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Stranded in Multiplex Hell


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#1 dirac

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Posted 18 July 2005 - 03:39 PM

Mick LaSalle outlines some reasons why people aren't going to the movies, for the San Francisco Chronicle.


http://www.sfgate.co...DG15DM3CN18.DTL

Reason 6: Going to the Movies on a Saturday Night Has Become a Fairly Hideous, Repulsive Experience. Art houses and repertory houses are exempt from this observation. Those theaters preserve the moviegoing experience as a fun, rewarding collective activity. But to spend Saturday night going to see a major release at a multiplex can be more stressful than going to work the first Monday after vacation.



This is something I just feel like getting off my chest. Regarding LaSalleís Reason #6, everything he says is true. He is not exaggerating for flippant effect. The experience is exactly this awful. I wonder if the theatre chains and the studios realize exactly how unappetizing the advent of the supercolossal multiplex has made moviegoing for civilized adults, or if they care. I speak with some feeling about this as the smaller, human-sized theatres in my suburban area will closed down early next year because a gigantic new theatre is going up. We have another huge multiplex in our area, and I have had occasion to go there when no other options were available. It is located in one of the enormous shopping areas that have sprung up like kudzu across the landscape (box stores encircling a mammoth parking lot). You have to arrive at least a half hour early Ė more than that at peak attendance times Ė just to find a parking space. You walk what seems to be several miles to the theatre. (In some areas,on a nice evening, youíll get to enjoy the occasional gang fracas breaking out.) You stand in a long line for your tickets. You walk another several miles to get to your movie. If you havenít arrived early enough, you will have to sit very close to the screen, because the smaller sized room equipped with stadium seating doesnít have that many seats at a suitable distance. Also, with the stadium seating, you have to go up steps, which is especially nice for older people and anyone else tired out from the hike to the theatre. Then you must sit through about six or seven previews, a Fandango commercial, etc.

Even as it is, the screen is too big and the sounds are too loud, because theyíre out of proportion to the room. At our little multiplex, if the screen isnít balanced right or the sound is too loud or too soft, you come out to the nearest employee and say so, and the problem is corrected within minutes. At a big multiplex, the problem takes forever to be corrected if it is corrected at all. Truly hideous.

#2 richard53dog

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Posted 18 July 2005 - 04:31 PM

  Even as it is, the screen is too big and the sounds are too loud, because theyíre out of proportion to the room.  At our little multiplex, if the screen isnít balanced right or the sound is too loud or too soft, you come out to the nearest employee and say so, and the problem is corrected within minutes.  At a big multiplex, the problem takes forever to be corrected if it is corrected at all. Truly hideous.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


It's hideous, truly. I mostly resign myself to being about 6 months behind the rest of the world and watching the films at home after they come out on DVD. It really cuts down the number of noisy , obnoxious people.

Richard

#3 Old Fashioned

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Posted 18 July 2005 - 05:46 PM

I also watch most movies at home now, too. I don't have to deal with crying babies or that stale popcorn stench. Those aren't the only reasons I rarely go to the movies now. Most of the new blockbuster films being released don't interest me (the only two I've seen this year at a multiplex are Batman Begins and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory). I would much rather spend my 7 dollars at someplace where there's an inviting atmosphere (usually ends up being a restaurant :) ) and where I can converse with friends. However, I do enjoy going to an indie arthouse theatre and the Museum of Fine Arts Houston to see screenings of lesser known or older films. It's a shame nothing like that exists in my suburban town and I have to drive half an hour into the city to see those.

#4 bart

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Posted 18 July 2005 - 07:01 PM

Ditto to all. The very best movie watching is an urban art house, mid-afternoon, when you have a day off. Rainy day, preferably.

The all the other times, Independent Film Channel and Sundance help. A DVR (Tivo-style) and a good tv program guide can open up films on cable you didn't know were there.

Best of all is the aesthetic: "I'd rather watch a live performance than all but the greatest films." That's led us to wonderful student work, small theaters, experimental companies, etc.

#5 carbro

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Posted 18 July 2005 - 07:47 PM

There are 20 screens within a quarter-mile of my apt. My last film was Farenheit 911. Before that, Erin Brockovitch. I've been considering March of the Penguins for relief from the heat, but I'd forgotten about the ear-splitting volume that most theaters feel obliged to subject us to. Maybe I'll just hang at the local bookstore.

#6 Anthony_NYC

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Posted 19 July 2005 - 07:46 AM

There's an article in Canada's National Post about the negative effect of commercials in the movie house.

