Wednesday, February 01, 2006

This Seat's Taken (For Silence Only)

Becoming a solo moviegoer has ruined sharing movie experiences with others.

Because I'd rather be alone.

Since I first went to see a movie by myself in December, I've seen one other film alone and one with friends. During the latter, I was seated in between my friends, one of whom I've never sat next to in a movie before. After her second or third comment, to which I just nodded or smiled (if you didn't know, I HATE talking during movies - mine or anyone else's), she got the hint and stopped talking to me. But before that, before the movie even started, I was thinking about how much better the experience would be if I were on my own.

You see, I make it a point to get to the theater early. I hate walking in as the lights are dimming. I like to be comfortably seated for awhile before the trailers begin. And since I don't like talking during a film, I don't have to worry about that when I'm alone. I can think and enjoy and wrap myself in the story, rather than answer questions or fake a laugh at something my companion says.

Now I'm excited to go to the movies alone. I tend to have slightly different taste in films than many of my friends, and I've realized that going alone is the only way I'll catch a movie at the theater. I find myself looking forward to a weekend opportunity to see something without my friends, and I hate trying to explain to them that I saw a movie by myself. They don't seem to quite understand.

There are, of course, exceptions. Once in awhile I like a good, laugh out loud comedic romp like Wedding Crashers where I can just throw Cinema Etiquette to the side. And I also love being accompanied to a movie when my companion is just as into the story as I am. Where we can discuss the film afterwards and share what we did and didn't like. This is probably why I've seen most movies with my mom. She knows my rules and follows them (most of the time), and we always leave the theater in silence at first, before we fully digest what we've seen and talk about it in the car.

I'm thinking Capote for this weekend....


Maxwell Thomas Wastler said...

I got so mad at a friend on Friday. We went to see The Matador, and while I arrived a half-hour early for certain the movie would sell out, he strolled in with his "bro," a fraternity brother with whom he now lives, two minutes after the movie began and we were forced to separate.

Granted, they gave me the pick of the litter, I hate not being able to properly choose my seat, I hate walking into a dim theatre, and I hate sitting on the ends with all the other late-comers. I've noticed late-comers are the talkers, the shushers, the chewers, the tappers, basically the annoying crowd tends to sit in the undesirable seats.

That's why I go to movies alone.

I think that practice started in college when on summers home my friends wouldn't go see the indie and foreign films I wanted to see - which is unfortunately mostly what I go to see at the movies. Also, I'm not burdened by late-comers, talkers, and generally impatient theatre-goers.

I mean, I love getting there early, seeing all the shlumps like me who want so badly to take in the next two and a half hours for all they're worth, seeing what poor shlump paid to have his sushi restaurant advertised in the movie theatre, and I love listening to the music selected to play overhead, the choice of light fixtures, the way people choose their seats; I even love watching people awkwardly saunter in and sit one, sometimes two seats apart. Once, I saw a guy sit down, place his coat on the seat in between himself and the next moviegoer, smile at the man he was coat-blocking, and after realizing, as I too did, this particular cinephile had a raging case of B.O., the gentleman politely stood up, paused, turned, grabbed his coat, and shifted both him and his coat one seat over, so there were two seats, a coat, and a odiferous force field between him and Smelly Jim.

As important as theatre-going is to live theatre, taking in the set, the theatre design, the smells, the sights, the ushers, the programs, I am of the opinion there is a lost art in moviegoing as well. It's an experience we've become too accustomed to, like flying in an airplane or going to Catholic Mass. What with Tivo, Netflix, digital cable, HDTV, and so on, we're used to being able to talk during the movie, prop our feet up on the chair/head in front of us, chew too loudly, fart, smell bad, dress poorly, get their late, and so on. Same with airplanes and Catholic Mass, people used to get dressed up for these things. Now, it's flip flops standard, belching mandatory. It's a piss poor example of humanity. As technology improves, our manners worsen.

That being said, go to movies more often by yourself. Go when no one else is there. It's the best, often the only time I prefer to go. The middle of the afternoon in St. Louis, MO, is standard old Jewish lady watching time.

Good Night, and Good Luck wouldn't have been half as exciting if all the old pinko white-haired ladies hadn't been scoffing and booing McCarthy, and grumbling at his bushy eyebrows. Totally a worthwhile experience, minus the formaldehyde scent caked into my clothing afterwards.

And scene.

Me said...

I have wanted to go to a movie by myself for some time, but I have never done it. I would feel awkward if the theater was crowded and I was solo. If I was unemployed I could go to a midweek matinee. That's it! I quit!

-Gutless in Seattle

erin said...

It's not awkward at all, really. If I could go to midweek matinees, I'd be at the movies all the time. Alas, I am relegated to weekends, but at the small theater near my apartment, there are often a lot of people there alone.

simplesinger said...

I whole heartedly agree with your sentiments. I've been going to movies by myself since I got my drivers license. My friends used to always say I was nuts, but at first the ones I went to were ones no one else would go to with me. I just got tired of explaining things, and feeling bad if someone else didn't like the movie.

To this day I think long and hard before I pick someone to go to a movie with. You have to get the right mixture of person and film.

Not an easy thing to do.

Good post.

The Scarlett said...

I haven't done the solo movie thing before. My husband and I have similar film taste so I'm lucky.

BTW, Capote is very good.

Sub Girl said...

i haven't done the solo movie thing either, but if i'm also really into odd/indie movies that people besides my bf aren't likely to want to see. and capote is good.