Movie Theater Experiences

Discuss films and filmmakers of the 20th century (and even a little of the 19th century). Threads may contain spoilers.
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Jeff
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Movie Theater Experiences

#1 Post by Jeff » Tue Jul 24, 2007 3:58 pm

Barmy wrote:Could this guy get any smugger? When his commercial for AmEx showed at MoMA's recent "best commercials" program, it was quite satisfying when the audience booed it.
Barmy, I must say that you are more in tune with audience reactions than anyone I have ever heard. In fact, it seems that most of your perceptions about movies are based on the way you see other people react to them. And you've attended movies with some of the most animated and vocal audiences I've ever heard of. I've noticed that your takes on Rescue Dawn, Away From Her, Grindhouse, 300, Curse of the Golden Flower, United 93, The Departed, and, of course, your hilarious reassessment of Taxi Driver have been colored by the "howls," "chuckles," and "boos" of your fellow moviegoers.

I'm not sure if you're always telling us how various audiences react to things in order to validate your own opinion, or if it's because you cannot formulate one. Either way, I would suggest switching to an entirely different set of venues. With a couple of exceptions, the ones you apparently frequent seem to be filled with audiences of exceptionally bad taste.

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#2 Post by Barmy » Tue Jul 24, 2007 4:08 pm

Audience reaction is one of the most enjoyable aspects of moviegoing. Just last night when MoMA's screening of "Crash" ended someone shouted "THAT WAS DISGUSTING!", which elicited a healthy audience laugh. I think it's great when people either clap or boo at the end of a film. And it's hard not to notice.

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#3 Post by Jeff » Tue Jul 24, 2007 4:12 pm

Barmy wrote:Just last night when MoMA's screening of "Crash" ended someone shouted "THAT WAS DISGUSTING!"
Maybe I'm attending the wrong venues. Assuming you're referring to Haggis' Crash, that reaction is worth applauding.

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#4 Post by Barmy » Tue Jul 24, 2007 4:16 pm

If it was the Haggis Crash, I would have been the one making that statement.

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#5 Post by Cinesimilitude » Tue Jul 24, 2007 4:19 pm

I recall Walter Murch stating that he prefers to watch movies on a laptop with headphones, and would only go to the theater if the auditorium had one seat. He felt that when the viewer is subconsciously aware that their reactions could make them vulnerable to forces around them, the power of a film can be lost.

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#6 Post by david hare » Fri Jul 27, 2007 3:50 am

The most sublime venue ever to exist for a lone viewer like me used to be the old Anthology Film Archives at Astor Place during the 70s when they had invididual clingaround black seats which entirely obliterated the visual and aural presence of every other single viewer.

Given my loathing of audiences of every kind these days I still remember the great 60s days of fleapits - grand and small - which catered endlessly to ardent auteurists. One such in Sydney during my shooldays was a shoebox sized dump in Kinge Cross called the Gaiety which basically showed everything we asked them to. During one lunchtime screening (during schooltime hookey when I was 16) of Aldrich's Attack - which I joyously shared with between-shifts hookers, strippers, drag queens pimps, petty crims and few gormless cinephiles - one totally asborbed spiv sitting behind me started pounding the back of my seat with his fists during Eddie Albert's big breakdown scene and called out repeatedly to the screen:
"Fucking BALL-LESS CUNT!!"

They sure aint like this at the Sydney Film Festival. It was swell!

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#7 Post by Magic Hate Ball » Fri Jul 27, 2007 4:26 am

SncDthMnky wrote:I recall Walter Murch stating that he prefers to watch movies on a laptop with headphones, and would only go to the theater if the auditorium had one seat. He felt that when the viewer is subconsciously aware that their reactions could make them vulnerable to forces around them, the power of a film can be lost.
Which is odd, because when I go to a movie in the theater my emotions are amped up. I laughed my ass off at Ratatouille, and I'm pretty sure I won't when I get it on DVD.

Let's face it: watching a movie in theaters is the ultimate viewing experience. A bad audience is a bad audience, a good audience is a good audience. It's a gamble, but it'd be better than sitting at home watching it on the TV.

Unless there are screaming children.

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#8 Post by kieslowski » Fri Jul 27, 2007 5:35 am

Even at the marvellous National Film Theatre in London, I've been driven spare by some of the audiences there lately. Like the two women who guffawed all the way through A Woman Under The Influence or the guy who stated loudly at the end of Naruse's Late Chrysanthemums - "Well, that was just awful". But what really gets my goat is that there's invariably a guy who, at every directorial flourish or writer's insight will bark "ha!" loudly and mirthlessly, purely, it seems, to let everyone else in the auditorium know that he 'gets' it. Jerk.

