Thursday, February 6, 2014
Riske Business: Adam and Patrick on Going to the Movies
Adam: Patrick, you and I both enjoy going to the movies.
Patrick: I do like going to the movies! I wish I was there right now.
(Patrick leaves and goes to the movies and we pick up the discussion two days later)
Adam: I personally enjoy it so much that I often go even if there's nothing to see (I’m looking at you Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones). That being said, I am stressed out nearly every time I go to one because I can't concentrate until everyone in the theater is seated. When someone comes in and is looking for a seat, I get very nervous.
Is there something that stresses you out most when seeing a movie in a theater?
Enemies Closer and was completely by myself (on opening day) until the trailers started, at which point a guy came in and sat DIRECTLY BEHIND ME. In an otherwise 100% empty theater. That stressed me out.
Adam: That bag really took Enemies Closer literally. Why would he sit right behind you? Is he socially oblivious? Just separated from his mother's womb? If that happened to me, I would have to get up and move seats. Maybe even leave the auditorium and see a different movie.
Patrick: I know everyone is lamenting the death of the moviegoing experience thanks to tweeting and texting and rude audiences and the general breakdown of the social contract, but I'm not ready to give up yet. I'll try and go in the mornings when it's less crowded and the audience is a little older or try to find other creative ways to get around the things that bother me, but I can't NOT go to the movies. As Joe Dante once said "Movies are my religion, and I'm going to church."
Adam: I find myself going to more movies on the weekends in the morning than I have before for the reason you state -- people seem to know how to behave then. People going to a brunch afterwards are in a great mood and I want to exploit their fine temperament to my own benefit.
I saw Her in one of those theaters, and it's a SUPER quiet movie, and there were people behind me arguing about their bill while Leif was trying to get all up on his OS. Not cool, upscale patrons!
The Master in 70MM and although I could have raised a card to get an usher to come remove them, I didn't want to be "that guy." Your choices suck: either be a tattle-tale or put up with rude people. At least in the case of the first daters, the conversation was funny. They are going to get beat senseless by reality when they get out of college. The guy was talking about how he was going to make coin through "theoretical philosophy" and the girl wanted to get a degree in "languages," but she wasn't sure which ones.
Patrick: Could that girl get a degree in Na'avi? Because I'm hiring. Seriously, though, I hope they get married and have a happy life together. On the streets. In Portland.
Patrick: I'm sure this is a different conversation, but part of the rise of those special dine-in theaters (or whatever they're called..."premium?") is combatting the home entertainment experience, with tens of thousands of options and high def TVs and home theaters. It's the same thing we saw in the '50s when TV showed up and again in the '80s when cable and VHS started competing with theaters. So now theaters serve food and you can sit in recliners so that...it can be more like we're at home?
But I also wonder if part of it is because we're totally overstimulated all the time. Everyone has to be entertained every second. So the fact that we're eating and there just happens to be a movie on is perfect. It's ALMOST enough to keep us busy. Once those same theaters add a "texting" section, everything will be complete -- until that's no longer enough, either, and we have to think of yet another thing to detract from the actual moviegoing experience and ruin it further.
Adam: My worst nightmare is a theater that has a main screen with a social media area (they'll called it "The Quad" or something communal-sounding) and everyone can read their friends' funny comments or see instagram pics while the movie plays on the 9" monitor on the back of the seat in front of you like on an airplane. I really don't think it's all that far away.
How do you feel about going to movies alone? What was your first solo moviegoing experience?
Adam: I didn't go to my first movie alone until I was 18. I'll remember it forever, because I was on winter break from my freshman year in college and none of my friends knew what Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon was. I wanted to go on a Monday and didn't because I was too embarrassed to go alone. I ended up going the next day and was nervous about the experience until I noticed a few others in the theater that were also alone – only half were prostitutes. Shortly thereafter, I saw Traffic alone and didn't care. Nowadays, I go with people about half the time and by myself half the time -- alone, yet not alone. The flexibility is the best part of it, but I always have my 1-2 days a year where I remind myself of the ending to About a Boy (another movie I saw alone) – “No man is an island.”
I want to get positive now and figure out why we both love going to the movies so much. I really like stadium seating. I'm a fan of IMAX 3D for "bad" movies (one of the reasons I rushed out to see Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters, only to learn it was a good movie). I enjoy the new trend of studios screening movies at 8pm or 9pm the Thursday before the release date as opposed to midnight shows or waiting an extra day. I love theater hopping and watching 20 minutes of a movie I like instead of sitting through pre-shows or trailers in some cases. I like AMC Stubs cards. I love repertory theaters like the Music Box that have wonderful special events (The Massacre, for example) and filmmaker Q&A’s. I appreciate going to old movies and figuring out who I’d want to snog if I were around in 1954. I dig the Coke Freestyle machines in some theaters that allow me to have Vanilla Barq's. I like football and porno and books about war…..
