i suddenly remembered the movie pass dan gave me and since today was the last day i could use it, i quickly got dressed and walked down to harvard square to catch a very long engagement. it was the first showing of the day and the theatre seemed like it'd just opened. there was nobody at the box office, so you had to buy your tickets from the concession stand. the people who partake of these matinees all seem like they're in on the same conspiracy, a lot of sideway glances and spirited banter. a man bought some popcorn and kept on saying how he "likes a lot of butter." even i joined in the chatter, "oh, you can't read my mind?" i told the concession man when he asked which movie i was seeing. the movie pass also includes a free small popcorn, and combined with my contraband can of pepsi smuggled inside my bag, i was all set. there was a surprisingly big turnout, about 2 dozen theatregoers in attendance. because i was there early, i got the best seat in the house, dead center with the railing as a foot rest.

let me warn you right off the bat that you should bring some kleenex with you when you watch a very long engagement. towards the end of the movie i could hear the row of women sitting behind crying. i had to look away from the screen and think of something else to stop myself from tearing up as well. a very long engagement takes place during WWI, as the first scene we see are 5 french soldiers being led away in the trenches to their execution for abandoning their duty by purposely injuring themselves. fast forward sometime later, with the war over, young mathilde (audrey tautou) learns of the death of her fiance manech but believes in her heart that he is in fact still alive. the rest of the film follows her as she leads a complicated investigation, searching for clues, going after leads, until finally we learn the truth about her manech. only in a movie would the heroine show such undying love bordering on unhealthy obsession, but the audience can't help but to root for mathilde, to secretly wish for her reunion with manech. directed by jean-pierre jeunet, who directed amélie (2001) as well, the movie is a cross between amélie and saving private ryan: spots of fuzzy cuteness mixed with gritty war footage. the storyline is complicated and you really have to pay attention otherwise it's easy to get lost, but as the movie progresses, the pieces all start to fit, to arrive at the eventual ending with a satisfying gusto. shades of happenstance (2000) can be seen whenever mathilde needs a sign to answer a question, like, "if the dog comes into the bedroom before breakfast is called, manech is alive." jodie foster also has a surprising cameo, showcasing her french fluency in both its language and its lovemaking. there really isn't much more i can say about the film without giving it away. suffice to say, if you loved amélie, you're going to love a very long engagement too, a definite addition on anyone's top 10 list for this year.

i went to the drug store to pick up my prescription. there was some drama with my health insurance: because my old prescription hadn't fully run out yet, my insurance wouldn't pay for the new prescription until sometime in january. unfortunately, i only have health insurance until the end of this year, so i ended up paying "retail" on the drugs, which was only a little bit more expensive than if tufts health plan had been involved. when i got home i called tufts health to see what my options were regarding individual health care. i figured maybe $300/month (about what i'd been paying the past few months, while the company still existed on paper at least), but based on my age and my town of residence, i'd have to pay $560/month. no way could i afford that. so looks like i'm going elsewhere with my medical care. i hear there's a good doctor who operates from a van down by the river.

i remembered i didn't eat yet all day, so from the fridge i dug out the leftovers renata's mother had given me, a container of beef barley soup and another container of chicken cutlets. after i zapped them in the microwave, i ate voraciously in the living room while watching beyond re-animator on dvd. the graphic depiction of zombie mayhem didn't seem to faze me in the least.

my parents came to pick me up around 5:30, going out to dinner for my mother's 53rd birthday. i gave my mother two containers of black cardamon. we ended up going to victoria's seafood restaurant in boston. there was a 20-30 minute wait, so we went next door to EMS to do some browsing. when we returned to the restaurant our table still wasn't ready yet. we ended up waiting a whole hour before we got seated. on my mother's last birthday we came out to the exact same restaurant for dinner as well, and in a weird coincidence, tonight they sat us in the exact same table.

after dinner, we drove next door to the super 88 supermarket. after a big meal, food was the last thing on my mind and i didn't buy anything. however, in my quest to highlight some of the strange items you can find in asian grocery stores, i found a shelf of "erotic tonic" for men. later, when i got home, i finished watching beyond re-animator before viewing collateral, the ray charles + maverick story. tom cruise, all silver-haired and silver-suited, is like a terminator incarnate, especially towards the end when nothing seems to be stopping the guy.