Silence Please

When going to the cinema these days it is a sad fact that you have to accept a certain level of disturbance as just ‘par for the course’.  From the rustle of bags, to the munching of popcorn, the annoyingly incontinent person who manages three toilet breaks in 90 minutes, and then whispers, “What did I miss?” on their return to their friend.  These things, sadly, are not only the norm, but are the minor inconvenience compared to the unacceptable things such as the person on the row in front who insists on texting her friend or checking Facebook every 10 minutes, the guys who laugh annoyingly at moments that aren’t even funny, the person behind you who has not only had their feet up, but has chosen to remove their shoes, and the person who insists on adding a commentary to the whole film (“Oh,  he’s behind them and going to jump out!  What will they do?” How about watching the film to find out? If I needed audio description I’d ask for a set of headphones at the box office!)

We all know these frustrations, and some of you out there may even be guilty of providing them.  As a worker within the cinema industry, watching for these on a daily basis has had the result of making me hypersensitive to even the most minor of disruptions, which, as you can imagine, makes attempting to watch a public showing of a film nigh on impossible.   I have lost count of the number of times I’ve ended up missing most of a film as I am too busy asking people to put phones away, be quiet, sit down, or stop kicking the chairs.  I have even become obsessed with counting people out the screen as they go to the toilet, then back in again, occasionally catching screen jumpers sneaking in by doing so.  All of this on my days off work, trying to relax with a film.

So, as a result, I tend to watch private showings for staff or screenings for press instead, especially on the films I am anticipating the most.  You would expect staff and press to have some common courtesy and respect for others watching, as we are all lovers of the art, so wouldn’t want to disturb or disrupt it for anyone.  Surely that is the case?

Well, as I discovered today, sadly that is not always true.  Today (as with a few other times over the years) I encountered a few amateur bloggers for a popular site who seemed to be under the impression that chatting and discussing the film whilst it is playing was, in some way, perfectly acceptable.   Their total disrespect for the rest of us trying to watch the film without the usual disturbances was frustrating, and I can only ponder how much of the film  they were actually taking in for review purposes, and how much they were just there to see the film before anyone else.

Now I understand the taking of notes during a press screening, jotting down important points in a pad, slight rustle of paper and maybe one of those pens with a torch built in so what you write is legible.  But discussion during the film only highlights how little attention you are paying to the scenes you are talking over (which tend to be those boring scenes with, you know, dialogue…otherwise known as the plot).  Save the discussion until after the film, have a pint and chat about what you loved or hated, but during the film keep the noise down…its just professional courtesy.


2 thoughts on “Silence Please

  1. As a critic. If a film is that engrossing not once should your pen touch paper. You take a few moments after it to take everything in and then jot down exactly what you are feeling. You then methodologically think about each part of the final product before structuring your response. I would remove these bloggers from your press list.

    • I think the occasional note is understandable at times, whether it is a prompt to remind you of a particularly clever line, or (on the flip side) a crazy mistake made that you want to refer to.

      Personally I don’t take notes myself, and rely on my impression of the film as a whole for my reviews. This sometimes results in me amending my reviews at a later date when a re watch reminds me of something I forgot to mention (or, if years later, results in a Retro Review….which I will be doing for Dark City this weekend having just re watched that film last night), but then again I review for the fun of it. I understand those who are paid to review might want to keep notes to be a bit more thorough.

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