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Arthouse in the Frathouse

7 August 1999 by Gnoll No Comment

ARTHOUSE FILMS IN FRATHOUSE THEATERS
by Noel Wood

Twice now, in the course of two weeks, I have been utterly disgusted with a concrete-and steel structure that I once adored and admired. Two incidents during these two weeks have caused me to pull my hair from its roots, mumbling profanities beneath my breath and being thoroughly embarrassed to be a member of the human race at points. What could be this terrible to cause such anguish over a simple building? Well, I guess it would help if I told you what the building is.

AMC Colonial 18, Lawrenceville, Georgia.

Yes, it’s a big horkin’ multiplex theater in the suburbs. Always has been. And no, it hasn’t changed since the days when I pined for the chance to see a film on one of its oversized, concave screens from the comfort of my stadium-arranged-business-class-sized seat. But something else has. I guess the fact of the matter is that I chose to see the wrong films there.

Week one: Stanley Kubrick’s long-awaited final film, EYES WIDE SHUT.

Week two: Much-buzzed low budget indie sleeper, THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT.

Now I enjoyed the hell out of both films, but my point here is not to review them. Rather, I’d like to review the conditions of my theater of choice. For starters, the seats were rather comfortable and spacious, my view of the screen was fantastic and unscathed by heads, the sound was superb, and the climate control couldn’t be any more perfect.

So what disturbed me? The people I shared the theater with.

Idiots. Degenerates. Assholes. Uncouth, disrespectful bottom-feeders who almost ruined the entire movie experience for me. Troglodytic ingrates who had the nerve to ruin an art form that I so adore by acting like rabid animals.

If you were one of the people in said theater, then I cast shame and misfortune on you and pray for your inability to breed. If you were that asshole who sat next to me during Blair Witch crunching on your Goobers and speaking incessantly, then I have no remorse for you. If you were the bastard who sat behind me during EWS kicking the back of my chair and commenting on every pair of naked breasts you witnessed, then I hope you wrecked your automobile on your way home. Forget that half of the EWS crowd walked out before the third reel, It was the ones who stayed until the credits rolled and then shouted “What a piece of shit!” at first opporitunity that bugged me. For all those morons who screamed out “That shit wasn’t scary!” during Blair Witch, I have nothing but contempt. A friend of mine actually told me that a football game-type “BULL-SHIT!” chant started up in his theater (not suprisingly, in the same multiplex) showing BWP.

Here’s the message to the ones I address, and I’m going to sound like a complete snob for saying this, but here goes anyway: Those films weren’t made for you. Those films were made for the good people of this world whose mission in seeing a movie isn’t only to laugh at a string of dick jokes and how many times the fat guy falls down and utters a token expletive. It’s unfortunate that these people were drawn in by the buzz of these two highly touted films and weren’t able to understand what they were trying to convey.

It’s not always a problem to see a movie in the suburban wasteland of Lawrenceville amongst beeper-worshipping and bass-booming adolescent idiots. I saw STAR WARS Episode One there twice, and wasn’t bothered at all by the crowds. That’s the type of movie that you can clear your mind and enjoy shallowly if you so choose. I wanted audience participation then, I don’t when one of the most disturbing thrillers I’ve ever seen is reaching a Hi-8 climax. I rather enjoyed being sucked in to THE MATRIX at Colonial 18 along with 500 complete strangers. I didn’t enjoy listening to people bitch about how boring one of the most beautifully shot archetypal statements of marital fidelity ever made was. It’s called respect, and if not for the filmmakers who labored over their craft, simply for the guy who just shelled out 8 bucks to see said movie sitting right in front of you.

Well, $4.50, at least. Student discounts come in handy, and almost makes me forgive the experience.

But I’ve learned my lesson. When Jarmusch’s new film comes out, I’ll be vying for a chance to see it at that little two-screen relic of a theater in Midtown. When the latest David Lynch film hits theaters, I’ll be sure to drive the extra fifteen minutes to see it at some overpriced arthouse with a French name, just to avoid putting up with you ninnys. Yes, I’ll probably gut laugh myself to death over Adam Sandler and Ben Stiller having a farting contest or something along those lines with you guys and be perfectly content to do so, but you won’t see me trying to justify the work of Scorcese for you anymore.

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