Wednesday, June 1, 2016

The new movie experience

One of many changes: We don't go to movies here anymore.

The movie Love & Friendship, based on Jane Austen's novel Lady Susan, was good, but getting to it was painful.
Going to the movies used to mean: Driving to a theatre like the Ridge; lining up to buy tickets (with cash); going into a lobby where the chief feature was the buttery-smelling popcorn machine; choosing seats (moving if a tall guy sat in front of you); watching a couple of trailers, then settling in for the feature. This week, after a long hiatus from all things Hollywood, John and I had the new movie experience. Before we left the house for the Fifth Avenue cinema (the Ridge is condos now), John joked that he had entered the new world by buying our tickets and choosing our seats online. No more rushing into the theatre to get the coveted middle of the middle row -- our seats were reserved! At the cinema, we had our self-printed tickets scanned in -- no waiting in line for others to ponder their movie choices and pay. John was surprised by other innovations (I had been to a movie within the last year, so knew about them). There was a restaurant inside the lobby! You could buy booze! But when we went into the theatre, we realized there had been a tragic mistake. In choosing our seats, John had mistaken the front of the theatre for the back. "It's as if they put North at the bottom of the map instead of South," he said of the online theatre layout. Instead of three rows from the back of the theatre, we were three rows from the front! If it had been a play, we could have counted nostril-hairs. We tried to change seats, but every one except a few singles in odd spots had been reserved by all the other people who had also entered the new world.

 Then the real trouble started. We didn't know that going into a theatre 20 minutes early is a mistake; an invitation to be blasted with an endless lineup of commercials for many, many things you do not want. When we finally got to 8 p.m. -- the supposed starting time -- our spirits sank. It wasn't time for the movie; it was time for the trailers! The sound was pumped up to ear-splitting levels; you could feel it vibrate in your breast-bone. These future movies all seemed to involve beautiful young women, all seductive and floaty at the start, undergoing horrific trials and ending up in piles of reddish gore. I don't like suspense, I don't like gore. I shut my eyes tight; I plugged my ears tighter -- it was like being under attack. John seemed to be in a similar bodily position. So, 20 minutes of  commercials; 15 minutes of assault -- 35 minutes of pain before the movie even began. When it did -- Love & Friendship, based on Jane Austen's novel Lady Susan -- it was such a shift from what we had just been through that it seemed surreal. It was a good movie, funny and well-made, but it may be our last. If we are ever lured back, we have a strategy. We will know the front from the back of the theatre and reserve accordingly, but the seats will be on the aisle. Fifteen minutes after the scheduled start time, we will pop into those seats. We will make the new movie experience as close to the old as possible.

1 comment:

  1. Exactly why we rarely go to movies anymore. We were thinking of braving 5th Street Cinemas to see this ourselves but I think we'll catch it on iTunes. Since moving to Vancouver we have enjoyed going to International Villages to see the odd movie since there is free parking and some interesting shops....and now Catfe! We'd do a matinee so no lineups or problems getting a seat, then usually a browse around Chinatown and dinner in an old time Chinese restaurant with the bar-b-q duck and pork in the window. We'd have some of that and hot and sour soup accompanied by free tea for little more than a couple of fancy coffees. But now Pender Street is a mess so we probably won't be doing that for a while.