CineMathematics or CinemaThematics. Your choice

Sunday, July 29, 2007

An Open Letter to the Elderly Couple Who Sat Next To Me Last Night

Dear Sir and Madam,

I know you don't know me, but I sat next to you last night during the showing at the Harvard Film Archive of Cronos. I'm sorry if I sound presumptuous, but I hate you. You are the epitome of the film enthusiast I hope never to be when I reach your age. There are a few reasons for this, which I hope will clarify my disdain for you and help to be a better filmgoer in the future.

Your bitter tirade to the young couple who sat a few rows behind us during the film was completely uncalled for and extremely rude. In fact, I doubt your argument made any sense at all. To yell at someone for eating food at a movie is unfair to both the person eating and to the film.

First of all, I would understand your anger if we were watching, say, Schindler's List or something else that deserved solemn attention. However, the film we were watching was a film about drug abuse disguised as a film about vampirism. Certainly Guillermo del Toro would have no objection to someone enjoying his film and bringing candy to the theater. Sure, I don't like it when people eat their food at the theater noisily, but that's what comes with the theatrical experience when you're watching a film like Cronos. In fact, to some extent, it adds to the charm. The knowledge that other people are there with you in the dark adds another level of excitement to a good movie.

Though the screening was in an academic building, I highly doubt your claim that food and drink were prohibited in the screening room. After all, what purpose would the vending machines outside serve if they could not be eaten in the theater? And even if it was forbidden, what problem would you have with two people eating in the theater? Was it really so loud that it detracted from your experience of the film?

Now I like to think I respect the movies. I try to get out to the theater whenever I can, and believe in the power of film to change me for the better. I try not to talk during movies, but I firmly believe that some movies are there purely for enjoyment. Yelling at a man for bringing food into Cronos is as bad as yelling at someone for yelling at The Rocky Horror Picture Show. It's supposed to happen. Get over it.

I certainly wouldn't have even known that someone was eating in the theater. I couldn't hear them over YOU TALKING TO EACH OTHER DURING THE FILM! That was far more distracting to me than any noise anyone could have made eating something. But that's not even the worst part. Your conversations consisted solely of pointing out plot points to each other. As if you couldn't realize that the granddaughter hadn't said a word until the final scene without your wife telling you. Thank you. That added so much to my viewing experience.

Your blatant hypocrisy and your utter rudeness actually took away from the experience of my entire day. I watched two very good films, one decent one, and enjoyed everything else about my day. And yet the thing that stands out most is you. I hope I have articulated my point well enough for you to understand why I am so upset with you, and I hope that you can take this into consideration when you next go to a film. Thank you.

Dan Eisenberg

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Blogger Bemis said...

HFA audiences can be bizarrely elitist and detached from conventional moviegoing habits - I once heard two men going over the upcoming schedule and complaining about the inclusion of Raging Bull a mere "sports picture." Still, it's a great space.

7:49 PM

Blogger Tom Sutpen said...

When I was in my late-teens/early-twenties I virtually lived at the HFA . . . when I wasn't living at the Brattle or God knows where else . . . and the audiences were no different then than what you describe here (I haven't been in the joint in almost two years).

In a way, I liken the couple you had to put up with to the people you see at ringside during Boxing matches in Vegas, paying attention to virtually everything but the fight; high rollers who nab choice seats not because of their ardor for the sport, but because they've dropped a ton of money in the Casino. They can afford to show how little it means because, for them, it's all a social game. Just by being there they feel the hand has been played.

The couple you mention, who gabbed their way through Cronos, are really the same breed. If you asked them, they'd no doubt tell you at great length how the rules don't really apply in their case because they aren't mere moviegoers; they're cinephiles, a breed apart, etc. They take film seriously.

Sad to say, but we'll always have jackasses like that to deal with.

Excellent blog, btw!

1:26 AM


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