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#9 Post by Kinsayder » Fri Jul 27, 2007 9:56 am

I'm wary of seeing a film I love if I know most of the audience may be watching it for the first time. I spend the whole movie with my senses focussed on the people around me, trying to gauge their reactions, and getting irritated if they under-react or over-react or mis-react. It happened recently when I saw Sunrise at the Barbican: the audience responded appropriately for the most part, but why didn't I hear sobbing, dammit!

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#10 Post by Awesome Welles » Fri Jul 27, 2007 10:20 am

kieslowski wrote:Even at the marvellous National Film Theatre in London, I've been driven spare by some of the audiences there lately.
I must say, the NFT hasn't been great recently has it? I was at a screening of Naruse's The Song Lantern and someone began talking, they were promptly shooed thankfully. Also at a screening of Paisa some crazy old woman behind me started talking about the Iraq war, I turned and gave her half a glare and she shut up.

Where's the respect for silence these days? Of course laughter is permitted, but ramblings are not!

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#11 Post by The Elegant Dandy Fop » Fri Jul 27, 2007 12:06 pm

Magic Hate Ball wrote:Let's face it: watching a movie in theaters is the ultimate viewing experience. A bad audience is a bad audience, a good audience is a good audience. It's a gamble, but it'd be better than sitting at home watching it on the TV.
You know, it's not always because of the theater. I think a big influence is who you go with.

Well, I react the same as I would in a theater when I watch a DVD, and someone else is around. Watching Raising Arizona the other day, I wasn't laughing too much while I was by myself, but when I watched it with a group of friends, we were laughing aloud.

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#12 Post by exte » Fri Jul 27, 2007 1:01 pm

Jeff wrote:I'm not sure if you're always telling us how various audiences react to things in order to validate your own opinion, or if it's because you cannot formulate one.
Whoa.

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#13 Post by jguitar » Fri Jul 27, 2007 1:39 pm

kieslowski wrote:Even at the marvellous National Film Theatre in London, I've been driven spare by some of the audiences there lately.
Just have to share my own most-painful-audience-to-watch-a-film-with story: back in '98, when the restored print of Les Demoiselles de Rochefort was touring the country, I went to see it at Chicago's great Music Box Theatre. Let's just say that the audience reaction was derisive. In particular, there was a group of (to borrow language from another thread) hipster douchebags a few rows in front of me who laughed almost non-stop out of pure mockery--it sounded like they were huffing nitrous throughout the screening (in which case, shame on them for not sharing!). Meanwhile, I was in a state of bliss at the film itself; I thought it was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen. Philistines!

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#14 Post by Magic Hate Ball » Fri Jul 27, 2007 4:35 pm

The Elegant Dandy Fop wrote:You know, it's not always because of the theater. I think a big influence is who you go with.
For me, the influence is not who I go with but the 35-foot-screen in front of me.

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#15 Post by Person » Fri Jul 27, 2007 4:58 pm

SncDthMnky wrote:I recall Walter Murch stating that he prefers to watch movies on a laptop with headphones, and would only go to the theater if the auditorium had one seat. He felt that when the viewer is subconsciously aware that their reactions could make them vulnerable to forces around them, the power of a film can be lost.
Crowd psychology can be applied to cinemas. This is why I don't like going to the Cinema. I often laugh at things that were not intentionally funny. Watching horror movies in a cinema is also a mistake, in my opinion. You are putting yourself in a vulnerable position, ie. showing that you can be easily frightened, etc. Cinemas are strange places for a number of reasons, but mainly because you are running the gamit of your emotions with strangers due to something that one cannot interact with, thus frustration spills over: "THAT WAS HORRIBLE!" is a clearing emotions in order to reassure oneself and to assert oneself publicly. The fellow was not repressing his emotions and should be commended. Today, movies should be heckled, if necessary. If necessary.

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#16 Post by Mr Sausage » Fri Jul 27, 2007 7:52 pm

Person wrote:Watching horror movies in a cinema is also a mistake, in my opinion. You are putting yourself in a vulnerable position, ie. showing that you can be easily frightened, etc.
Not to mention you can look about you for reassurance, something you cannot do if you're watching the thing alone and in the dark (preferably in a strange house with its own series of unfamiliar noises).

When I'm really enjoying a movie I tend to quickly and easily forget about everyone else. But, then again, I very, very rarely go to a movie except in the afternoon on a weekday when pretty much no one else goes--especially if the film has been out for some weeks. It's lovely when only two or three other people bother to show up as well.

Still, I wouldn't miss for the world seeing a series of elderly/middle aged women and their early teenaged (grand)daughters walking out of the 40-Year-Old Virgin in shock. I guess they weren't expecting to be confronted with dialogue about horse fucking, although I don't know what they did expect out of an 18A, obviously raunchy, comedy. It about doubled my laughter.