Adam: It would be so boss if N&C played The Croods on the soda machine. Mine only plays Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom. Tried so many times to finish that movie, but there's always someone behind me that wants Raspberry Seagram's Ginger Ale. One time it was Idris Elba himself and he was all like "Spoiler alert - He cancels the apocalypse. I'm thirsty, mate."
Patrick: I was at one of those Mandela Coke machines. It filled me with guilt and bummed me out and I couldn't even finish my Wisconsin Mac n' Cheese. I struggle, is what I'm saying.
Adam: What are some aspects of going to a theater that you like? Is it something in the actual experience? Is it romanticizing of the idea?
Patrick: I can't pinpoint exactly why I love it, nor when it started. As far back as I can remember, all I wanted was to go to movies. Even with so many modern annoyances, I still love everything about it. I love multiplexes that bring more variety (in theory) and let me see different kinds of movies (though I do admit that I miss the giant one or two screen theaters). I love stadium seating. I love trailers, even when I've seen them a bunch already (except not you, Lone Survivor infomercial). I love the community of it. As much as other audience members can be the bane of my existence, I love hearing them react to a comedy or gasp during a horror movie. Many of my favorite moviegoing memories involve big, rowdy crowd reactions. People stood up and cheered during the midnight show of Independence Day, and I LOVED IT. It was so much fun seeing people behave so ridiculously and letting myself be ridiculous with them.
I miss 35mm. I romanticize that shit, and there's something that feels so much more special about a repertory theater showing something in 35 because it means they GOT A COPY. Someone had to track it down. Someone had to ship it there. Someone got to take it out of a box and load it onto the projector. Digital doesn't have that same coolness, even if it rarely bothers me when I'm watching it. And I wish some theaters around here would offer different kinds of experiences -- double features, special screenings, that sort of thing. I know we're never going to have anything like the New Beverly in Chicago (and to be honest, I would probably rarely get there to see anything -- at least, not until my kids are grown, at which point we won't go to theaters but instead have hundreds of remakes and reboots beamed directly into our space brains), but I'm jealous of everyone out in L.A. for moviegoing opportunities they get. As movie fans, I never want us to take the experience for granted.
What's your dream double feature? Where would it screen and what snacks or food would you eat? Who would you invite?
Star Trek Into Darkness/World War Z just because it was a double feature (and I never want to see World War Z ever again). Same with Spider-Man and Men in Black II. Almost went to that but ended up at One Hour Photo. Great job, 2002 version of me.
My dream double feature will definitely surprise you. I want to repeat an experience I had going with my dad when I was 7 years old to the late Town & Country mall theaters to see a double feature of Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade and Star Trek V: The Final Frontier. I would get a bag of Cineplex Odeon corn and a Coke. I have always remembered and romanticized that experience because it was like a perfect storm of awesome. We had seen Last Crusade before and knew it was a lot of fun. I was bothering my dad all summer about taking me to Star Trek V and he finally relented. If I could repeat that experience, I think it would be unspeakably badass.
Patrick: I almost went to that same Star Trek/World War Z double feature just because it existed, and I didn't like either of those movies. That second-run theater by my house growing up used to have double features every couple of months, so you got two movies for $1.50. Those were the best Sunday afternoons of my life. There was also a refill on a large popcorn and soda, so you were SET for both movies. How else could I have seen Without a Clue and High Spirits? Or The Great Outdoors and Big Business? My favorite was UHF and Shag: The Movie, which I saw mostly because it was attached to UHF and which I ended up loving. The combination of the early '60s PLUS the Cates/Fonda/Gish trifecta was more than my 12-year old heart could stand. My friends used to make fun of me for loving "girl" movies. We're not friends anymore.
Patrick: I couldn't possibly pick a dream double bill, which is totally unfair because I asked you to do it. That UHF/Shag one WAS pretty sweet. The Music Box in Chicago did a double feature of Kill Bill and Grindhouse a year or so ago and I wasn't able to go, but that would really be something. That's like four movies.
Adam: I change my answer to the double feature question. Showgirls and Jade. Alone with a bag of ring pops.
What is the most tragic example of an R-rated movie you were denied entry to because you were under 17 at the time?
Patrick: I don't think I was ever denied entrance to an R-rated movie, because I had a beard at age 13. Actually, we always made sure that adults would buy the tickets and then we would just explain that we were meeting said adult inside the theater. I was almost denied entrance to Falling Down, which would have crushed me because I had walked many miles to get there. I still don't know why I did that. I guess I just really identified with Michael Douglas's white, middle-class rage as a pre-teen. The system had really chewed me up and spit me out, and I wanted my McDonald's breakfast at 10:31. Testify, D-FENS.
Adam: I wish I had your charmed childhood where you always got into R-rated movies. I didn't get into Tales From the Crypt: Demon Knight, Supercop, Rumble in the Bronx (the world did not want me to meet Jackie Chan) and Saving Private Ryan just to name a few. I even got carded when I bought Drive on Blu-ray last year at Best Buy. My response was "I'm almost bald."
Your turn, lovely readers! What do you think about the moviegoing experience in general? What do you like most about it and what stresses you out?