Went to the movies yesterday afternoon. Saw Million Dollar Baby. Excellent Oscar-deserving film and for once, quite a pleasant theater experience. I went on my own which I really enjoy doing. Firstly, I get to sit wherever I want, which is either on the separate aisle of seats to the far left or right side or at the very end of a row, preferably at the back of the theater where no-one can kick my seat or rest their feet between the arms. Erik prefers the more conventional moviegoers idea of sitting in the middle where you can get a decent view, but he humors me. Secondly, I don?t have to talk to anyone. It?s one of the few times when I can be out doing something but not have to see or interact with anyone else. I very rarely talk once inside the theater. I like to sit in the darkness and watch the screen. I don?t care that much for the movie previews but I don?t feel the need to comment on them, good or bad. There was the once when I laughed at the gung-ho promo for Pearl Harbour and made some loud sarcastic comment about America winning the war for Britain, but I feel I was justified. As I was when I questioned whether Robin Williams would ever make a decent move (again?) during the preview for the dire Patch Adams. But apart from those, I keep my mouth shut.
The good thing about yesterday?s movie outing was the timing. I went to the 3.45 showing which meant I got in for $6, though why I paid at all when no-one ever checks my ticket at that theater is a surprise, given my generally dishonest nature. Also, at that time the audience was quite sparse. And age-wise more middle-aged going on old than teenage and early 20?s cocky. I found it interesting the way they clustered, the majority sat within a range of about 4 rows, slightly left of center. Being on the back row, last seat on the right, this was perfect for me. I don?t understand why people would choose to be near each other in a movie theater. I become obsessed with noise and need to be far far away from any potential chatter or popcorn/candy/coke slurping activities. Also, any coughing, sneezing, nose-blowing or throat clearing. Most movie theaters sound like a sanitorium. I wonder, do people wake up in the morning with a really bad throat or a heavy cold and say to themselves, this would be a great day for a movie. And once everyone’s in there, it?s like throw-up syndrome – one person starts and then the rest catch on and this little chain of coughs begins. If you really need to cough, then cough, but before that third time, ask yourself if it?s really necessary. And if it is, then go off to the bathrooms and have a jolly good hack. Get it out of your system.
Being an older audience had its pros and cons. There were no cell phones going off, no silly giggling or inane chatter, no noisy fistfuls of popcorn, no straw slurpings and not even any crackly Werthers Originals candy unwrappings. But there was some interaction. I?m not sure what age you have to be when you decide that watching TV or a movie is an interactive experience but there were definitely a few that had reached that point. It wasn?t that they weren?t paying attention and having to ask about characters or plot points. Quite the reverse, they were a little too absorbed. Yes, the boxing scenes were violent and bloody but a loud and deliberate intake of breath was not necessary. Nor was a tut-tut when the dirty fighter knocked Hilary Swank out cold. And while there were some humorous moments, they were drawn from the characters and had depth, they weren?t sufficiently hilarious to warrant that much laughter. At least wasn?t a round of applause at the end or shouts of ?bravo? which may well be the subject of an entirely separate piece about standing ovations during live theater performances.
As usual, I?ve wound up sounding a lot grumpier than I anticipated. This was meant to be a piece about how much better this movie experience was. Because it really was. In fact until I install my own private viewing theater or can afford to rent a cinema for myself, it may be one of the best I?ve had. At least as an adult.*
*Best ever was Chittty Chitty Bang Bang matinee at the Cottage Road cinema in Headingley, Yorkshire in 1972. There was a cliffhanger interval at just the point when Chitty goes over the cliff and plummets towards the sea. There was just enough time to pee, buy a choc-ice and get back to your seat. Perfect.