Watching people get hot and sweaty on the big-screen is not the same as watching people get hot and sweaty in the row behind you.
So the big buzz in the film festival circuit is Lars Von Trier's sexual epic "Nymphomaniac" (Part One... no seriously, there's more.). I haven't seen the film, but I think we can deduce from the title that sex is the soup of the day. Or it could be ironic, and be that of a tale of a young love-scorned woman who becomes a nun, but I highly doubt it.
The principal of a cinema is that it is a large darkened room where people of all ages, races and creeds go to in order escape from reality. But in order to run away from your problems into the arms of a virtual world, you must brave your own gauntlet of perils before the opening dialogue commences.
First is buying the ticket and partaking in the never-ending discussion about which seat to sit in. This minor aspect of logistics is blown into a war of massive proportions. Oppositions on both side state their cases why front is better than back or vice versa. In war, there are often casualties, and someone has to back down and spend the evening sulking. If there is more than two people accompanying you into the cinema, this process usually takes longer than film you are actually paying to see.
Secondly, is the swallowing of your pride when you buy the popcorn. We all know it is marked up at a percentage higher than Zimbabwe's inflation rate, but we suck it up and buy it anyway. I usually at least make the cashier feel guilty about extorting me, but we all know that it's not Precious's fault.
Thirdly is the military maneuvers. You and your fellow movie-goers huddle into a circle and discuss the manner of which you are going to smuggle in the various other goodies you bought at the Shopright downstairs. Handbags, hoodies and baggy shirts are all now accessories to a crime. (Out of pride, I must state I have once managed to traffic a Debonairs pizza into a cinema; I was the talk of the town... in my own mind.) This is usually ended with a "Go Team!" and high fives all around.
Finding your seat in the darkness is it's own art all-togther. We have to evolve into higher creatures in order to read the seat numbers on our ticket using the 0.5w light bulbs they provide on the floor. Making your way to your seat is a form of gymnastics where you get marked down by every foot you stand on and every face your bum comes into contact with. An apology usually doesn't soothe the shame.
The battle for the arm rest is a game of mental fortitude. At this point politeness usually is a fleeting concept, and this minor war is usually resolved by either violence or comprise.
Another exercise of discipline is the mental game you play with your self by putting on and removing your 3D glasses to see the difference. Do not do this. It is a vicious cycle that consumes your soul and turns your heart black with addiction. You miss half the film and have to ask what just happened. Two things happen: 1) The person you just asked becomes annoyed, 2) You get SSSSSH'ed by the Woolworths mom behind you, with such finesse, it actually hurts.
Being in a darkened room seems to give both teenagers, and adults, the perception that their actions cannot be seen. A note to the pimple-faced french lovers in row G13, we all see you. And we cannot unsee what we all have just witnessed.
Another note... To the person on their cellphone, Achievement unlocked: You have managed to make an entire room of strangers hate you. Well done.
Thank you to the people who go on a first date to the movies. The thin ice melting into warm water due to uncomfortable shallow conversation and poorly executed "arm around the shoulder" makes my day every time.
I love films. It's my life, my career and my favorite form of entertainment. Going to the cinema is a religious practice by which I try and adhere as much as possible. Offscreen, theaters provide a similar amount of entertainment in the form of the weird and wonderful creatures that skulk into the cinema with their over-priced popcorn and clothes full of contraband.
P.S: I would love to know what the cleaners often find in the cinema. Maybe they form a sort of stockvel of dropped phones and uneaten McDonalds happy meals.
Follow me @byronswiegers on twitter.
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