List: 5 Other Annoying Things About Going to the Cinema 9 111

Thoughts On Film - List - 5 OTHER Annoying Things About Going to the Cinema

I love going to the cinema. For me nothing beats sitting down in a giant dark room  to watch a movie on the big screen with the booming surround sound. I’m sure many of you share the sentiment (or am I just being sappy?).

However, as much as I love going to the movies there are many, many things about the experience that annoy the hell out of me. Of course there’s the obvious ones like people using their phone (phone calls and texting aside, the general light pollution it causes is beyond infuriating), noisy/smelly food, overpriced tickets, people commentating on the movie as if they made the damn thing and so forth.

But what else is there to annoy the rest of us who just want to watch the movie in peace? We’ve listed a group of the worst offenders below.

Why do I have to wait in THIS line?!

This is a problem that occurs before you even get near your comfy viewing seat. Picture the scene: You arrive half an hour before a movie is scheduled to start (more on scheduling later) and notice the place is pretty busy. You go up to wait in line to buy your ticket and are stuck standing there for a good 15-20 minutes as the people in front you seemingly decide to buy one of every food and drink item on the menu. Or at least that’s what it seems like because you’re standing there so long.

Why is there no separate line for people who want to buy tickets and people who want concessions? This is a problem found only at certain cinemas while others have been courteous enough to offer two separate purchasing areas with two separate economic functions. But when you turn up to see a movie at a cinema which does have the problem, you’re already there, it’s too late to choose a different establishment. You have no real choice but to suffer through the waiting.

Somebody turn off the lights!

This is an increasingly common problem that’s just as irritating the 30th time as it is the first. You get yourself comfortable in your chair, ready for that familiar feeling of the lights dimming down and the adverts starting (more on that later) and then realize there’s still an annoying bright light that hasn’t been switched off right above your head. You wait. And you wait. And you wait. No one wants to be the one to go out and complain but eventually someone does and the brightness suddenly slams off like a floodlight in an action movie. Or sometimes it doesn’t happen quite so quickly and you’re stuck with this glaring light for a portion of the movie’s opening sequence until eventually it’s turned off and all is finally as it should be. If I wanted to watch a movie with that sort of distraction I’d go watch one on my iPod while standing under a lamp post.

Of all the seats in all the cinemas…

If you’re like me and you like to seek out the film showings most likely to make for a relatively empty auditorium then this unfortunate problem should seem sadly familiar. You spend a minute or two scanning the near empty rows of seats to find the perfect seat in terms of being far enough away from the screen but not too far, eye-level exactly right. You have yourself settled and then out of the corner of your eye you notice one, or two, or three (etc.) people come in and start heading up the stairs. Nah, there’s no way they’ll choose a seat near me, the place is empty! Or so you’d think. Nope, they decide of all the seats in the place to choose one of the ones in front of you to sit on. What to do now? If you move it might seem rude, if you stay your previously perfect seating choice is utterly ruined. This is a problem of inconsideration. If you’re guilty of causing this problem I politely ask you to think before you sit.

Wasn’t this movie supposed to have started by now?

This is one of my absolute biggest pet peeves when it comes to going to the movies. The cinema listings say a movie starts at 9pm, for example, and so you turn up in plenty time for that specified starting point. You enjoy/internally scream in annoyance at the music they play before that starting time for any early-birds patiently waiting for the movie to start (remember, they turned up early to get a good seat before someone sat in front of them and they had to move). You look at your watch just as it turns 9, when the cinema said the movie was going to start. But what’s this? No movie but advert after advert after bloody advert selling you everything from cars to deodorant. This isn’t what you paid your ticket price for, to sit through 10-15 minutes of completely unrelated advertising.

It’s different from everyday advertising where you pass posters and billboards trying to get you to buy things because you’re not forced to look at them. In a cinema you’re a captive audience and are being forced to watch ads for things which aren’t movie-related (for the most part). You wouldn’t expect to walk into a clothes shop and before getting to look at that new jacket you came in to buy you were sat down and forced to watch movie trailers, would you? 10-15 minutes of those trailers follow those cinema adverts but this is completely understandable because they are at least are advertising to you other movies which you might want to go see in the future. When you turn up for a movie which is supposed to start at 9pm and it doesn’t actually start until 9:30pm something is very wrong.

It ain’t over ’til it’s over.

