The Chronicles of #ALLMYMOVIES: The Marsh, The LaBeouf, and The Angelika

The Chronicles of #ALLMYMOVIES: The Marsh, The LaBeouf, and The Angelika

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On November 10th, 2015 at the strike of noon, actor/director/crazy man Shia LaBeouf sat in the aisle seat of Row E in the smallest auditorium of the Angelika Film Center in New York City.  He would be spending the next three days in this auditorium watching every single one of his movies in reverse chronological order.  LaBeouf, along with his collaborative partners from last year’s “#IAMSORRY” event Nastja Säde Rönkkö and Luke Turner, gave the three day long event the name “#ALLMYMOVIES.” Not only was this being streamed live onto the internet via newhive.com, but the three invited anyone in the NYC area to the event, which was free to the public and completely interrupted aside from the 5-10 minute intermissions between films.  Once word spread about the event, a line began to grow from within the relatively small 6 screen theater.  Reporters, fans, friends, and colleagues of LaBeouf all showed up to see what the bloody hell was going on with this latest “performance piece.”  One of those many people happened to be yours truly.  Without further ado, here’s my tale about Shia LaBeouf’s latest foray into absurdity and randomness.

Believe it or not, I had known about this event for a few weeks prior to it actually happening.  I have a colleague who works at the theater who told me Shia was going to his work to watch all of his movies.    In the early hours of November 10th, around 2:30am, I was just finishing up my homework when I saw the time.  Having forgotten about the event, I said to myself “Why get 5 hours of sleep when you can just get stuff done and pull an all nighter?”  So that’s exactly what I did: I pulled an all nighter.  With the power of will, along with 10mg of Adderall, I managed to go throughout that morning, along with the rest of the day, without a yawn or a slight closing of the eyelids. 

When the event was eventually announced in the early afternoon of that day, I just said to myself “Oh yeah, that’s pretty cool.”  It was at this moment that my brain subconsciously said to the rest of my body “We are going to see Shia LaBeouf tonight.”  The additional fact that I was going to a museum less than half a mile away from the Angelika at 3:30 the next day helped my mind and body prepare itself for what was to happen.  Cut to maybe an hour or two later, and the idea, now a bonafide plan, was locked in. “I am going to see Shia LaBeouf tonight” is what I kept saying.  You may be thinking to yourself “Zach, what the hell were you thinking, going into the city by yourself just to see some fucking wannabe celebrity watch his own shit?”  Well I thought ahead of that and decided to invite some people to go with me to the event.

The time was 10pm and I finished up as much homework as I humanly could before doing anything involving the event.  Knowing how crappy my phone’s battery is and that I was going to be in the city for a long time, I packed the essentials: schoolwork, a phone charger for the wall, two portable phone chargers, a couple of pencils, some erasers, and a blanket.  It was also around this time that I began to really start forming a group of people who were going to be attending with me.  By the time I ended up leaving for the event, the time was approx. 11:25pm and I had four friends of mine tagging along for what was going to be one hell of a night.  Due to delayed trains, (as well as my friends being slow-movers and not exactly getting what I mean when I say “move your ass,” but hey, let’s keep it at “delayed trains) we didn’t get to the theater until 12:15am, just as the morning of Wednesday November 11th began.  I figured this would be the best time to go because, let’s face it, who in their right mind would wait throughout the early hours of a Wednesday morning just to watch some movies they could see anywhere else for free in the presence of the star of those films?  As it turned out, a whole lot of people would do just that, and by the time my friends and I got there we were at the back of a line that was at a corner outside of the theater.
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40 minutes passed before we were actually inside the warm sanctum of the theater’s interior, but it was clear that there was going to be a LOT of waiting.  Even though I explicitly told my colleagues that this was going to be a long night of waiting before we even set foot into the auditorium, it seemed like this was never fully processed inside their heads.  So by the time the clock struck 1:45am, everyone bolted, leaving me as the “lone survivor” of the group, so to speak.  I don’t think this was a bad thing per say, as I was beginning to get a headache from their random spurts of chatting and laughing at this hour.  Not to mention, they probably would have been completely bored, tired, and maybe even more irritating had they stayed with me in line.  As sad as I was to see them go and be alone in New York City at 2am, fate did have good plans for me.

