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How to watch movies like a civilized person

Posted on September 3rd, 2010

Source: http://www.nowtoronto.com/daily/story.cfm?content=176582

With TIFF just around the corner, this seems like the ideal time to offer a few handy tips

By Norman Wilner

Going to the movies is a communal experience. We assemble in the dark, we all see the same thing, and we all take away a different interpretation of the experience. Unless someone in the auditorium is enough of an asshole that the experience becomes all about enduring that person, rather than enjoying the movie.

Based on my experience at a few screenings over the course of this summer, it seems that some folks need a little refresher course in how to behave in the dark. And with the film festival just around the corner, this seems like the ideal time to offer a few handy tips. Think of them as five golden rules.

1. Turn Off. Your Goddamn. Cell Phone.

I understand that movie theatres are no longer the hallowed halls of yore, when silence was expected and talkers were forcefully shushed. But what’s the point of having phone conversations while the movie is playing? Movie tickets aren’t cheap; why not pay attention to the movie you paid to see? More to the point, everyone else paid the same steep price, and they’re getting madder and madder at you for interfering with their viewing experience.

2. Try To Be On Time.

Seriously. Even if you allow for six minutes of ads and ten minutes of trailers, that’s a quarter of an hour to get your popcorn and drinks and find your seats. Arriving after the feature’s started and banging around in the dark looking for a place to sit, when all the good seats have been taken a quarter of an hour earlier? That’s just not good planning.

3. Nachos Are Not Movie Food.

There’s a special place in hell for the person who decided that the cinematic experience was incomplete without corn chips slathered in horrible orange cheese sauce. And it’s not just the calories, the smell and the smeared clothes awaiting the consumer; it’s the hazard the product creates to everyone in the vicinity. Ever step in a half-empty tray of cheese sauce on your way to the aisle? Or been forced to endure the fragrant belching of a small child who’s just gobbled a full order in five minutes? I have. Like I said: a special place in hell.

4. The People On The Screen Cannot Hear You.

This should be self-evident, right? And yet people still feel they can offer valuable advice – which sort of makes sense when you’re warning Sylvester Stallone that there’s a bad guy creeping up behind him, but doesn’t seem helpful at all when they’re telling Julia Roberts to cut Billy Crudup loose in Eat Pray Love while she’s actually signing the divorce papers.

5. The People In The Theatre Don’t WANT To Hear You.

Admittedly, some audience participation is acceptable and even encouraged at TIFF’s Midnight Madness screenings, but it’s all about knowing the tone. I’m specifically intended thinking of the yahoo behind me at Machete earlier this week who kept inquiring whether everyone else had seen the latest “awesome” action stunt or glimpsed the “excellent titties” of several of the cast members. We’re all facing the same screen, dude. That’s sort of the point.

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