When I watch a movie for the first time I really want to let it sink in. I want to catch every word, every sound the Foley artist has worked on, see every piece of decor and every costume. What I do not want is for any other viewer to interrupt my 90-120 minutes of silence and enjoyment. Watching movies is both a very private and shared experience. Even when I am watching them with other people, be it one other person in the quiet of my home, or a whole theater full, there is still an element of personal experience.
I am known amongst my friends to be someone who has a strict set of rules when it comes to watching movies. I like these rules to be followed, otherwise people are banished, allowed to only watch certain movies with me or none at all. My ideal movie theater setting is no talking and no food. I want to be able to hear the projector working. I used to fantasize about opening my own theater that would not allow food or talking and operated on a “3 strikes you’re out” rule. Ultimately, I don’t think that would work. Maybe for certain screenings. Enough about that.
First, I will be generous and give some examples of movies that it is okay to talk during.
Certain movies call for talking, or are open to feedback during viewing. Movies that are deliberately funny or so bad that they need to be made fun of, and I think most people would agree that the majority of horror/slasher* films can take the occasional yell at the screen, are open to remarks. Remember, talking over the entire damn thing isn’t necessarily fun either.
Examples of movies it is okay to comment on:
1. Troy (2004) – Wolfgang Peterson directing duped me into thinking this would be a great epic along the lines of Spartacus (1960). Instead, I had to watch Brad Pitt do a power stance while throwing a spear at least 1000 times. That wasn’t even the most terribly hilarious part. I am really not sure what is most pathetic about this movie: the fact that certain key elements of the story were changed, like Achilles’ lover being made his cousin; the bad CGI that I am certain took a lot of time and money to “perfect;” or my personal favourite – the constant zooming that made it seem like maybe Peterson had actually directed this move in 1974. Only Wes Anderson knows how to use that zoom effectively. And ironically.
2. Spider-man 3 (2007) – This movie was so bad that my anger almost prevented me from commenting. I was literally seething in my seat. It was almost as bad as Eragon (2006), which was so bad I almost cried. Peter Parker went all 1970’s and I had to laugh A LOT. (The friends I saw it with knew I hated the movie once I started talking in the theater). The only redeeming thing about this movie was James Franco. Like Ewan McGregor in the Star Wars trilogy I-III, Franco can act with a green screen behind him. But even he isn’t enough for me to watch it again.
3. Saw II (2005) – This is the only Saw movie I have seen. I began laughing as the opening credits rolled. I also felt the need to warn some people of their stupidity. Some people really just need to know that they are idiots. I had high hopes for Donnie Wahlberg after The Sixth Sense (1999), talk about someone stealing the show. I would argue that Jeepers Creepers (2001) requires the most shouting and laughter out of any horror movie though. “No! Do not investigate that!!!” seemed to come out of my mouth a lot when I watched it.
* Horror/Slasher films include titles such as Halloween, Friday the 13th, Amityville Horror, and any scary movie in a series, particularly if it gets beyond a trilogy. Then it just becomes silly. This is not to be confused with thrillers like Wait Until Dark (1967), Frenzy (1972), or The Game (1997). These movies require silent focus and sometimes the ability to figure things out. So shut up!
I would argue that most action movies are also open to immediate viewer response. Movies from the Die Hard series are fun, action-filled, have great lines, and do not require complete silence. Other examples of action movies it is okay to talk/comment during:
1. Commando (1985) – Yes, I took us back 24 years. This is a great movie. Schwarzenegger is at top form in terms of his looks and this is before his dialogue was reduced solely to cheesy lines. I blame Joel Schumacher for that mess. This movie has a nice balance of action and comic relief – not of the Jar Jar Binks variety either, which is never nice, just obnoxious. A guy gets killed by a huge pipe! Amazing. The fact that the main villain wears a mesh shirt and has a gut but thinks he can defeat Arnold is hilarious on its own.
