Thursday, September 22, 2005

Urban Movie Viewing

First things first - my VCR crapped out on me. Either than, or I screwed up the programming and the connections with the receiver (which has happened before - I am a techno-boob.) End result? I do not know what is in the damn hatch. Yeah, I missed the season premiere of "Lost". Dammit. Crap, crap, crappity crap. I'm hope-hope-hoping ABC will be doing more of those encore showings this season.

On the bright side of things, I did get to see the advance screening of "Serenity" last night. The theater wasn't full at all - it made me feel bad for those poor bastards who were buying tickets off of eBay to sneak previews for a couple hundred bucks a pop just a month or two ago. Suckers. In deference to Claire, I will not provide any commentary, except to say that, if you like Joss Whedon and his gift for witty dialogue, you should go see it. (Of course, Ron Glass will always be Detective Harris of "Barney Miller" to me, but that's my problem, not yours.)

I had another invite to a sneak preview tonight at the same tony multiplex in lower Georgetown. This evening's movie was David Cronenberg's "A History of Violence", starring Viggo "Looks Better with Middle Earth Hair and Dirt" Mortensen and Maria "No Slouch Post-ER" Bello. (By the way, do you think Noah Wyle has spent his fortune hunting down and burning all existing copies of "The Librarian: Quest for the Spear"?) Fairly good movie with sporadic graphic violence and an atrocious attempt at a Philly accent by Amish-bearded mobster William Hurt. (Note to all movie directors: PLEASE don't ask William Hurt to do accents. We all remember the "Gorky Park" fiasco, right?)

The most interesting aspect of tonight's cinematic experience though was that, unlike last night, this evening's entertainment was brought to you by the letters A, R, G, and the words "punk ass muthafucka." Yes, tonight was an Urban Movie Experience. It was audience participation night with loud running commentary, Tourettes-like bursts of profanity, bizarre laughter everytime someone was killed, maimed, or terrified (seriously, I so don't get that), and the woman behind me and my friend who punctuated each line on screen with "mmm hmmm" or "oh yeah!"

When two teens on screen have a school hallway fistfight, some guy two rows back screamed, "OH YEAH, MUTHAFUCKA! YOU BEAT HIM DOWN, BOY! PUNK-ASS BITCH MUTHAFUCKA!" Which lead to much cheering and screaming. Another highlight, from the poet laureate in the front row, was clearly intended as assistance for the visually impaired in the audience: "AAAAH, DAWG! MUTHAFUCKA GETS CAPPED ON THE STEPS OF HIS OWN CRIB! AAAAAH, MAN!" (All things considered, the front row poet was more entertaining than the rest of the participatory members of the audience, really.)

I would love to know if anyone has done ethnographic research on the Urban Movie Experience vs. the Suburban Movie Experience. Why, in the Urban Movie Experience, is it necessary to talk back to the screen or shout directions to the characters? Why are scenes of violence considered funny as hell? I'm baffled. And I say that as an avid cultural observer. I just don't get it.

I had my first Urban Movie Experience at Union Station, shortly after I arrived in DC. HoyaMEB, her husband, and I went to see "The Crow." We were pretty freaked out by the audience laughing their asses off over the violent deaths of the bad guys - in fact, the death of one guy after being impaled on a gazillion heroin-filled needles brought the house down. And the woman who stood up a few times screaming, "DON'T OPEN THAT DOOR! DON'T GO IN THAT ROOM" and shrieking, well, that was the cake topper.

Maybe I am just too uptight to appreciate Urban Cinema. Maybe I should just give in to the overall experience.

...No, I shouldn't. I'm paying to see a movie, not listen to the rest of the audience.

Here, though, is the interesting point, and I'm not sure that I like what it says about me - had I been in one of my suburban haunts, I would have had turned around and yelled "SHUT UP!" or gone to get a manager. But here, I didn't. Here, I wasn't sure what the response would have been. And it makes me sad to see myself type that. What was I afraid of? Dang it.

Well... unless the tickets are free, like these were, I'm sticking to my suburban theaters. Call me an asshole - I just want to hear the damn movie. My uptight suburban opinion is if you want to yammer and scream obscenities, just wait for the DVD.


Merujo said...

Okay - this is funny because a friend and I decided that the only way to see Soul Plane would be to go and have an Urban Movie Experience. But after watching the ads, I knew the movie was going to bite so hard, I couldn't justify the $9 plus transportation.

$4 is just about right, AJ. :-)

Claire said...

That's precisely why I try to stick to mid-week matinees. (Thanks for the deference, btw... finally saw Serenity today and loved it.)

When a crowd has collective responses and enthusiasm that can be cool, but mostly it's people yammering about something else, answering their phones, or sneezing on you.