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.