The fifth and final problem on this list is another audience problem. It never used to happen as much (or maybe I was too young to notice/care) but it’s become annoyingly common. You’ve sat through almost the entire movie you paid to see and it’s clear, as is often the case, that it’s about to come to an end. But since you paid your (overpriced) ticket you’re going to stay until the credits start rolling. Why wouldn’t you? But not everyone feels that way. It doesn’t usually happen en masse but at least one person, usually someone with shopping bags for some reason, will get up and start walking out before the credits. Are they in that much of a hurry that they can’t stick it out till the end? Perhaps they are, on occasion, but it happens almost every single time I visit the cinema. Often it’s the damn person who irritatingly sat in front of me when there were plenty of other seats available, in which case I get to enjoy a view of them stumbling their way out of the aisle as I try to catch the final line of movie dialogue. Typical…

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Do you ever find yourself falling victim to one of the above cinema-going annoyances? What other alternative issues have you experienced? Let us know in the comments below!

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I’m a freelance film reviewer and blogger with over 10 years of experience writing for various different reputable online and print publications. In addition to my running, editing and writing for Thoughts On Film, I am also the film critic for The National, the newspaper that supports an independent Scotland, covering the weekly film releases, film festivals and film-related features.

I have a passion for all types of cinema, and have a particular love for foreign language film, especially South Korean and Japanese cinema. Favourite films include The Big Lebowski, Pulp Fiction and 2001: A Space Odyssey.

9 Comments

  1. I’ve only had the joint ticket/concessions thing happen at very small independent theatres, or extremely slow times of an off-day (like 1pm on a Thursday or something), when they shunt the box office line into the concessions line because there’s only like two customers there anyway. For the most part, theatres here have completely separate box office and concessions lines, largely because the box office is almost always outside the theatre, and the concessions are inside. That arrangement could be a function of our weather, but even when I lived in St. Louis, where it gets quite cold in winter, the box office was always physically separated from the concessions, even if both were indoors.

    I’ve had the light thing happen maybe twice ever. Same with technical difficulties delaying the film. The advertising thing used to be more of a problem than it is now – most of the time now I think the ads play as part of the pre-show, and then right at the 9:00 mark (in your example), the trailers start. Now, they can still run 15-20 minutes worth of trailers, which sometimes gets to be a bit much, but I haven’t seen full-on ads for other things during the showtime for probably ten years. I guess you Brits just need to complain about it more. :p

    Wait, people leave BEFORE the credits start? I don’t think I’ve ever seen that. Los Angeles is unusual in that generally at least half the audience will stay all the way until the end of the credits (other places I’ve lived, I’m usually the only one staying), but everywhere I’ve lived, people at least wait until the credits start rolling, and most of the time they wait until the scrolling credits start.

    You’re going to some shady theatres, my friend. :p

    1. Perhaps American theatres are just better at fixing these problems, because all of these five things happen a lot. I guarantee you it’s not just me.

      The ads thing in particular doesn’t work that way here. There’s music playing beforehand, just radio songs or whatever, and at the start time there’s adverts followed by an equal duration of trailers. It’s ridiculous.

      1. No American cinemas haven’t fixed the problems either. I have my fair share of issues with all of these same things. Not so much the concessions/tickets thing because all of the cinemas I go to have those two things separate. But we do have the problem with all of the advertisements before the trailers too. If I wanted commercials I would stay home!!!! The light thing has happened to me a few times and people leave before the movie is over ALL THE TIME!!!! It’s ridiculous!!!!

      1. I know we’re spoiled in LA – cinemas in all other cities should just come here and learn how it’s done!

        I can remember having ads before the trailers, within the time specified as “show time,” but I literally haven’t seen that for years. We usually go to an AMC theatre, and they have a pre-show that runs for about 15-30 minutes before the show starts, showing behind the scenes clips for various upcoming TV shows and movies, then they usually have one or two ads for phones or something and concessions, then showtime hits, the lights dim, and trailers start.

        The other theater we go to often is Arclight, and it’s a premium theatre – you pay about $4 more, but there are NO ads, no pre-show, and usually only two trailers.

        1. @Jandy

          you’re spoiled in LA simply by having the El Capitan theatre in Hollywood.
          Went there on holiday to see Brave…every cinema chain in the world should learn from them – THAT is how you screen a kids film. Excellent stuff

          Back on topic, yes these things annoy me. Went with friends to see Ted the other day and three girls sat in the same row as us (we were by the aisle) wanted in and out maybe three times during the film, and then also did the “leave before the credits” thing. JEEZE!

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Movie Review: Home Again 0 358

This review was previously published at The National.

Despite an obviously talented leading lady in Reese Witherspoon and a family pedigree behind the camera in making this sort of rom-com flutter sweetly off the screen, Home Again struggles to finds its way out of cloying cliché and narrative contrivance.

This is the directorial debut of Hallie Myers-Shyer, daughter of genre stalwart Nancy Meyers (The Holiday, What Women Want). It focuses on the life of Alice Kinney (Witherspoon), a single mum who has just turned 40 and tries her best to raise her two daughters Isabel (Lola Flanery) and Rosie (Eden Grace Redfield) in Los Angeles with her job as an interior decorator.

