Sunday, November 14, 2010
Roll The Credits
I’ve been a film addict ever since I saw “The Men Who Made the Movies” on PBS nearly 40 years ago.
I can’t begin to guess how many hours—years—of my life I’ve spent in movie theaters. I like to think I have a variety of interests, but there’s something about film that just gets hold of me.
I’ve always loved those few seconds when the lights go dim and the movie is just about to start. There's no drug in the world that can match that feeling of anticipation.
When I was in high school and college, I used to plot my weekends around the movies. I was either going to see the latest foreign flick, or catching a classic at revival houses like the Elgin Theater or Carnegie Hall Cinema.
Those theaters are gone now, thanks largely to VCRs and DVD players, and there are very few places that show old films—“retrospective cinemas,” as one of my film teachers called them in college--with a straight face no less.
And yet as I write this, I am struggling to remember the last time I actually went to the movies. I see films every weekend—probably too many--thanks to Netflix, the Sundance Channel, IFC, and Turner Movie Classics.
But as far as the last time I bought a ticket at the box office, handed it over to an usher, and sat down in an honest-to-God theater—I couldn't tell you.
This is unheard of for me. I am so used to reaching into that little change pocket in my jeans on a Sunday morning and pulling out the stub from the movie I saw the night before. But that hasn’t happened in a long, long time.
This isn’t entirely my fault. First of all, most movies just aren’t that good. Mindless explosions, lame plots, abysmal acting, sequels to sequels and worthless remakes don’t motivate me to get out of the house.
Tickets cost too damn much and now the bedbug scare in New York really makes theaters particularly unattractive.
But then you take these issues and factor in the knuckle-dragging morons who go to the movies nowadays—the ones who talk back to the screen, talk to each other, or talk to their imaginary friends from the coming attractions right until the ending credits and you have some of the best advertising for a DVD player that I’ve ever seen.
I love movies and I refuse to sit among people who don’t.
I don’t want to be around peabrains who are texting, who think that the theater is an extension of their living room, and who are genuinely stunned, shocked and surprised when you tell them to kindly shut their pieholes and watch the goddamn movie—you know, that thing on the big screen.
Honestly, people, it’s not like we’re asking for too much here. Just stop talking for about 90 minutes, that’s all. I’m sure your brilliant observations and scintillating conversation will keep until you get outside.
I remember going to see Apocalypse Now at a theater in Flatbush and while Robert Duvall was enjoying the smell of napalm in the morning, two guys a few rows down from me were all set to kill each other.
One had apparently told the other to shut up, prompting the first loser to jump to his feet and shout “Let’s go!”—as in “let’s hit each other in the head repeatedly and make total asses of ourselves in public.”
The horror, the horror...
The only grief I have to put up with at home is when some schmuck parks near my house and blasts his car stereo or revs his engine in some vehicular version of the great ape’s chest-thumping.
This usually happens at a critical time in the flick, but I can always rewind and watch the scene again when the idiot finally moves on. I don't have to pay inflated prices for soda or popcorn and I can go to the bathroom whenever I want without having to climb over half-a-dozen irate people in the dark.
Admittedly there are some films that should be seen in a theater. I truly regret not seeing Avatar in 3D, even when it came around for a second run. I enjoyed it so much, it’s a shame I didn’t see that movie in its original format.
Also, it can be fun to say you’ve seen the hot new movie of the day. Even though DVDs seem to be coming out faster and faster, the film is old news by the time it comes to me, having been replaced by the latest hot movie of the day. Still that’s not enough to get me to stand on line for God knows how long.
I haven’t written off theaters entirely and I know that sooner or later there will be some incredible flick coming out that I'll want to see on the wide screen. But for right now, there is really is no place like home.