This weekend I watched David Fincher's The Game for the first time in a couple years. It holds up really well. I flipped to the station it was playing on right as Douglas's character was walking into the CRS offices for the first time. As soon as I saw the CRS abbreviation (which, for those who don't remember, stands for Consumer Recreation Services), I laughed, remembering back to those couple of weeks during my junior year in film school when we were all weirdly fixated on The Game.
When I first saw it at the good ole' Wynnsong, I was pretty freaked out. After the film let out, the first person I saw in the glare of the lobby lights was Tim Donner. (I think he was there to watch some movie Hickman was setting up for an after-hours screening.) Tim, having already seen it, asked me something innocuous like, "What did you think?" And I must have looked at him suspiciously because he asked, "Are you okay?" laughing a little nervously, as Tim was wont to do. Truth was, I wasn't okay, exactly. I was paranoid and suspicious. I felt like, somehow, Tim Donner was in on it, even though I didn't know what 'it' was. Coming out of that movie felt like waking up out of sleep. I hadn't come to my senses yet so Tim Donner asking me what I thought of the movie seemed like another strange extension of The Game; I felt like he had ulterior motives. I love it when a the reality of a movie can supplant the reality of your regular life, even if for just a little while.
The story the movie reminded me of specifically was this one:
All the way back in 1997, the Heath Bloop Wars were in full swing. I don't remember what Heath did to Matt Gray, but Matt was itching to pay Heath back in full. An opportunity presented itself when we learned that Heath, Shawn, and Heath's girlfriend at the time, Teanne, were off to see some random weekday matinee of The Game together over at the Wynnsong Theater. I believe they were on their way out to the theater when Matt and I first conceived our nefarious plan. I'm not sure with whom the idea originated, but Matt and I wanted to recreate for Heath (and Shawn and Teanne) that weird, hazy feeling of paranoia that Matt and I felt when we first saw the movie, but, more maliciously, we wanted to focus our efforts on Heath. If everything succeeded brilliantly, we'd have Heath turned into a blathering paranoid nutball in a strait jacket in no time. Or at the very least, we'd have him legitimately worried. We didn't have much time (the film's running time of 128 minutes to be exact), so we set to work.
To begin, we needed some people neither Heath, Shawn or Teanne would recognize. We recruited some first-year film students we found on some dorm hall or another, and told them the plan. Somewhat amazingly, they were game and agreed to help us. We drove over to the little house Danny McBride shared with Fradley and... (who was it? Sieb? Lucius?) Anyway, the four of us told Danny our plan and he agreed to let us borrow his videocamera. It was low on charge so we had to hang out for a little in Danny's dark dark house while it recharged a little. Satisfied we had enough charge to do what we wanted to do, we drove (in two cars) to a Burger King on the other side of I-40 from the Wynnsong, and realized we had some time to kill before the movie let out. Matt and I bought those first-years some BK lunch and made conversation for a bit. Then it was time. The first-years got into their little blue hatchback and headed for the theater, and we headed back to campus.
A little while later, when Heath, Shawn, and Teanne got back to the dorm, they had an unusual story to tell. Matt and I just so happened to be on-hand to hear them tell it. We affected an attitude of disbelief as the three of them told us what happened to them after the movie let out.
As they told it, they were coming out of the movie and getting into their car when some random moviegoer pulled up beside them. "Hey," the good Samaritan said. "I think those guys are filming you." At which point Heath, Shawn, and Teanne looked to see two unkempt young men, one with a camera perched on one shoulder. Upon being spotted, the mysterious film crew dropped immediately back into their little blue hatchback and took off out of the parking lot. Heath, Shawn, and Teanne drove after them, but were waylaid by a inconveniently-timed red light. The hatchback got away.
"Wow," said Matt and I. "That's frickin' crazy." And this wasn't entirely just us enjoying delicious dramatic irony. Things had not gone according to plan. Our plan had been for our first-years to videotape our Trio of Victims without being spotted. We would then deliver the unsettling videotape they produced to Heath, probably by slipping it into his mailbox at the film school. It was after Heath took the tape back to his dorm room and viewed it that we expected to hear the hilarious fruits of our labor. But we hadn't counted on the good Samaritan factor. If we thought there was any chance that Heath, Shawn, and Teanne, our Trio of Victims, would suddenly become Marauders for Truth running down our naive accomplices, we may have reconsidered using those guys. When we caught up with the first-years again, they told us their story. "They saw us," they said, sounding a little shaken. If I remember right, they were pretty freaked out when their quarry started driving after them. Turns out getting spotted wasn't the only screw-up. The camera's charge lasted all of 20 seconds before it died and so the videotape we got was essentially useless. If it weren't for that meddling good Samaritan, the whole thing would have been an entirely wasted effort.
So even though we didn't get the bloop we planned, we did succeed, even in a small way, to extend the paranoia of The Game out of the theaters. At least for a little while. I forget how soon after that happened we eventually told them our part in it. After that, Heath got into it by sending a videotapes(I can't remember what was on the tape itself, only that there was a tape with a white piece of paper taped to it with Heath's old circular insignia on it written in red marker), and leaving keys where I would find them. On one, Heath had written, "Don't make a motion." Man, did that make me laugh. Didn't Heath write 'CRS' in weird places all over someone's room? So many that, months and months later, the guy was still finding 'CRS's he hadn't found yet?
Anyway, we had some good times with CRS back at the SOF. Good times. Obviously, if any of the participants want to chime in with their recollections or corrections, please do.
All right, that's it for today. More tomorrow.