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#17 Post by Person » Fri Jul 27, 2007 8:58 pm

You just reminded me of something: Tom Cruise Being a Selfish Cunt

Image

"GET OUTTA MY CINEMA, YOU THETAN-INFECTED MUTHAFUCKAS!!!"

Cuuuuuuuunt! :roll:

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#18 Post by Gropius » Fri Jul 27, 2007 10:30 pm

kieslowski wrote:But what really gets my goat is that there's invariably a guy who, at every directorial flourish or writer's insight will bark "ha!" loudly and mirthlessly, purely, it seems, to let everyone else in the auditorium know that he 'gets' it. Jerk.
I think I may know the very man you are referring to. Every time I've been to the NFT, he always seems to be there, towards the front. Laughs loudly and inappropriately, has an irritating smoker's cough, and exudes a rather unpleasant odour resembling smoked meat mixed with strong cough sweets, detectable from several rows away. Or maybe that's someone else; there are probably several similar candidates. The elaborate description is evidence of how irksome I have found him.

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#19 Post by Mr Sausage » Fri Jul 27, 2007 11:32 pm

Person wrote:You just reminded me of something: Tom Cruise Being a Selfish Cunt
I can only hope the association was incidental and has nothing to do with me personally. Being known as this forum's Tom Cruise is about the last thing I need right now.

Oh, and why doesn't he just build his own theatre with one screen, projector, etc., and purchase the films himself? It's not like this is beyond his means.

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#20 Post by exte » Sat Jul 28, 2007 12:40 am

Because it's only a thousand dollars?

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#21 Post by Awesome Welles » Sat Jul 28, 2007 4:42 am

Gropius wrote:I think I may know the very man you are referring to. Every time I've been to the NFT, he always seems to be there, towards the front. Laughs loudly and inappropriately, has an irritating smoker's cough, and exudes a rather unpleasant odour resembling smoked meat mixed with strong cough sweets, detectable from several rows away. Or maybe that's someone else; there are probably several similar candidates. The elaborate description is evidence of how irksome I have found him.
There is indeed more than one of them. These people also do not only go to the NFT (they do always sit at the front though). I work for a cinema office and every Christmas we watch a surprise pre-release film, so we went to one of our cinemas and the surprise Christmas film was Jackass and one of these people sat at the front bellowing the whole way through (I'm not old and out of tune, I get it, I'm hip). As if I didn't have to suffer enough already.

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#22 Post by kieslowski » Sat Jul 28, 2007 4:53 am

Gropius wrote:Every time I've been to the NFT, he always seems to be there, towards the front. Laughs loudly and inappropriately, has an irritating smoker's cough, and exudes a rather unpleasant odour resembling smoked meat mixed with strong cough sweets, detectable from several rows away.
There are plenty of annoying laughers, but that is the very man I'm thinking of. He acts as a sort of terrible warning to me - this is what you might end up like if you don't have a life beyond just watching films.

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#23 Post by Luke M » Sat Jul 28, 2007 5:18 am

Only $1000 to rent out the entire theatre? Oh, how I'd love to put on an international film festival highlighting the works of such masters as Renoir, Godard, Fellini and Ozu...all just for me.

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#24 Post by Gropius » Sat Jul 28, 2007 8:51 am

kieslowski wrote:this is what you might end up like if you don't have a life beyond just watching films.
Yes, like one of those Renaissance vanitas paintings. There's a fine line between cinephilia as enthusiasm and as morbid addiction; I think going to the cinema seven or more times a week, 52 weeks a year, probably falls into the latter category. Makes me think of the blind cripples in Gulliver's Travels who continually drink at the well of eternal life.

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#25 Post by Gregory » Sat Jul 28, 2007 3:57 pm

I had an embarrassing moviegoing experience several years ago when I went to a movie with this "friend" for the first time, not knowing he would irritate the people sitting all around us throughout the film. In addition to laughing way too long and hard at most of the humor, he would also ask aloud things like, "What is she doing?" at times when the audience was yet supposed to understand what the character on screen was doing. At one moment that met with his great approval, he turned to me and said, "This movie is fucking awesome!" And this was in a nearly full theater. With most people I know I'd feel comfortable asking them to keep it down if something like this happened, but this guy was a little crazy and would have probably yelled at me to fuck off or walked out in a huff leaving me with no ride home or something equally wonderful. I didn't really feel like hanging around with him much after that.

As for people announcing things at the end of a film, like, "That was disgusting!" I would really enjoy people doing more of this after (or maybe even during) truly bad films where something really should be said. After Naruse, no.
I remember reading a piece a few years ago, in Utne I believe, where the author made the case that audiences have generally gotten way too passive. I did a quick search for it but couldn't locate it, but it was an interesting idea. At the same time I do think people should be much more considerate.

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