Monday, 13 July 2009

Films, Cinema, Going Out & Staying In

We have been talking about going to see a film recently. Not sure what – the selection appears to have been narrowed down to the latest Harry Potter, Bruno, or Ice Age 3. It would appear, however, from our speculative musings that we have not been to the cinema for over a year – the last film being Indiana Jones and the Whatever it Was. The truth is that we’ve been busy – really busy – plus the fact that there hasn’t been a standout film that we were prepared to go out of our way to view. And that's the thing - to have to go out of your way that tends to be the deal clincher these days.

Petrol, stress in the car, traffic – you can get depressed before you even get to the place. Parking – always fun. Then, getting hold of the tickets (usually overpriced) and timing it just right not to arrive too early that you are standing around for hours but early enough that you get a half-decent seat. Then there is the predilection to gorge oneself with an assortment of chocolate, peanuts, popcorn, burgers, candyfloss, crisps, nachos, pick n’mix, coke, diet coke (!), lemonade, pizza, beer and whatever else is no offer. You then have to carry your trough of greed through a line of fat bodies, whilst items of junk food leak precariously over into the laps of the other cinema goers (actually, we don’t really eat much, but you get the idea). Next comes the gradual irritation that builds from the constant chatting all around, whilst an endless stream of adverts play. This is followed by an assortment of half-a-dozen trailers to diabolical films that you would never consider watching in a million years, but which are cut and edited (and narrated over by that bloke with the extraordinarily deep voice – “It was a time of heroes ..etc..”) to look vaguely attractive. Finally, just as your mind is about to slip into jaded oblivion, the main picture is announced and as the opening credits appear, you realise that you are now desperate for the toilet...

Anyway, you get the idea. I haven’t even bothered to include the bit about the punch-up that follows the inevitable request for the people sitting in front of you to shut up whilst the film is on. The problem is that, other than the fact that it is an opportunity to “go out” and the fact that the screen is massive, there is almost no reason why anyone would really want to go through the trauma of visiting the cinema when a DVD can be bought for less than the cost of the cinema ticket, without having to leave the house, get in the car, or spend a fortune on rubbish, and when it can be paused and rewound at the click of a button. Now, I know that this sounds like the most ridiculously intolerant gripe, but I genuinely believe that many people are starting to think the same way. And I am actually (as hard as this might be to believe) on the side of the cinemas, in the same way that I am on the same side of pubs, clubs, hotels and restaurants across the United Kingdom.

For a plethora of reasons, going out has become a hassle. A pain. An inconvenience. If these places are to survive, then someone – and I’m pointing in the direction of a higher entity than just the cinema manager – needs to do something – anything – to make it more enjoyable. Quite what they do is another matter entirely. As far as I was aware, the European Humans Rights Acts forbids us as a nation to shoot people who talk during movies, or flay drunkards alive, or throw chavs into a pit of boiling oil. Conversely, though, it is the government who continue to increase taxes on alcohol, as well as corporation tax and VAT, so they must share some of the blame. In fact, they also allow thousands more people to flood into our country every month, which means that the sheer overcrowding of the roads and infrastructure does not lend itself to making a quick journey down the road. In fact, as I probably demonstrated with my recent blog posting, The Story of a Key, I don’t think such a concept is possible anymore.

So, really, why would you want to go out?

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