It turned out that there were people who I knew via a film group on Facebook who were waiting in line several people in front of me.  I managed to hang with them, possibly saving me another hour or two of waiting in line.  One of these guys, who for the sake of this piece I will call “Mr. J,” clearly had something against me.  I tried finding out, but he wouldn’t tell me.  Luckily as the night went on he did seem to loosen up and interact with me more.  The other guy, who I will call “Posh Spice,” was nicer than “Mr. J,” but it was obvious that he was tired.  “Posh Spice” was actually one of the first people inside the theater for the event, but had to leave earlier than anticipated for personal reasons.  If you look up any news articles about the event via places like USA Today, he’s actually the guy mugging behind Shia in the photos posted from the live stream.  I’m dead serious about this too.

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So time had passed and it was 3:30 in the AM.  I would guess that I was maybe 30 or so people away from reaching the “holy Mecca” that was the theater auditorium.  I was keeping myself entertained using the power of conversation, as well as the power of Facebook and Candy Crush on the mobile device.  I was getting tired at this point, and yet it was hard to fall asleep surrounded by complete strangers in a lobby where most of the lights were beaming a fluorescent yellow.  I tried closing my eyes, but dozing off into dreamland wasn’t going to be happening anytime soon.  It was at this moment that I realized two things: 1.) I was hungry. 2.) I had a meeting to go to. (if you don’t know what #2 means, either think about it or google it.)  The urges weren’t that strong, and I managed to hold out my craving of food for about another hour when I had a Chicken Empanada for “breakfast.”  

5am.  The line was moving some more.  And more.  And more.  5 minutes later, and I was about the 12th person in line from the front.  Watching people come up the escalator from their time with Shia was like hearing angels sing at this point in time.  In fact, people actually applauded every time there were others coming up the escalator, myself included.  The waiting was excruciating, but the people around me were fun to talk to.  6am came, and I was third or fourth from getting in.  I was almost there, and the anticipation was killing.  I think even Frankenfurter would be shaking by now.  “Posh Spice” and “Mr. J” got in maybe 15 minutes prior, which made the wait even more irritating.  At the strike of 6:09am, though, I finally got my chance.

Two more people came up the magical escalator, and I was handed a cheap little ticket that you could get at the dollar store by an Angelika employee with the words “you’re up” coming out of his mouth.  Filled with glee, I made my way to the escalator and rode my way down to the “holy land” that was Auditorium #6.  The joy I felt could be compared to that of an immigrant’s when they’re finally admitted into the United States.  Before I entered the theater though, I had to deport some immigrants myself, if you catch my drift.  People were telling me that you were going to be checked by security and have them use a metal detector on you.  This was not the case for me surprisingly, though it might have been because everyone was tired and it was 6 in the morning.  I was just given the rule to not use my cell phone in the theater, and alas I was admitted in.  Success.  Be.  Mine.

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When I entered the theater, the audience was focused on the screen as “Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps” was at about its halfway point.  I looked in front of me to my right and I saw a camera facing a row of people, more specifically one man in front of said camera.  I was looking at Shia LaBeouf watching a mediocre film he starred in.  Then again, I didn’t remember much about the film as I had only seen it once several years prior.  While watching “Money Never Sleeps,” I couldn’t help but watch both the movie and LaBeouf watching the film, as the whole experience was kind of surreal.  From what I caught of the film’s second half, it wasn’t terrible.  Nothing remarkable or anything, but decent overall.  As soon as the credits began rolling on the screen, Shia bounced out of his seat and rushed out of the theater as fast as Shia-ly possible.  Pretty soon, I followed.

