a dirty movie," I said flatly, "no two ways about it."

"You would see moral filth in 'Milo and Otis.' It was a movie about anguished humanity."

"What about when they . . . you know. . . ."

"Masturbated?"

"Not so loud. A priest might be listening. In addition to which, I find the word offensive."

"I'm sorry. I forgot you were Catholic. Next time we'll see a movie more to your liking. Perhaps 'The Ant People' will come around again."

We don't always agree on movies. Her tastes tilt toward "Antigone," mine toward "The Swamp Creature." That's part of the reason we attempt to see such a variety of movies when the time becomes available.

The biggest loss was "Wired," the overblown story of a man with limited talent and an excessive appetite for almost everything.

"Sex and Lies," I guess you'd have to say, was probably the best of the seven.

"When Harry Met Sally" wins the cute award. We saw it first, so my vision was clear. It was only into "Uncle Buck" that everything began to blur.

It was probably just as well. Fat men who fall down are not especially funny. I feel that way about old Fatty Arbuckle movies.

"Why is it," I said to my wife, "that the two best movies, 'Sex and Lies' and 'Harry and Sally,' were both somber dissertations on female sexuality?"

"How in God's name can you say that? They weren't limited to female sexuality and they sure weren't somber. You laughed like crazy in 'Harry and Sally.' "

"All right, I laughed, but the big scene was Meg Ryan in the deli moaning and slapping the table-top. That was unsettling."

"It was unsettling because men cannot face the possibility that women might be secretly mocking their, you know, Manliness."

"I can face anything."

She smiled slightly. "Wanna bet?"

I let the subject drop and pouted in suspicious silence. She is a sensitive lady and perceived my anguish. Women cannot tolerate men in pain.

"Tell you what," she said, "most of the movies were my choice, so next week I'll rent you a bunch of movies of your choice. My treat. You can pig out on a whole day of slime and monsters. Maybe I can even find your favorite, the man who turns into a snake."

I smiled. Men sure know how to handle women. When we got home we talked about pasta. Boy do I love tortellini.

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