The hotel is gorgeous. I'm reasonably certain that various journalistic niceties dissuade me from saying which hotel I'm speaking of, but suffice it to say "a pretty nice one." Everything is made of wood, granite and gold; all of it polished into an endless series of reflective surfaces like the "lounge" setup in an upscale furniture store.
I don't belong here.
I'm supposed to be here. I was invited, specifically to attend a "press event" for Zombieland. But that doesn't mean I belong here. I doubt I could afford a room here, and what with my travel ensemble of jeans and jean-jacket over a Super Mario Bros. t-shirt, it's safe to say that everyone from the VIPs to the wait-staff has outdressed me. This is a place that sees a steady stream of titanium cell phones and Amex Black Cards; I'm pocketing a digital audio-recorder and the remains of a commuter rail ticket.
I just caught myself reading those paragraphs back to myself in the voice of Johnny Depp as Hunter S. Thompson. That's sad.
This will be what they call in the business a "roundtable," during which I and the other movie journalist types will all gather and takes turns trading Q's&A's with Woody Harrelson and Jesse Eisenberg, the stars of the film. I'm just this side of nervous - I'm slightly new to doing this in a professional capacity, and unless I'm missing larger chunks of my memory than usual this will be the first time I've met anybody legitimately famous in a context where they're semi-obligated to acknowledge my presence.
There's a certain added surreality to the fact that one of the celebrities in question will be Woody Harrelson, since I'm here in Boston - within walking-distance of the bar that inspired Cheers, the TV sitcom on which he first became a star (everything in Boston is within walking distance, try driving here and you'll understand.) Alright, perhaps that's more "coincidental" than "surreal," but mainly it helps me add something to my mental "do's and don'ts" list: Bob, don't go asking a Cheers question, since he's probably heard a million of them today.
The whole thing is going down in what I call the "spooky" part of the hotel - i.e. the part where the architecture doesn't allow for any outside-looking windows, so if the artificial lights went out you might as well be miles below the Earth's surface. Did The Shining make this stuff creepy, or was it already creepy and The Shining just acknowledged that fact?
Spookiness immediately dissipates as I spy catering trays. I make a big Obvious Noob of myself being genuinely surprised at the presence of food. Carnival food, mostly, a reference to a big plot point in the movie involving an amusement park. Corn dogs and cotton candy accounted for, plus a certain infamous brand-name pastry that plays a significant role in one character's persona. Cute.
By now, I hope, you've had a chance to enjoy my actual review of the film, which should be running today. Suffice it to say, if either of the actors ask us if we liked the film, I'll be able to answer honestly and quite positively. It's a terrific little piece of work.
Eventually, we get to go in and meet The Stars. Immediately, I realize now why it's initially so strange to see movie people in real life: You keep expecting background music, or edits. Subsequently, I realize that Woody Harrelson does, in fact, seem to be as cool as you'd imagine him to be.
The questions start up so fast I barely have time to arm my recorder. It's clear that Eisenberg and Harrelson have been doing a lot of these; they have a snappy back-and-forth rapport similar to what their characters share in the film, complete with deadpan humorous responses to questions they've probably answered dozens of times already; i.e., someone asks right off the bat if Eisenberg finds any significance in having appeared in two films in a row with the word "Land" in the title. (Zombieland and Adventureland.)