Friday, February 23, 2007

It’s a Theater—Not Your Living Room

New Reviews at
The Astronaut Farmer
Ghost Rider

This week started out on a maddening note. We had our choice of three screenings on Tuesday night (not exactly brilliant planning, if you ask me, since it means that the majority of us will only cover one of the three), and most of us chose the Joel Schumacher/Jim Carrey thriller, The Number 23. Several of us got there at the same time, so we chose to sit in the balcony.

All I can say is that I should have known. I should have known that the two girls seated behind us were going to be trouble—because before the movie started, one of their friends reprimanded them for being so loud that he could hear every word of their conversation at the other end of the row. I should have gotten up and left then—because it would have saved me an hour and a half of rage.

It didn’t help that I was already pretty beat. We’d had a busy weekend, followed by a holiday on Monday, which we’d used to give the house a thorough cleaning. That meant that I had twice as much work to do on Tuesday—and about a quarter of the motivation. It didn’t help that last week’s blizzard had turned into this week’s flood. It was gray and rainy, and I would have liked to be home taking a nap. But I was there, ready to do my job—and I was actually looking forward to the movie.

Once it started, however—you know, the time when most moviegoers settle in and pay attention to the movie—the girls behind us refused to shut up. It didn’t help that they were a couple of seats apart, so they had to yell around their friends (and over the top of the movie) to be heard. At one point, the one at our left made some obnoxious comment about the movie, to which the one on the right replied with a laugh, “Shut up!” One of the guys muttered, “Exactly.”

Instead of paying close attention to the movie, we were forced to spend much of our time turning around and glancing up at the one on the left, who was by far the louder and more persistent of the two. We all did it, hoping she would take the hint and shut up already. Because here we were, trying to do our jobs, with some idiot behind us, making it difficult to think, much less pay attention to the movie. I don’t go with her to her job and stand behind her and yell all day, and I’d appreciate if she didn’t do it to me.

Finally, she announced just as loudly, “Now people are turning around and looking at me.” Even her friends took the hint then and tried to get her to shut up, which she did for approximately two minutes—during which time the man in front of us, who had spent much of the movie having a muttered conversation, got a little louder. By the time it was over, I felt a little bit insane. And homicidal. And it had nothing to do with the movie.

We’ve often wondered how, exactly, we can handle idiots like the girl behind us—people who don’t seem to care that other people are trying to pay attention. People who just go on having conversations with their friends—whether they’re three seats down or they’re at home, text-messaging back, causing the person in the seat ahead of you to open her cell phone every 30 seconds, blinding you by the frequent flashes of light. They ruin the evening for everyone else around them—yet if you politely ask them to stop, you’re the one who’s rude. It would be nice if, instead, people just considered those around them. If you don’t feel like seeing a movie, stay home. If you want to talk to your friend, take her out for coffee. And if you don’t like the movie, just leave. Do not test the patience of the film critics who may be seated around you—for their patience is wearing thin, and it’s only a matter of time until one of them snaps. (For a brilliant visual depiction of our experience on Tuesday night, see this little movie.)

I’m strong enough to admit that Tuesday night’s fiasco burnt me out a bit. So fortunately, Wednesday night’s screenings weren’t critical. There were three scheduled for Wednesday night: one that I’d already seen and two that have later screenings. Pride, for instance, is screening five more times before it’s released—so I figure I’ve got plenty of time to see it. Instead, I went to my husband’s hockey game. Unlike the Blue Jackets, my husband’s Wednesday night league team is having a winning season. So much so, in fact, that it’s not really all that exciting to watch (Wednesday night, the final score was 10-3), but even if there happened to be someone sitting behind me, yammering through the whole game (which there wasn’t—in fact, I was the only spectator), it would have been okay.

Then came Thursday night. Reno 911!: Miami. Did I want to see it? No. Did I think I probably should see it? Yes. Was it likely to make my head explode? Definitely. So I skipped it. Perhaps that means I’m not all that devoted to my job after all. But how many bad movies have I seen lately? I mean, really. I drove through a snowstorm to see Norbit. I deserve a night off. So I took one. So sue me. I plan on having a few strong drinks this weekend—so I should be back to normal next week.


Anonymous Neil said...

Ugh... This reminds me of the Dreamgirls screening at the end of December. I remember these two ladies sitting behind us randomly letting out an "Oh... my... god..." and a "Oh no he didn't" ever 10 minutes. During Dreamgirls, of all films!

Peering down the rest of the press row, I could see some people barely containing the urge to turn around and say something. Those are the moments that make me think, "You know, we should really have more day time screenings." Despite the fact that I be loath getting up early and driving across town.

6:30 PM  

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