Once I got out into the theater lobby, Shia was nowhere to be seen.  Immediately my eyes turned to the bathroom, where I went to wash my face.  Upon exiting the lavatory, I noticed two workers next to an open door at the right end of the hallway.  This, I presumed, was where Shia was hanging out in between movies in order to avoid fans.  In this moment, I felt some pity for Mr. LaBeouf, and being the kind soul I can be, I decided to ask the workers if I could speak to Shia and offer him something.  They agreed, and I was let into a grey, well-lit, yet office-building-like hallway where Shia and his manager were standing.  Feelings of excitement, awkwardness, and slight fear swam throughout my body, and yet I knew I couldn’t turn back now.  Shia was smoking a cigarette, which was probably another reason he was in a rush to get out, and was standing while his manager stood with him.  With as much strength as I could muzzle out of me, I spoke.  

“Mr. LaBeouf?”  Both men turned to me, and I didn’t waste a second getting to what I had to say.  “Hi there, I know you’re not speaking to anyone during this event, but I just wanted to offer you any snacks at the concession stand on me.  I know you may be able to pay for it, but I just wanted to get you something to eat or drink, my treat.”  Less than a second passed before, surprisingly enough, Shia spoke to me. “No no, I’m good.  Thank you though, man.”  Startled and surprised, I just said to him “Oh ok, enjoy the rest of the event!”  We waved, and I left.  I was perplexed and somewhat excited at the same time.  Shia spoke to me.  This probably shouldn’t be as big of a deal as I’m making it, but considering that I was explicitly told by security, friends, and other people around the theater that he wasn’t speaking to anyone as a part of his performance piece, it was a huge moment for me.  It was in this moment of him talking to me that I finally saw him not as a movie star, a plagiarist, a crazy media magnet, or anything else people consider him to be.  I saw Shia as exactly what he was: a person.  

I’ve had the distinct privilege of meeting and speaking to many celebrities ever since I started writing about movies.  From interviewing Edgar Wright and Nick Frost in 2013 to be personally introduced to Jake Gyllenhaal to even having a small conversation with Joseph Gordon-Levitt, I’ve met my fair share of people who are considered to be famous.  Yet every single time I met someone famous, there was this internal voice screaming “Oh my god that’s so and so!” and jumping for joy.  When I talked to Shia, this voice was barely audible.  When he spoke back, the voice was nonexistent.  The Shia who put a bag on his head that said “I Am Not Famous Anymore” or the Shia who screamed “Do It!” in front of a green screen for a good minute wasn’t here.  The Shia I met was a chill and calm man who didn’t care what other people thought of him and didn’t completely mind when random strangers who were fans of his work came to talk to him.  To be completely honest, I have never respected someone notable I met in person as much before I talked to LaBeouf.  He may be the physical representation of the term “Don’t Judge A Book By It’s Cover.”

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In the five minutes between films, I decided to get something to eat in the form of sour candy.  Not exactly the best thing to eat at 7am, but it was the cheapest thing I saw on the menu downstairs, so it had to do.  I entered the theater, candy in my hand, and a minute later Shia came to sit down.  The next film in the lineup was the first of two films I had actually intended on seeing at the event: “Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen.”  That’s right: the movie that made everybody and their mothers hate Michael Bay was one of the two movies that I actually intended on seeing at this event. levitra Who could pass up the opportunity to watch one of the biggest embarrassments of Shia LaBeouf’s career in the presence of Shia himself?  Well I couldn’t, and neither could the other people in the theater.  

