A Night at the Movies

by Miguel de Icaza

One of the advantages of going to the movies in Boston is that the experience is enhanced by comments from expert graduates and undergraduates from the many famous universities in town.

We recently went to see the new James Bond movie, "Casino Royale" at one of Boston's largest movie theaters. We arrived with plenty of time to spare, and we managed to get some great seats: middle, center-front.

There were four or five Harvard students sitting behind us. Properly dressed, well groomed, and with impeccable haircuts. On our left, an MIT student with his date. He reminded me of the comic guy from the Simpsons.

MIT guy provided some valuable data throughout the movie.

When the first bullet was fired and the character dies, he solemnly informed his date "That is unrealistic" and he gave some details to back up his assertion "a bullet fired in that direction and speed would not push the body in that angle, let alone throw a guy from a chair".

This was a premonition of the things to come. He had found a mission, a goal worth standing up for. During the rest of the movie he kept us informed about which parts were realistic and which ones were not. For the next two hours and a half, we were treated to a string of assessments "realistic" and "not realistic".

Every once in a while he would also comment on the technological developments in this new Bond movie, "that technology actually exists.". He complements it with, "they are actually different". I was hoping he would say to his date at some point "That myth has been busted", but I waited in vain.

I probably could have learned more from this MIT fellow about poker and the probabilities in the game, but the movie was distracting me from his fascinating lecture on the math and strategy behind poker.

The Harvard guys were definitely more social, more outgoing. And they also shared with the rest of us their movie evaluations.

Although they mostly focused on the various Bond girls. Unlike the MIT guy that went into longer discussions and technical explorations, they limited their comments to short sentences, they had developed an advanced taste for succinct statements: "Yeah Baby" was a favorite, a few "I want some of that" and sometimes they just used a few guttural sounds.

They also shared with us their jet-setting background as they addressed the local culture "That is totally Venice".

If I had to guess, I would guess they were not English Majors.

What I found interesting is that the well-groomed Harvard folks giggled every time a girl was on screen. If the scene contained some erotic material, love declarations or kissing, the giggling usually turned into chatter. I learned a lot from them. Four out of five would "totally do her" and one of them would "Also quit the job for her", perhaps he was a secret agent wearing a Harvard sweat shirt yearning for a better undercover assignment.

Posted on 06 Dec 2006