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NOTE: This is a recreation of my conversation with a stranger whom I’ve named The Amazon Man. He was 1 of the 3 with whom I attended the 1:15PM theatrical showing of the Netflix movie The Gray Man (starring Ryan Gosling, Chris Evans and Ana de Armas). The following is long (winded?), yet, captures the theatrical interaction one can’t get from a streaming device. I’m not taking sides in that battle but, instead, offering my experience. Enjoy. (But … it’s long-winded?)

The final credits roll. The other two audience members have already left. It’s now around 3:30PM on a Thursday afternoon.

The only other audience member, wearing a backpack and an Amazon hat, asks me, “How’d you like it?”

Me: That was one of the best action movies I’ve seen in a long time.

Amazon Man: (sighs) I was so confused. I didn’t know what was going on.

Me: Oh, really?

Amazon Man: All the camera movements. When they were on the plane –

Me: The special effects weren’t very good on that part.

Amazon Man: There was so much cutting, I couldn’t tell who was fighting who.

Me: There were some scenes that weren’t very good, but I was surprised. And I’m really picky. I mean, it was way better than Ambulance.

Amazon Man: This was the Russo Brothers. Infinity War. Endgame. This is really the best they could come up with?

Me: The story was definitely common. But I liked the dialogue and characters. And the action was entertaining.

I descend to the last step and am ready to leave him with his thoughts. Me with mine.

Amazon Man: You want to see a good action movie: No Body.

Me: No Body?

Amazon Man: Yep.

Me: No Body. Hmm. Not Mr. Nobody. I don’t know … I never heard of it.

Amazon Man: With Bob Odenkirk from –

Me: Oh, Nobody!

Amazon Man: Yeah, No Body.

Me: I didn’t know what you – I forgot what it was called. Yeah. I saw that. I liked that. But I was disappointed that it just became another John Wick. I thought it’d be a regular guy who –

Amazon Man: Well, yeah, it was written by the same guy. Derek Kolstad.

Me: Right.

Amazon Man tosses something on the way out of the theater.

Amazon Man: That pizza was disgusting. Frozen pepperoni. I was eating it through the whole movie.

Me: That might have been what wrecked the experience for you. Left a bad taste in your mouth.

[If I’d only been witty enough. I said the first sentence, but not the second. Dang it. Missed opportunity.]

 

Amazon Man: I haven’t slept in two days. I need to stay awake for my shift.

Me: Go see a bad, boring movie. Like Jurassic World.

Amazon Man: I haven’t seen the new three movies. Are they any good?

Me: No. They’re horrible. I didn’t ever like Jurassic Park, though, anyway.

Amazon Man: You know, the guy from “Seinfeld” had an idea to have his character return.

Me: Yeah, because they never show him die in the first one.

Amazon Man: Have him missing an eye, an arm, and a leg. It would be that he was never eaten the whole way because he was … a bigger guy. Fat. They said no, it wouldn’t work with the audience. But they can spend millions and millions on those Jurassic movies?

Me: Like I said, I’m surprised I enjoyed The Gray Man so much, because I’m so picky. But I didn’t feel like it was dumbed down as much as usual. There were definitely some bad scenes –

Amazon Man: You like action?

Me: Yeah.

Amazon Man: The Raid?

Me: Yep. That was good.

Amazon Man: Raid Two?

Me: Yep.

Amazon Man: Kung Fu Hustle.

Me: Yeah.

Amazon Man: Uh …

Me: District B13. I see a lot of stuff.

He pauses. I’m not sure if he believes that I’m a true film buff.

Me: I’m a major film buff. I like Stephen Chow.

[Stephen Chow directed Kung Fu Hustle.]

 

Amazon Man: He should have directed … [I don’t remember what Amazon Man said here.]

Me: You ever see Everything Everywhere All at Once?

Amazon Man: Yes.

Me: That reminded me of Chow. I didn’t really like that.

Amazon Man: You didn’t?!

Me: The first hour was okay. But then the message was just forced and so long.

Amazon Man: Well, the movie was about individuals and acceptance. Being seen –

Me: Right, I got that.

Amazon Man: It wasn’t about –

Me: Not about all the other stuff. Dimensions and stuff. Right.

Amazon Man: Right.

Me: After ten minutes, I knew that. I felt it was so dumbed down for the audience and so drawn out.

Amazon Man: And you know it’s a movie inside of a movie inside of a movie.

Me: Yeah.

[I almost said “meta” but thankfully didn’t. Because I wasn’t that impressed by that movie’s tactic. I was also not trying to win him over. He may have been proving his knowledge, which he didn’t have to.]

 

Amazon Man: When they see the movie, in the movie, when they go inside the movie theater, it’s Crazy Rich Asians that they’re watching. Which she’s in.

Me: Yeah, I know. And you knew it was going to get into that kind of thing because of that first camera shot starting by entering a mirror.

Amazon Man: Yeah. But you know what that movie was really about: drugs.

Me: Yeah, well, really you could see that and not have to be on any drugs. It’d be the same thing.

We smile.

You ever see Swiss Army Man? It’s the same guys that made Everything Everywhere All at Once.

Amazon Man: No … I couldn’t get past the fact that … the guy’s dead, but he’s in the movie.

Me: It’s weird. One of the directors also did a movie called The Death of Dick Long.

Amazon Man: The Death of Dick Long?