During the opening of the movie, Shia kept turning around in his seat to look at the back of the theater.  Once he actually came on screen, Shia lept out of his chair, laid down in the back of the theater, and went to sleep.  I shit you not, he just went to sleep.  It was about an hour into this movie where I started to feel the effects of insomnia pour over me.  Basically imagine if you’re consciously aware you’re awake, yet everything around you feels surreal and as if you’re dreaming.  That’s the best way I can describe how I was feeling around this time.  So I decided to move towards the front of the theater with my blanket, slouch into another seat up there, and doze off myself.  I woke up during the climax of the movie and managed to catch the last 30 minutes of Michael Bay’s racist, overlong, and bombastically loud “masterpiece.”  From what I saw of the film, I didn’t really hate it as much as the majority of Planet Earth, but I will agree and say it’s a pretty bad movie.  Once the film ended, Shia arose from his slumber and went out of the theater.  Another 5 minute intermission had begun.  When he got back, the next film started: “New York, I Love You.”

In case you haven’t heard of this movie, and I wouldn’t be surprised if you haven’t, “New York, I Love You” is a movie with 10 different segments directed by 10 different directors that all take place in New York.  Shia himself was in the film for maybe two minutes, so the rest of it didn’t even feel like a “Shia LaBeouf” movie, if that makes sense.  Shia was enjoying himself a lot, and I was too from what I saw of the film.  You see, since I had my backpack on me, I decided to take out a notebook, pencil, and pencil sharpener, and sketch Shia while he was watching the movie.  This is not an easy task to perform in a dark movie theater, as the only light I had was the light coming from the screen, which varied due to the mixture of scenes that took place in the day and night.  Nevertheless, the drawing took me maybe half of the movie to do, and I have to say I am pretty proud of it.  Pretty soon this movie ended, and Shia once again was out the door and into the lobby.

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I stepped out of the lobby once again, but this time with a different motive.  Shia was at the soda dispenser directly across from the theater refilling his cup once he got back from the bathroom.  I walked up to him and told him I had drawn the picture during the film and would love for him to have it.  With a smile on his face, Shia took the picture and said “Wow man, that’s really good, thanks!  Yeah I’ll keep this!” So he folded it up and put it in his pocket.  While I had his attention, the reporter side of me came out for a brief visit.  “I gotta ask Shia, why exactly are you doing this?”  With a half smile on his face looking right at me, he said “Because I’m a weirdo, man.”  To this I responded with “Aren’t we all?” and he smiled and went back to another part of the lobby.  

I was hanging by the door for the next minute or two talking to one of the employees when I ended up chatting a little with Luke Turner, the second of three collaborators on the event.  He too went to the other parts of the lobby and I continued chatting with the employees.  It was around 11-11:30am at this time, and Shia came walking back to the theater with two boxes of Domino’s Pizza.  With a friendly sarcastic sound, I said “For me? You shouldn’t have!” To which Shia looked at me as he was walking to the theater and said “You want some?”  Surprised, I said “Well if you have extras, then sure!”  He walked into the theater, opened the top box, and started handing out the food.  He turned, saw me, and handed me the second box, to which I opened it and got a slice just before everyone else tried to get one from me.  So in short, Shia got us pizza for lunch.  If that isn’t a sign of a stand up celebrity, then I honestly don’t know what is.  Anyway, as everyone got back into their seats with their pizza, the third (not including the second half of “Wall Street”) film of my day began: “Eagle Eye.”

Once again, I didn’t see all of “Eagle Eye.”  I decided to walk out of it for a good 25-30 minutes or so to talk to the employees once again.  It was around this time that my friend who worked at the theater showed up, so he joined in on the conversation.  It wasn’t until I accidentally got one of the employees in a little of trouble for talking to me and not answering a ringing phone that I went back into the theater.  From what I saw of “Eagle Eye,” it was enjoyable.  Nothing special, but it was entertaining, nonetheless.  I left the theater maybe a minute before the movie ended so I could hold the door for Shia when he stormed out.  I did just that, and just like before he went to the bathroom and into the back room of the theater in order to not be disturbed.  The next movie was going to be my last film, so I had to do something interesting before leaving.

