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Burnett's Urban Etiquette

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Movie time

The missus and I got home a little while ago from the theater, where we saw Casino Royale, the new James Bond film.

As a longtime James Bond aficionado, I have been looking forward to the film for many months.
And I have to say I wasn't disappointed.

Even though I once thought it was blasphemous of the Bond franchise's producers to cast a blond as 007, Daniel Craig (who also kicked butt as a reluctant high-end drug dealer in Layer Cake) held his own.

Craig did a good job showing the vulnerable Bond, the guy who had normal, human emotions, before he turned into the cold-hearted player. I think he'll do fine as Bond and could end up as good as Sean Connery's Bond.

Overall, a nice outing, though my wife thought the movie was a little too long and a little gorier than past Bond flicks. She also didn't think it had enough of the usual comic relief Bond uses to break tensions.

On the downside, I got my feet stomped on by typical late arrivals, who in spite of the 50 or so empty seats in the joint insisted on sitting right next to me. And I lost count after five or six of the number of cell phones ringing during the film. And the guy next to me had to exclaim throughout the movie. If Bond did something he liked, the guy would blurt out something to the effect of "F---n' A! That was awesome." If he disapproved, it was "Man, that was f----d up!"

I'm not uptight about language. I've uttered a "darn" or two. But we're in a frickin' movie theater, Ebert. Save the commentary till you're watching the movie at home on DVD.

You guys better hope I don't ever end up independently wealthy, 'cause one of the first things I'll do is buy a movie complex. And I'll establish rules meant to enhance everyone's viewing pleasure: Anyone whose phone rings aloud during the film will get fined double the cost of their ticket. And anyone who talks on their phone during the film (and they're not a law enforcement agent or emergency room doctor on call) will get dragged out of the theater by their neck or scrotum, whichever is easier to hang onto. The exception will be if you answer on instinct, and then recover immediately by taking the conversation outside to the hallway. And if you arrive more than 15 minutes after the movie has started, and you weren't late because you were off saving a life or arresting someone from the FBI's 10 Most Wanted list, then you have to sit on the floor to watch the movie...down in front, right up under the screen, practically, where you're so close you're likely to go cross-eyed.

That's all the critique I have in me today. Time to go walk the dog.

Till tomorrow, peace and hair grease.


  • Amen! I can't stand theaters! I have been in some where the screen was barely visible because of all the cell phone glowing.

    The last time I did venture a theater it smelled of mildew/urine so strongly, I had a headache when we left.

    The time before that a soda was hurled directly over our heads and into a wall before some girl got into a physical brawl with another girl.

    There is no longer a movie I would see that warrants tolerating people in large quantities.

    Bless you for still chancing the masses.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 6:37 PM  

  • I saw that ghost movie with Nicole Kidman a few years back, which was excellent and creepy. But there was a man there with an infant crying and he had to take IT out after the entire theater booed him.

    My girl was like, that was mean and he was all like fuck you but you know what, we paid $20 for this experience and a baby crying in a theater (b/c they were selfish) broke me out of that essential "suspension of disbelief."

    I paid for a wonderful dream and was quite annoyed to have been woken out of it. That man who had to "share" his opinion affected your ability to suspend disbelief and is a jerk.

    The crowd dynamic is sometimes important to the enjoyment of such an event but one jerk can knock you out of the dream.....

    This is awful but I remember seeing "The Last Temptation Of Christ" and being QUITE annoyed that the Hispanic man behind us was translating throughout the entire film to his buddy, who could not read the English subtitles. I wanted to experience the movie listening to the Aramaic (as the Great One intended) but was knocked out of that dream.

    My girl-at-the-time thought I was the worst asshole ever. It was, afterall, a movie about "Christ."

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 9:37 PM  

  • No "grunting" in this movie theater, either, eh?

    (that story made the top of the today!)

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 9:38 PM  

  • Get out of town!! No really. You'll probably find that behavior at the theater will change, (improve,) the farther out of the big city you can go. That's not to say you gotta drive 90 minutes to see a movie. Rather, when you are out of town, go see that movie you wanted to see. Or, use the movie as an excuse to visit an out of the way town for a shopping spree or to see family. You might even find a theater where patronage is more respectful closer to home if you just try a few complexes down the road from the one you always go to.

    By Blogger The Sarcasticynic, at 8:21 AM  

  • ann nonymous, I can't do the movie crowds often. I was in a theater once when a fight broke out. Didn't get caught in the crossfire (of drinks and snacks), but I did miss a few minutes of the sound 'cause of all the yelling.

    And Matt, I gotta agree with you. I'm all about wholesome family activity. But bringing an infant into a movie theater? That's pushing it.

    And did you mean "The Passion of the Christ?" I know that was in Aramaic with English subtitles. I didn't know "The Last Temptation" was too.

    And Sarc, I still haven't found that special theater. I try the one two miles from my house, and it's dirty like...a movie theater. Every possible sticky thing clings to the floor. The seats are threadbare and creaky and uncomfortable. I try this one - about 6 miles from my house - and it is nicely appointed and in an upscale shopping center and neighborhood. It's clean, but you read the other issues going on.

    This may sound incredibly snooty of me, but the best movie experiences I've had in recent years have been at some writer's convention where attendees were allowed to screen certain films in advance of their opening to the public. Being among a small fraternity of friends and colleagues, I found the behavior much better - probably 'cause everyone knew if you acted up during the film the rest of us knew who you were and where you worked.

