This kino review is something special. It's a first in Moscow, if not world history: the first authentically interactive kino review ever.
When I read that a film called MY BIG, FAT GREEK WEDDING was an indy hit in the US, I was deeply suspicious. It was supposed to be an indy film, sure, but the title had all the cute, harmless irony of a high school play. One nice thing about indy flicks is that few of them make it to Moscow. That means fewer slow films featuring uncommunicative lead characters and close-ups of boiling tea kettles and entire dinner scenes in which no one says a word -- the kind of thing that passes for "realistic" at film festivals.
To my horror, My Big Fat Greek Wedding made it to Moscow. And it arrived with only one purpose: to raise my blood pressure.
I knew I'd hate it. That was the easy part. But I was scared, really. I don't need another chick flick to throw oil on my misogyny peat bog fires, turning them into a serial murder inferno.
Another, quieter fear: what if Greek Wedding was actually good? Aiieee! In that case, I really, really couldn't watch it. Because if it was good, it would be depressing as hell. One of those unmediated peeks into the small, sad dreams that make a woman's inner world.
So I decided that the best thing to do would be to review an American woman watching the movie. Rather than the movie itself. That seemed safer and easier, like grabbing a bystander and using her as a shield during a shoot-out.
So on Sunday morning, hungover, I posted this message on the Expat List:
Subject: Movie Date with the eXile!
For the film review in this issue of the eXile, I would like to conduct an experiment which will require the participation of a female American subject. I will be attending the 9:30 p.m. showing of "My Big Fat Greek Wedding" at the America Cinema, and I would like to take with me an American woman as my "date" in order to record her reactions to the film. I will pay for her ticket and snacks. Any female Americans interested please email me today at firstname.lastname@example.org
To my relief, I didn't get any responses on Sunday, which I felt gave me the right to skip the film. But then an amazing thing happened.
I got this message on Monday afternoon:
I just saw your post on the expat. You may have already found a date, but I figured I'd send you an email anyway. My numbers in Moscow are [...].
At first, I assumed I was being set up. But the phone numbers were real, as was the email's tone. I figured that Paige must either be an ironic alterno-grrl or frighteningly desperate. And duty demanded that I find out which.
In the meantime, I got two more letters. They were sexy as hell, I have to admit, but they rekindled my misogyny. What drives a woman to humiliation?
I called Paige and arranged to meet on Tuesday for the 5 o'clock showing, right as this issue was going to bed. She was neither defensive nor ironic on the phone.
To Paige's credit, she didn't lie when she described herself as looking "Russian." She didn't look all that Russian, but she definitely didn't look American: pale, lithe, with bright red lipstick and bright gold eye shadow. She had features, which is rare with American women. She held out her hand to me. I thought, "Uh-oh, I can't be mean to her." Nevertheless, I had Dr. Dolan, who accompanied me, take photos of us as if we were on a "date," which I planned to plaster on the kino page.
When Paige told me that she is a ballet dancer and a gymnast, I thought, "Uh-oh, I really, really can't be mean to her." She comes from the Deep South; she skipped college in favor of dance and travel, even given the option -- it takes incredible courage even for the dimmest American to forego college. I had to admit -- she was impressive.