I was waiting around with a few people around me and saw Shia speed walking back to the theater.  I spoke up and said “Mr. LaBeouf, I have two odd favors I’d like to ask you.  The first is if I could shake your hand to thank you for doing this.”  With a stern face, and still walking mind you, he grabbed my hand and gave me a firm shake.  Then I asked my second question:  “Any chance I could take a picture with you, but with you and I doing the “Just Do It” pose?”  He then said “Nah man, I’m pretty tired, but I’ll do a selfie.”  So he got right next to me, raised his arms up, and I took the picture as quickly as I could.  As soon as he saw that my phone had taken a picture, he rushed right back into the theater before I could say thank you.  When I saw the photo, it was blurrier than I had hoped, and my face wasn’t exactly how I would have liked to have looked.  Nevertheless, though, I got myself a picture with Mr. Shia LaBeouf.  A good way to end off my communication with him for the day

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And now, it was time for the fourth, and final, film of my “#ALLMYMOVIES” experience to begin: “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.”  This was the second film that I actually intended on seeing that day, and I think the reasoning behind that is self explanatory.  Surprisingly, Shia did watch this one from start to finish.  He didn’t seem to react that much to anything happening on screen, nor did anyone else in the theater.  It was at about the 80 minute mark of the movie where the feelings of insomnia started coming back, so I decided to take yet another nap during the event.  I woke up again maybe 20 minutes later when the aliens started showing up in their CGI forms, so I caught the end of the movie.  I actually used to really like “Crystal Skull,” but it was on this viewing where I just lowered the film down to an “average” rating.  Nothing special, but nothing horrendous either.  The end of the movie, though, gave me one final moment of humor to reflect on, though.

In case you haven’t seen “Kingdom of the Crystal Skull,” spoiler alert: Shia plays Indy’s son., and his mom is Marion Ravenwood, Indy’s love interest from “Raiders of the Lost Ark” and this.  As everything wraps up, Indy and Marion get married in the presence of Jon Hurt, Jim Broadbent, Shia, and other people.  As Shia is leaving the church, the wind blows the church doors open, and with that blows Indy’s iconic fedora off of a hanger and to Shia’s foot.  As a way to “pass the torch,” Shia is about to put on the hat before Indy snatches it up, smiles at him, puts it on, and leaves the church with Marion.  Cue the credits.  What made this funny to me is that, as soon as the doors of the church blew open, Shia flew out of his seat and out the theater doors.  That was the last time I saw the bearded magician of an actor known as Shia LaBeouf in the flesh.  

Once the movie ended, I said bye to my employee friends, got a drink of water, and headed up the escalators towards daylight and a crowd maybe three times larger as it was when I had entered the theater.  People applauded as I came up, my arms held high like I was a god, and I went out, turned to everyone, and just recited the “Just Do It” speech everyone there was so familiar with.  Once that was done and I got yet another round of applause, I left the Angelika Film Center and went on my merry way back into the world of education.  And with that, my time at #ALLMYMOVIES had concluded.  

People may say I am absolutely crazy to have waited six hours in line just to see four and a half movies that starred one crazy individual who was watching them all in reverse order, and yet looking back on it I’d do it all again in a heartbeat.  Living in New York has its surplus of great opportunities, and I am so happy that I got to get this absurd yet incredible opportunity.  I might have lost some sleep, a few brain cells, and gained a couple unneeded pounds, but I have no regrets in attending #ALLMYMOVIES.  I saw Shia, got to speak to him, saw some average to bad movies, got some sleep, talked to people, and got free pizza.  Couldn’t have asked for a better day even if I had imagined it.  

I would like to take this time to personally thank Shia, Nastja Säde Rönkkö, Luke Turner, and the Angelika Film Center for holding this incredible event and giving me and the rest of the East Coast the chance to attend.  Most importantly, I’d like to thank you, the reader, for actually reading all of this.  I know this was a long article, but it means the world that you actually took the time to rejoin my experience of the event.  And with that, I leave you all with the following bit of advice: If you ever have the opportunity to do something crazy and awesome, do what Shia LaBeouf screamed about for over a minute and “Just Do It! Make, Your Dreams, Come True!”

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