In which freshman correspondent Dan D’Addario explains the perils of (gasp!) leaving campus to watch a movie at Midtown.
On a recent Sunday night, I decided to indulge a strange passion of mine – going alone to the movies. I think I decided this was a great idea when I read a New Yorker essay a few years back by one of the literary Jonathans in Brooklyn entitled “Alone at the Movies.” Going alone to the movies is more than just socially awkward and weird; it’s both an act of rebellion and a means of more fully experiencing the film through one’s own eyes. I’m going to assume, though, that Jonathan Franzen / Ames / Lethem / Safran Foer did not go to the 8:35 showing of Little Children at the AMC Lincoln Square.
The Lincoln Square itself is a great theater. The seats are roomy, the bag-searching policy is lax enough to provide for cheap Raisinets to be munched at pivotal plot points, and the random displays of costumes from films from the late eighties and early nineties will make you think you’re at the Planet Hollywood in Omaha. Indeed, it’s what a movie theater should be.
However, one disadvantage to physically going to see a movie as opposed to getting a bootleg of reasonable quality is the ambient noise. When I saw Little Children, this ambient noise took the form of a large thirtyish man, holding a laptop in his lap while juggling popcorn, Sour Patch Kids, and a large Coke. We’ll call him “Louis.”
Louis: “So, what’s this movie about?”
Dan: “Um, it’s about the suburbs.”
Louis: “Wow, that sounds boring. Hoo-wee! Bor-ING!”
Dan: “…Why’d you pay for it?”
Louis: “Well, it was the only thing playing at this time. And I wanted to go to the movies at 8:30. You see, I’m a screenwriter. My movie’s coming out next year. It’s about… well, it’s a biography. Of a man called Reginald. You probably don’t know who he is.”
The trailers started, blessedly, and I thought they’d cut Louis off. (Though I was sad he’d distracted me from “Screen Scramblers” – who’d have guessed “Ujlia Orberst” was “Julia Roberts”?!). But he kept talking through the trailers, and then talked through the movie. He questioned every action Kate Winslet made (“She needs to take better care of her KID. You know?”), and shouted “What the FUCK!” during her sex scene… to me. I was expected to respond in kind, and after a certain point, polite half-nods weren’t doing the trick.
“Would you please… quiet down? I’m trying to watch the movie.” Our bond had been broken. After the movie had ended, I ran out. I actually ran the two blocks to the subway stop, for fear Louis had been following me with more intelligent critique of Todd Field’s directing at 120 decibels.
The moral of this story? Only weird people go to Midtown to see a movie. Next time, I’m going to the Magic Johnson. Unless I decide to brave midtown to go to the Lincoln Plaza – I’m guessing that there aren’t many chatty people at an art theater. Maybe they’ll screen Louis’s biopic of Reginald there; surely it’ll have some good dialogue.