    By Blogger James Burnett, at 9:16 AM  

  • I'd imagine there were evil stares willing those cell phones to just spontaneously combust. I'm up for the hang 'em by the scrotum idea myself!

    Nice to hear the Bond flick wasn't too shabby. There was quite a bit of negativity surrounding the softness of the actor. Guess it's always good to come in with low expectations!

    By Blogger The Dummy, at 11:07 AM  

  • I like the movie theater idea. Tell me, would you be willing to open franchises in California? I would be very interested in having one here. Oh yeah, and instituting a "tazer policy" for anyone who got overly frisky when asked to be polite.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 11:16 AM  

  • Saw it Friday night. Loved it, but it did go a bit long. Retrospect, I think it was build up for the turn. the big end and his emotional twist. Worked for me. The action was awesome. Running his scrawny little ass off. Jumpin' and runnin'. Heard a thing on NPR about the torture scene being too graphic for PG13, but I thought it was mild. Does that reviewer ever go see stuff like Saw? I think the bar has been raised a bit. I liked his look, and his pouty scowl works well in the role. Someone told me this look is a reaction to the fact that he has lousy teeth. Anyway, loved it.

    By Blogger Fathairybastard, at 11:42 AM  

  • Preach it, brotha! What irks me the most is the people who wait until the movie starts to decide that they want to go to the bathroom or go get some refreshments. First of all, it's annoying for those around you. Secondly, YOU'RE MISSING THE MOVIE! Why pay all that money for a movie only to miss a pivotal plot point because you HAD to have more Milk Duds.

    By Blogger GrizzBabe, at 4:50 PM  

  • I somehow managed to raise three children and never took one to a movie theater if they didn't know how to behave. Crying babies are probably sleepy and have been carried out of the house past their bedtimes by parents who are too selfish to sacrifice even one moment of their own selfish pleasure to make sure their children have basic needs met. These babies grow up having never been taught manners or respect for other people, so they go to the theater, talk on their cell phone, shout obscenities, and spill sugary liquids on the floor. You see where I'm going with this, right?

    By Blogger wordsonwater, at 5:01 PM  

  • i am saving my once a year movie theatre visit for THE FOUNTAIN.... ooohhh yeah. lol

    Yeah im a huge BOND fan. big time. I loved the whole concept of the films and the character himself and oooh man the dreams i used to have of being a bond girl. let me tell you. :p

    people in theatres piss me off because they have no consideration for those around them. screaming children running up and down the isles, cell phones going off, people talking, making remarks all kinds of stuff.

    we have forgotten what it is like to respect others and allow them to enjoy the movie going experience. we only think of ourselves.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10:15 PM  

  • I'm not a theatre fan at all. I think the last movie I saw at the theatre was Ben Hur. Who woulda thunk that Ceasar had a crew cut!

    By Anonymous tony, at 9:13 AM  

  • My mom has an interesting theory on this bad behavior in theaters. She thinks that the VCR is to blame. People got so used to talking and interrupting a movie at home, that when they're out, they forget that they're not the only ones watching the movie. I sort of agree with this, as I find my attention span isn't what it used to be when I watch movies because I'm so used to being able to pause and rewind when I space out.

    But that aside - it is still RUDE for people to show up late, receive and make phone calls, and bring infants into theaters!! Get it together, folks!

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 11:10 AM  

  • hey James, etiquette question for you: we went to see Bond with another couple. The theater we go to is an old one and doesn't have "stadium" seating. It's mostly empty too (evrybody drives to Aventura). There were these wonderful seats for the four of us, right by row 25 or so, in the middle. Perfect. There was a group in the row behind ours who objected to our taking the seats -grunting, loud whispering and finally moving. I even had to turn arond and give them the look. My wife says it was a bit rude of us to sit in front of them. I say they paid for their seats, not the ones in front of them as well. What do you think?

    By Blogger Alex, at 11:50 AM  

  • WordsonWater I like your theory, and BC I like your mom's theory too. Both make perfect sense.

    Queen, I'll definitely expand the "franchise" to Cali.

    And Alex, that's a tough one. On the one hand just 'cause I'm weird when I feel like people are unnecessarily crowding me, I suppose I can understand their discontent. I admit, I may have grumbled too if there were a bunch of other empty seats and they weren't stadium seats giving some sight-clearance for the folks sitting behind you. So I think I have to agree with your wife on this one. BUT on the other hand, you are 100% right too, 'cause the folks behind you bought tickets for their seats alone, not the whole theater. And they didn't know when they came to the theater that it wasn't gonna be a full house. So they should've been prepared to have someone in the seats in front of them.

    Now that I've said all that, I guess I'll have to practice what I preach. But man, I am funny about being cramped!

    By Blogger James Burnett, at 12:57 PM  

  • Maybe when you open your own movie theaters you could take the path that professional broadway theaters have taken: Your cell phone rings during the show? You get a $50 fine - BOOM! You answer it? It's $100. They do not play around over there!

    Anyway, I don't get the cell-phone addicts. They just paid $20 to see the movie, too. Turn the phone off and enjoy the show, people!

    By Blogger MoDigli, at 3:42 PM  

  • I am the same way too. Hate being crowded. But I also understand it's my problem, not the people with whom I share a public space with, so it's on me to move.

    Normally I would have sat somewhere else, but these were the best seats in the theater. I go to the movies early just to get a good seat.

    By Blogger Alex, at 5:49 PM  

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