#7 Kate B

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Posted 19 July 2005 - 08:32 AM

I would much rather spend my 7 dollars at someplace where there's an inviting atmosphere

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


At least it is not very expensive in the US! Here it costs about 9 pounds or even more to go and see a blockbuster. I have not been to the cinema for months and months... There seems to be a new fashion for talking all the way through the film! :thanks:

#8 dirac

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Posted 19 July 2005 - 09:59 AM

I actually miss the movie house atmosphere when watching at home. There is something about that communal experience, watching in the dark in a big room with others, and sharing (or not sharing) reactions. When I was a kid, for example, seeing Jaws for the first time Ė people around me screaming Ė it was fun, and part of the enjoyment was being with the crowd. (When I saw it, they were sitting on the floor, the place was so crowded.) You donít get that at home. So I do like going out to the pictures, and Iíll miss it if this turns out to be the Wave of the Future.

Fortunately, I do live in an area where there are still art houses and repertory theatres. I feel very bad for people who live in locations where the Cineplex That Ate Chicago is the only option.

Best of all is the aesthetic: "I'd rather watch a live performance than all but the greatest films." That's led us to wonderful student work, small theaters, experimental companies, etc.



Iím afraid I disagree, bart. Iíll take a good movie over an average stage performance any time. Itís a special experience, and the stage can do things the cinema canít, but the reverse is also true.

#9 atm711

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Posted 19 July 2005 - 11:43 AM

One of the benefits of retirement is that I can go to the movies in the afternoon when there are usually no more than a dozen patrons (unless it's an 'art house' movie and then it could be only three or four people). What I find really pesky, though, is the coming attractions....at least five before the film, and at top volume.
I am surprised that no one mentioned this---one of our local politicians is trying to get the theaters to list the actual starting time of the film.

#10 dirac

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Posted 19 July 2005 - 12:33 PM

We have a similar local initiative in the works, but it would be of little help, unfortunately. Savvy moviegoers know that they can expect lots of commercials and plan accordingly, but when you factor in parking time, ticket line time, concessions time, and walking to the room showing your picture (inside the giant multiplexes are a series of rabbit warren like hallways; it can be quite a little distance) Ė you still have to arrive early.

#11 kfw

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Posted 28 August 2005 - 11:25 AM

Today's Washington Post has a rueful essay by Mark Gaveneau Judge, "Also Playing: Cries & Whispers, Shouts & Backtalk," subtitled What Happened to Silence at the Movies?. Answer: It'll cost you $18.

#12 Helene

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Posted 28 August 2005 - 01:13 PM

At the Seattle International Film Festival, one of the programmers or house staff does a short introduction to each film, and there has to be a short reminder at the beginning of each film for non-passholders/regulars that talking is not acceptable during the movie. (Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't.) People still manage to laugh, react, and have a good time.

I remember the Film Forum in NYC, where the collective theater would glare if you scratched your arm quickly; if you sneezed, you skulked out in shame; and if you had the sniffles, you were barred from entering.

I have to disagree that this is purely a generational thing. In the 80's, my friends and I used to work extra time so we could play hooky on Tuesday afternoons, when admission to the art house theatre in Scarsdale cost $2.50. The house was packed with senior citizens -- people who were children during the depression and listened quietly to the radio during FDR's speeches -- and the conversations usually went like this:

The Scene: Any Subtitled Movie:

Husband: Whaaaat??? What did he say????????

Wife: He wants her to go to Paris with him.

Husband: Isn't he married to the other one????

Wife Yes, dear, but she died at the beginning of the movie.

Husband: But wasn't she just at the picnic with him????

Wife: That was a flashback.

etc.


I was shocked when I went into my new neighborhood library the other day, and there was a separate "Quiet Room." I thought the library was supposed to be a quiet room, but my friends have told me that I must have been under a rock when libraries evolved.

#13 Hans

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Posted 28 August 2005 - 01:52 PM

Helene, I thought libraries were supposed to be a quiet room too. The one in my town has a separate children's room, which I think is rather more logical.

#14 bart

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Posted 28 August 2005 - 02:16 PM

Helene. It's still going on. Every word. But they've moved to Boca Raton.

#15 perky

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Posted 29 August 2005 - 04:16 AM

If you end up taking the kids to a movie, it's not just the expensive movie ticket punching a dent in your wallet, it's also the $5 bag of popcorn, the $3 drink and so on. Lord I hate paying all that just to see a recycled piece of Hollywood crap.


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