Monday, February 20, 2006

"Not That There's Anything Wrong with That"

Saw Brokeback this weekend – and I am outraged.

Well, not at the film – I thought it was a thought provoking pastoral tale of angst-ridden love primarily set in the 60’s and 70’s. What I am a bit miffed at is that I could barely hear the first half of the movie over the constant munching, talking, paper-rattling and baby-crying that goes on at today’s movie theatres. Maybe I’m a bit thin-skinned about this but I do think this is the primary reason people may be “staying away” from the theatres (if you actually believe that is true - that's another post). Now if it’s a big action flick like Mission Impossible 14 maybe I can put up with somebody shaking the ice in their soda cup throughout the entire movie. But when it is relatively a quiet film, like Brokeback, well this behavior borders on the unruly.

The previous weekend we saw “Good Night and Good Luck” – another quiet film – so quiet I could hear the movie next door plain as day. Deb and I like to sit in about the fourth row back in the middle – this means generally no one in back of us (you know the last row before the walkway that separates the nosebleeds from us) and a lot of times no one in front of us – seems that most people do not like to sit that close. Well, at the last minute a couple comes and sits in front of us – which is not big deal, except that the guy has a big head and well….

What was interesting is that they are a part of a disturbing trend to me – and that is of the movie picnicker’s. I mean they had every food group that could be imagined: chips, sodas, water, candies, popcorn – and Deborah swears they had grilled Rueben sandwiches or shish-kabobs down there. This menu also entails a lot of movement and thrashing around in front of us while Edgar R. Murrow and his producer are trying to singlehandedly take down McCarthy. I wanted to say “Excuse me I don’t think this is how George Clooney imagined this movie going experience.” And yeah I could hear the space aliens attack in the movie next door.

Thankfully I got through that movie without making a citizen’s arrest. At Brokeback we are sitting in the same place when a couple again comes in at the last minute and shares our row – no big deal, at least they’re not in front of us. Now this movie is fairly slow and it starts out even slower – so you really need to soak in the solitary world that Ang Lee so convincingly conveys on screen to really see how this romance started.

But that’s pretty hard when you have popcorn lady over here to my left munching away (as we are visually presented majestic mountain vistas and canyons and lakes) and shuffling around making her own space over there. And then she’s got this move – the “I’ll just shake this three-pound bag of popcorn to – I dunno – move it around some more” – what is all of this shaking about? Seven times during the movie - out comes the bag – the seemingly endless supply of popcorn and the shake (well at least I can’t hear the movie next door over the shake). I just wanted to say, “Excuse me miss, but I just can’t hear Heath mutter that well over all of this...shaking.”

Then there is a new item that has just been introduced at theatres (or they were smuggled in but it seemed like a lot of them) soda in cans which means at any time of the movie – “metal scraping” and then “pop”! Sounded like a tailgate party to me. What marketing genius came up with this one?

And I haven’t even told you about the crying baby. “Hey Margaret – let’s go take our three-month old child to see Brokeback Mountain!” “Okay – and I’ll bring the beers with the poptops. And don’t forget the Ruebens!” That baby was in and out of that theater about four times.

As for the movie - it was good. In the early goings on I kept bracing for the gratuitous sex scene but it wasn’t that bad, but the anticipation was. And frankly I couldn’t pay attention because of popcorn lady anyway. As the mass eating died off toward the middle of the movie I was taken with the juxtaposition of these guys hanging out in a great natural setting and then, at least in Heath’s case, going back to a life of significant squalor. I enjoyed the rural depiction of this Wyoming setting and the simple life of that town. Much of it reminded me of the untold stories suggested by painter Andrew Wyeth in his stark rural masterpieces. Ang Lee shot a terrific looking film which shows both the magnificent and the plain. And the lovelorn.

The movie next door sounded good, too.


Tink said...

This is why I only go to theaters that are fit to be condemned. Hoop and I are the only people crazy enough to attend. The seats may be caving it. The popcorn may be stale. But at least there's no one around to make any noise!

Rock said...

Ok - so maybe I'm not crazy - this does affect all movie goers?

And when did it become popular to gorge one's self at the movies? And who can afford it?

DebbieDoesLife said...

Who can afford to gorge themselves at the theater??? I am hitting matinees AND smuggling in my own Skittles usually.

I totally feel your pain though. The last time we went to an evening showing (War of the Worlds), on a Saturday night it looked like a gang war was going to bust out. When someone's cell phone rang during the movie, one of the rapper's yelled, "Shut the Fuck Up!". My husband and I don't usually yell stuff like that out so we were a little wide-eyed to say the least.

We are back to renting flicks.

Rock said...

Debbie - that is friggin' hilarious. I smuggle my own large water in - I used to pimp-out on the gummie-bears but now I'm on the down-low.

Don't go being a playuh-hatuh yo.

The Gradual Gardener said...

There used to be a great theater here, called The Pub & Cinema. It only cost $3 to get in (yeah, yeah, I'm dating myself I know), and you sat in real chairs that you could move around and group together. The floor was carpeted, and not sticky. They served real food (hot meals) and alcoholic beverages, which is where they made their money. Hubby and I never got anything to eat or drink, so it was a cheap date for us. Because of the alcohol you didn't get kids in there, so it was pretty quiet. It showed second-run movies, and now those just go to video, which is probably why it closed. That, and the no kids thing. I guess teenagers are the big spenders now.

These days I only go to the theater for movies like Lord of the Rings or Harry Potter...the kind you really have to see on the big screen. The rest I wait and rent.

Oh, and by the way, I love Andrew Wyeth!

Brooke said...

I also saw Brokeback this weekend. Went to an "arthouse" in the gay district. Only sound there was sniffling.

Arabella said...

See, there should be fines issued for this kind of loud behavior.
This is why movie theater attendance is way down.

Rock said...

Yeah - thank you gals.

You know I was never one of those "let's go to the movies people because to me I rather wait until its out on cable and relax type of deal - but Deb likes it and in LA its sort of fun. But man -every time I have to steall myself as to what debauchery may occur.

Dan said...

There is actually a theatre in Manhattan where they won't put ice in the sodas, so the drink makes less noise, except when you sip from the bottom of the soda, and then you get looks that could kill.

I have a friend who actually makes a running commentary of a film in his normal speaking voice. I really don't like to sit near him.

I guess it does not mean anything anymore to sit in a crowd to watch a movie. Our home entertainment systems provides so much fulfillment that can't be matched at the theatre.

I prefer to wait awhile before I see a new movie because in a multiplex, there is always a new movie, so the older movies have a smaller audience spread through all of them.