Freshly separated from her British music mogul husband Austen (Michael Sheen), she embarks on a drunken birthday night celebration that leads to her meeting a trio of 20-something lads – Harry (Pico Alexander), George (Jon Rudnitsky) and Teddy (Nat Wolff) – who are trying their best to break into the Hollywood movie business.

The young men improbably end up staying in Alice’s guest house while they work on finishing the script for their first film. Before long they become an integral part of her life, from Alice embarking on a romantic relationship with Harry to George helping out Isabel with her school play. To quote the title of the director’s mother’s 2009 film – it’s complicated.

Except the film mistakes the kind of enjoyably frothy complexity exemplified by the best of the genre for skin-clawing convolution that renders much of the romantic and comedically-tinged drama of Alice’s life lacking in authenticity. Not that it needs the ring of truth that comes with, say, a Ken Loach picture but you need to be able to invest and believe in these characters’ lives as presented.

The approach to gender and generational relationships is simplistic which, of course, is nothing new to a genre that, at least in its Hollywoodized state, so often throws up films meant to be taken as easy-going fluff. But it’s particularly frustrating here when it squanders the potential thrown up with the initial concept of a woman trying to find herself again once she’s out of a stale relationship by entering into one with a much younger man.

It strangely seems far more interested in the plight of the three young men working as three cogs of one creative machine – director/producer, writer and actor – to get ahead in the movie business.  But even then it smacks of implausibility, like a cheap rom-com version of the bromance found in Entourage but without any of the snarky wit or Hollywood satire. Despite decent chemistry between a likeable assembled cast, Home Again is a tough pill to swallow as it rings false through and through.

3.5 out of 10

Movie Review: Goodbye Christopher Robin 0 388

This review was previously published at The National.

The world of celebrated children’s author A. A. Milne and the creation of his beloved Winnie the Pooh stories are chronicled in this frightfully polite biopic from director Simon Curtis (My Week with Marilyn) that flirts with dipping its toes into darker waters but steadfastly clings to safe tropes and always with its top button firmly fastened.

We start off in 1941 where we find an ageing Milne (Domhnall Gleeson in questionable make-up and greyed hair) and his wife Daphne (Margot Robbie) living on their secluded East Sussex farm. They receive a telegram informing them that their son, C.R. Milne, is missing presumed dead after heading off to fight in World War Two.

We then jump back in time to Milne on the front lines of the First World War. He returns from the fighting a changed man; suffering from PTSD (popped balloons evoking sudden gunfire et al.), becoming increasingly sick of just making people laugh with his West End plays and the general hustle-bustle that comes with big city life.

He convinces his reluctant wife to move to the country for some peace and quiet and where his infant son, Christopher Robin (played by Will Tilston at the younger age, Alex Lawther as he gets older), can go on the childhood adventures he deserves with the support of loving nanny Olive (Kelly Macdonald).

Settling into the kind of serene life he craves, he is inspired to create Winnie the Pooh and the rest of his soon-to-be-beloved friends inspired by the stuffed animals with which his young son has become so enamoured. Unfortunately for Christopher – referred to by everyone as “Billy Moon” – his father uses his real name in the stories, turning him into one of the most famous boys in the nation.

Despite the obvious attraction of it exploring the world famous Pooh stories, it’s a film much more interested in the effect it has on a fractured family clinging on to peacefulness, not least the unwanted attention thrust upon a young boy who simply isn’t equipped to handle it and how his parents carry on oblivious.

If anything it takes a curiously bleak outlook on what these stories mean to the world once they’ve been put out there, conveying a somewhat confusing message for a film that ultimately wants us to celebrate these stories as immortally cherished tales; that the Winnie the Pooh embraced immediately by the public and has now stood the test of time for almost a century is in some way missing the point of what it truly means to the author and a son who, inadvertently or not, was used as a tool of innocence to sell the idea of an idyllic childhood in Milne’s Hundred Acre Wood.

It’s bolstered by almost uniformly moving performances; Gleeson plays Milne with a kind of damaged empathy that makes you feel like you get to know the author beyond the public persona. Macdonald is oftentimes heart-breaking as Christopher’s devoted caregiver and Tilston walks away with the film as the adorably sweet-natured young Christopher. It’s only with Robbie that the film makes a misstep; she’s miscast as Milne’s wife and never stepping out of the shadow of cold motherly cliché.

In spite of its darker leanings, the film remains too buttoned up to properly wrestle with those themes in any sort of lasting way, far too polite to ever dive head first into the murky waters into which the drama intermittently peers.

Wrapped in Ben Smithard’s handsomely old-fashioned cinematography and soaked in Carter Burwell’s perpetually swelling score, it’s an aesthetically and emotionally appealing but nevertheless fairly vanilla period biopic best suited to being enjoyed on a rainy Sunday afternoon with tea and biscuits.

6.5 out of 10