Me: Yeah. The title’s … yeah. But I liked it, because it’s a comedy but done in an independent, serious way. Like a psychological thriller. But then you realize they’re making jokes without the set up or –

Amazon Man: You know who the father was in Everything Everywhere All at Once?

Me: Yeah. From, uh, Big Trouble in Little China.

Amazon Man: No, no. The father. Indiana Jones.

Me: Oh that dad. I knew that was him! I thought you meant – I actually told someone I thought that was that actor. I never looked it up.

Amazon Man: You know who I mean?

[Again, possibly doubting me.]

 

Me: Yeah, yeah. From Goonies.

Amazon Man: No, no. The dad. Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom.

Me: The kid.

Amazon Man: Right. He’s the dad.

Me: I know who you mean. But that’s not the kid from Goonies?

Amazon Man: No.

Me: Oh, I always thought that was the same actor. I never looked him up.

Amazon Man: Nope. Two different people.

[Note: It is the same actor – Ke Huy Quan. Amazon Man was incorrect. At the time, I wondered if he thought I was being a little … racist? Mixing two kid Asian actors. But I did not confuse the two, or, think there were two. So … I’m not racist?]

 

Amazon Man: You’ve seen Predator?

Me: Yeah. It’s one of the better –

Amazon Man: The remake.

Me: Predators? I hated it. And part two.

Amazon Man: No, they’re making another one.

Me: Oh.

Amazon Man: Supposed to be Native Americans. So it’s Indians vs. Predators.

Me: Native Americans vs. Predators?

Amazon Man: Yeah.

[Who’s being racist now? Just joking. It’s almost impossible to keep up with politically correct jargon. But we do our best. Should I have said Indigenous People vs. Predators? Whoa! You want a cool idea? They should make Indigenous Beings vs. Predators and have it take place on the aliens‘ planet!]

 

Me: Predators vs. whatever. Like the comics. That’s awesome.

Amazon Man proceeds to tell me something about a reference that was made in Predator 2 relating to the comics. I was interested but don’t remember if it was a gun or what.

Me: I appreciate someone who knows movies and recognizes the art of all of it. And I’m so picky, like I’ve said, I’m surprised I enjoyed The Gray Man. So what specifically was it you didn’t like?

Amazon Man: The fight scenes. So much cutting.

Me: Oh, yeah. I agree. But I appreciated the fighting style, like Winter Soldier type of –

Amazon Man: I didn’t know what was going on.

Me: You ever see The Yards?

Amazon Man: No.

Me: Joaquin Phoenix. Mark Wahlberg.

Amazon Man: Oh, no. I don’t think so. Maybe.

Me: It’s good. It’s more of a drama. But there’s a great fight scene. Long, wide shots. And my favorite one is in Bad Boys. Not with Will Smith. The original. Well, not the original. The title is –

Amazon Man: You watch a lot of different movies.

Me: It’s with Sean Penn. From the 80’s. Yeah. I do.

Amazon Man: Anime?

Me: Uh … I … I love “Death Note.” I like “Initial D.” “Evangelion …” What’s it called? … Um, “Attack on Titan.” But I try all the popular ones, and I never like them. I’m really pick –

Amazon Man: You like boxing?

Me: Yeah. I took classes –

Amazon Man: I’ll show you this 30 second video, and you’ll want to see it.

[The video was slightly intriguing. An anime show called “Megalobox.” I wrote down the title on my hand. Amazon Man went to get me a napkin to write on. I was fine with my skin.]

 

Amazon Man: You ever see “Primal?”

Me: I don’t think so.

Amazon Man: It’s a cartoon, though.

Me: I watch tons of cartoons.

Amazon Man: I stopped watching cable when [some cartoon station] went off.

[I don’t think the channel was Cartoon Network. I excused myself so I could use the restroom, having been holding it this entire time. He was still there, politely waiting, and showed me the two minute, practically-silent trailer for “Primal.” We both appreciated the trailer’s originality.]

Me: It looks like an updated, gorier version of “Samurai Jack.”

Amazon Man: It’s the same creator. Genndy Tartakovsky.

Me: Oh.

[I tried to tell him about “The Shivering Truth” but couldn’t recall the title of the show. I told him to look up Trey Parker, because he hasn’t done many voices and he was on that show.]

 

Amazon Man: “Moral Orel?”

Me: No. Williams Street is the company.

Amazon Man: They’ve done a lot.

Me: Yeah. Just look up Trey Parker.

Amazon Man: It’s not Team America, is it?

Me: No. But I love “South Park.”

We were ready to part ways. He said he forgot something in the theater. I gave him my website, since he was a person who honored art and filmmaking.

Me: It was nice talking to you.

Amazon Man: Do me a favor. Have a good day. And be safe.

Me: You, too.

And I did him the favor throughout my bike ride home. I enjoyed the breeze, my solo movie time, recollections of other movie conversations with other strangers. How we, as a people, have advices to give and make private connections for our own amusement. How we can all love so much about cinema, and illustrations, and productions.

And the favor to have that good day extended all the way into the evening, where I decided to share our conversation with an audience (you). Because it was extremely satisfying to be part of something more than a name-dropping situation where you have to one-up the other person. Or where one is mostly educating the other.

He was perhaps testing my film knowledge a little, to make sure I was worthy of a deeper conversation, but I appreciated that, as well as his knowledge.

So, to you, Amazon Man. Thanks for the chat.

And I hope you get some rest before your next shift at work.

[I should have suggested The Black Phone for a good movie to nap through.]
Dan Jones

Author Dan Jones

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