Wednesday, January 23, 2013
There’s plenty to be pissed off about in the current theatrical experience. I’m not even going to get into parking, cost of tickets, food and all that stuff. The people at theaters can be just miserable, and I think that's what keeps most people away. Even decent, civilized people in their normal lives seem to turn into complete assholes in the theater at times. Who else but a total schmuck will sit behind you in an open 500 seat auditorium? Why would anyone not think that they are bothering the person in front of them by kicking their seat or getting up in the middle of a movie and hitting people in the head with their coat or purse? I could go on, but you get the point.
So, why should you still go? It’s not for the reasons that theater owners would tell you. You could give me High Frame Rate, 3D, D-Box Motion Seats (which are a joke, but that’s for another column) all day long and it’s all just vajazzling. Really. That’s all it is. IMAX is neat, but is it better than a 70mm presentation? To those who have seen or remember 70mm, the answer is no. Cut all that nonsense and stick with traditional 2D and film when you can.
But I want to be the silver linings guy. With 2013 just underway, I suggest reminding yourself of these general movie-going philosophies to see you through the dark days:
The Communal Experience: Some movies are just better in a theater -- namely comedies, action and horror movies. If a movie is good, most people will shut up. It’s because they realize what’s happening on the screen is more interesting than any chit-chat or texting that would otherwise preoccupy them.
When Depressed About the Movie Going Experience, Go to a Repertory Theater: It’s a classic palette cleanse in all ways, shapes and forms. Familiarize yourself with the ones in your town and try them out. Whenever I have an awful experience at AMC, for example, I visit Chicago’s Music Box, Portage or Patio theaters. Take a friend with you that has never been to an old theater and watch them marvel at the architecture and the character of the old lobbies and auditoriums. Repertory theaters are also great for washing the bad taste of a mediocre run of new releases from your mind, as these alternative theaters often show classics, cult movies and independents that you otherwise might not have sought out. The patrons and owners of these theaters normally care a lot about you enjoying the experience, and their manners follow suit.
Catch Yourself Being Surprised: This is the second best type of movie-going experience. I’ll give you an example: I had zero interest in seeing Life of Pi when I saw the trailer. I even emailed Patrick about it after its release, writing how much the movie looked like homework. On a lark one night, I went and was pleasantly surprised throughout. At minimum, it felt a lot like Cast Away, a movie that I love. Life of Pi got me thinking about themes and ideas that I rarely tap into. Oddly enough, I was looking forward to the movie being over -- just so I could tell people that I was wrong and it was NOT a chore, but instead a wonderful trip to the movies. Frequent movie goers probably have five to 10 of these surprises each year.
Chase Your Best Movie of the Year: If for no other reason, this is why I go to the movies. I am looking for that indescribable euphoric buzz where I'm sitting in a theater and thinking…then knowing...that I am watching the best movie I have seen all year. It’s the movie that makes you sit upright and lean forward, the one that makes you check your watch and curse the Movie Gods that it will soon be over, the one that cements a permanent grin on your face. After the movie is over, you carry it with you like a parent and are protective of who you recommend it to. In 2012, that movie for me was Silver Linings Playbook, but I got that feeling earlier in the year when I saw Moonrise Kingdom. Did I mention 2012 was a terrific year for movies? I love that I can look forward to this feeling once a year. In a great year? Maybe twice.
Your turn! Why do you keep going to the theaters to see movies?