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Cinema of unease

Sep 28, 2016 Film & TV

Going to the movies comes a poor second to binge-watching television at home.

I can’t remember how I was conned into watching Saw at a Queen St cinema years ago, but I vividly remember a heavy-breathing guy who sat a few seats to the left of me.

He was alone. He was making weird noises. He was creeping me out more than the film itself. I started wondering, do I need to fight this guy? Turns out I didn’t, but it was one of the many times I’ve thought, “Man, fuck going to the movies.”

Another time, a woman sat next to me and sobbed loudly throughout the entire film. It wasn’t even that sad.

I am a movie-going Grinch. I don’t care about the big screen or the surround sound. I don’t even really enjoy watching movies in the dark.

I realised this especially during the recent film festival. Friends excitedly booked multiple tickets, and cancelled all other social plans during those two weeks.

I feigned interest while making half-hearted attempts at reading the programme, and then shrugged when all the tickets sold out. I guess I just don’t like leaving the house to pay for something I could do at home.

I don’t like sitting in an uncomfortable seat for a couple of hours, with my legs cramped, needing to take a piss for half the movie. I don’t like paying $7 for a frozen coke when I can get one for $1 at McDonald’s.

I don’t care about the big screen. I don’t even really enjoy watching movies in the dark.

I do weird things like make note of the nearest exit should a fire break out or a crazed gunman burst in. I hate that movies are now unnecessarily 3D, and I’m always cold. These are not things I think about when I’m bingeing Gilmore Girls at home, in bed, on Netflix.

Perhaps it’s because I was traumatised when I got lost at the movies when I was a kid, and sat by myself, scared shitless, during Jurassic Park. Or maybe it’s because I enjoy watching TV series more. Two hours at the movies seems too much of an ask. But give me a great show like The Wire or Mad Men and I can watch transfixed for eight hours straight.

Of course, there have been times when I have left a movie with all my senses battered, excited, breathless and dying to talk about what I’ve just seen. Oldboy and The Raid I needed to dissect and relive immediately, my words tumbling out, head bursting. I can’t imagine having seen them any other way than on the big screen.

Probably one of the reasons Closer is one of my favourite films is that I first experienced it at the movies. And I did get around to seeing one film at the film fest — The Handmaiden — and I’d tell everyone to see it at the movies if you can; that’s the only way to do it justice.

But mostly, I leave the theatre with overpriced popcorn crumbs and melted chocolate down my top thinking, “That was okay, but I should have just stayed home and rewatched The Wire for the third time.”

Illustration by Anna Crichton for Metro.


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