I’m a huge sucker-chump for big endings, be they tragic or triumphant. That’s part of why, despite the humorous pay and the fact the hours eat big chunks of my weekend, being a movie critic is my #2 dream job. Once or twice a week, I get paid to go watch something that makes me all excited to be alive.

My kryptonite-like weakness for the big ending means I have to try extra hard to not overrate them once it’s reviewing time. Even something like Speed Racer, which I though looked great but mostly sucked, can get me amped up beyond all reason. I have to sit down and say Hey, me, yes, Speed won the big race, but remember how bored and annoyed you were through most of it? Remember how Spritle made you want to kill babies just in case they grew up to be like him? Remember all that? Okay, good, because I know the last scene you saw was pretty good, but the 130 minutes before that most decidedly were not.

Things get trickier with a movie like David Mamet’s Redbelt. The first two thirds are good, if a bit light on tension; the last third takes it up several notches; the ending feels close to transcendent. I’m certain it’s at least fairly good and possibly great, but how much of that is objective thought and how much is the post-coital glow of a decent story with a big emotional swell of an ending?

I’m honestly not sure yet; due to the laughable nonexistence of area movie screenings, I just caught it yesterday, and my review’s just half done. In concrete terms, it could end up anywhere from a B to an A- (though I’m leaning toward the upper end of the scale), which might sound like a fine distinction but carries a wide degree of difference–in my insular, moving-picture-addled mind, at least.

Trusting myself to pull together the right balance of the emotions I felt while watching it with the colder thoughts I had in the day or two afterwards is something I’m still working on. I guess you could say it’s the hard part of the job. That and forcing myself to go see “can’t possibly be good but can’t possibly be bad in a fun way either” fare like Made of Honor. I skipped that one, but by the time the year’s up, I’m sure I’ll have seen ten just like it. Remember that when you think I’ve got it easy, pal. Even when half of it consists of sitting in a dark room watching stories unfold on a house-sized screen, a job is always a job.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got a party hat, three bottles of champagne, and a stack of DVDs to attend to.

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