2. AVP: Alien vs. Predator (2004) – At this point in both series the movies have gone far beyond frightening science fiction thriller (though Predator (1987) is more of an action movie, the best action movie ever made, but that is a different story) and into the realm of ridiculous that it is impossible not to rejoice in the idiocy. Things like the Predator joining forces with a human and bonding almost romantically call for severe and immediate commentary. Also laughter. This movie does get mad points for having a female hero who happens to be a person of colour.
3. Speaking of Joel Schumacer/Schumockery? Batman Forever (1995) and Batman & Robin (1997) – These two movies turned Batman into a laughable and comic hero. All seriousness and darkness was removed from the character in favour of a disco land filled with beyond wacky henchman who, let’s face it, are even more useless than the ones in the cartoon series. Apparently Burton was too dark for the series, well, Schumacer was way too in over his head and turned one of the most fierce and disturbing superheroes into a pathetic and boring rich guy who seems to have nothing better to do with this time than mope around and have flashbacks. These movies don’t even deserve to be watched. But if you do, put on your game face, and prepare to make some harsh remarks. Additionally, George Clooney is the worst Batman ever, but he has since made up for it with other stellar performances. But George, people don’t forget.
When it comes to comedies, I think most people make the mistake of assuming all are open to commentary. That is not the case. Comedies, when done well, definitely call for laughter, but not talking. Spoofs such as the Scary Movie or Hot Shots series will not be ruined by a few comments here and there, but well written, acted, and directed comedies such as Welcome to the Dollhouse (1995), Dogma (1999), or Lord Love a Duck (1966) do not require a soundtrack. Soundtracks have been provided by the director, thank you.
Now, rules to be followed when watching a movie/film with Aman:
1. No talking.
2. No questions. Copied here is an exchange from The Big Lebowski (1998) – a movie that no matter how many times I have seen it, does not ever warrant viewer talking:
Walter Sobchak: Were you listening to The Dude’s story, Donny?
The Dude: Walter…
Walter Sobchak: Were you listening to The Dude’s story?
Donny: I was bowling.
Walter Sobchak: So you have no frame of reference here, Donny. You’re like a child who wanders into the middle of a movie and wants to know..
Yes, I am on Walter’s side.
Good Will Hunting (1997) also has a great scene that demonstrates the stupidity of most viewers – a listener in this particular case – and why questions should not be asked. Chuckie (Ben Affleck) tells a story he has told before, yet Morgan (Casey Affleck), who has admitted to hearing the story before, ask questions:
Chuckie: No, some, some…You’ve heard this story before…Some other guy’s car had hit a tree. Okay, there was an accident. Anyway.
Morgan: How can he hear the other —
Chuckie: Shut the fuck up! Shut up. Okay. Shut up.
Billy: You’re driving me nuts, Morgan. He told you this story once before, Morgan.
Morgan: All right, Chuck. What the fuck is the point to your story?
Chuckie: Well, he got away. That’s the point.
Morgan: Well, question. Are you –are you–?
Billy: Com’on, stop it.
Morgan: I’m trying to clarify something probably you’re too embarrassed to ask cus’ you know it doesn’t make any sense.
Billy: It does make sense if you listen to the story and quit asking questions.
3. (Thank you Rhiannon for pointing out my epic failure by forgetting this.) Do NOT be late and miss the previews. Really, I won’t wait for you anyway. I will save you a seat and tell you where I am, but I refuse to miss the previews. If I do not get to see the previews I am in a miserable mood and cannot enjoy the movie. Try me. See what happens.
See, there are only three rules. Three rules cannot be that hard to follow. I even left off no eating.
I just saw Moon (2009) yesterday. By myself. It was lovely. I knew that there was no one I wanted to the watch it with. You know why? I wanted to take it all in. I did not even want another person’s presence to distract me.
Save your comments and your questions for the end.
What makes you think that I want to hear what you have to say over the film’s dialogue, ambient sound, and music? What makes you think I want to answer your question, or that I even have an answer? Remember, if I am (also) seeing it for the first time, chances are, I don’t know either.