Monday, September 14, 2015

Company Manners

This weekend, I went to see M. Night Shyamalan's new movie, The Visit. The movie is fine - with a PG-13 rating, it's filled with jump-scares rather than actual gore and the two young actors playing the leads (Olivia DeJonge as Becca and Ed Oxenbould as her younger brother Tyler) are certainly actors to watch. Although Shyamalan has an interesting idea in having Becca be a film-obsessed teen making a documentary of her experiences, it means far, FAR too much shaky-cam for my taste. (Then again, it provides an excellent way to cheat actually seeing gore and build the dread, plus it provides a few lovely moments about the nature of filmmaking.) Plus, you really could just tell the ticket window that you want a ticket to see "Scary Grandparents," and they'll know exactly what movie you mean. As with all of Shyamalan's movies, the "twist" (the twist! THE TWIST!) is centered in the hard reality that strange things have a reasonable explanation, albeit one that's dark.

Honestly, when it comes to The Visit, I think it's probably a rental rather than a big-screen must-see, and if you're one of those who keeps giving Shyamalan a chance based on his being crowned "the next Steven Spielberg" ten years ago (and wondering when that's going to happen), fine, go see it.

My real focus here is on something I never thought I'd need to spell out. But here goes - ahem. A tutorial for people attending movies in 2015.

1. The people on the screen can't actually hear you. I get it. Part of the fun of seeing a scary movie is being scared. Presumably, you've paid your money based on that premise and haven't wandered into the wrong theater. Jumping, yelping, and (yes) the occasional "Don't go there!" are perfectly acceptable - and can add to the overall experience (the audience helped me immensely during The Conjuring - they were having such fun that I let loose and enjoyed myself more than I normally would have. Honestly, it's just not a good movie.) However, during my daytime viewing of The Visit, the audience was loudly commenting on the behavior and appearance of every character onscreen. This means they were forgetting a basic point of movie-watching . . .

2. That little ticket in your hand means you're not in your living room. I cannot adequately express my grief and rage at this lack of courtesy. As a fan of MST3K and its progeny, yes, I've been known to snark my way through movies I watch at home. Yes, I've even been known to comment on Beach Blanket Bingo and Jason & the Argonauts when shown to small groups. I don't squawk during films shown in my classes, nor do I yap during movies I - and the people around me - have paid good coin to see as a general practice. (I'm looking at you, Transformers 4 and Star Trek: Into Darkness - you pushed me off the path of righteousness). It's a basic rule - if you're not part of the show, you're there to be entertained. You're not part of the entertainment itself, so shut up. (Sorry to be so blunt.) I've paid good money to watch the shenanigans onscreen, not to listen to you and you're not there to listen to me. Let's agree on that point and eat popcorn together in a show of unity.

3. For two hours, really - it's okay to NOT check your phone. I can't believe I even have to say this, but I do. Cell phones are both marvels of the modern age and a curse that may undo us all. They also come with a light-up screen which carries far, far further than you think it does in a darkened theater. No, don't text, tweet, Instagram, Facebook, or whatever else you're doing once the "Enjoy this digital feature presentation" comes on the screen - and even that's later than you should be electronically available. Once they remind you to cut off your phone, CUT OFF YOUR PHONE!

4. If you're not going to watch the credits, move along. I'm one of those oddballs who watches the credits. For me, a movie isn't over until I've seen the cast (including "3d Solider from the Left"), the crew (including "Junior Assistant Accountant"), songs (really? That was from Tosca?), caught the weird credits ("Cockroach Wrangler" is still a favorite of mine), and seen the IATSE logo. I get that many other viewers don't want to sit through the credits (I don't understand it, but I get it. Me, I'm watching every frame I paid for), but I can't tell you the number of times I've had people just stop and chat with their equally rude brethren in front of my seat, thus blocking the screen for me. Keep it moving, folks, and chat in the hallway once you're out of the theater.

I swear, I'm becoming more of a curmudgeon each day. But really - movie watching in a theater should be a shared experience with the other people in the audience and that requires a certain level  of respect and a willingness to form that community with the people there.

So - to recap. The characters can't hear you, hush, and turn off your phone. That way, you'll have far more to talk about after the credits roll.

No comments: