Movie Theater Manners (or Lack Thereof)

Watching movies in a movie theater (read big screen) is an experience that I love and much enjoy. But one that can be easily ruined mainly by other people. I don’t know what expectations these people have when they go to a movie theater, but to me, when in a theater I try to keep to myself and minimize my impact on my surroundings.

When I say surroundings I mean people, seats, floor, food, everything. Oh, yes, food. How did chomping on popcorn become associated with movie watching? What compels people to purchase overpriced bad popcorn and ridiculously diluted soda? What compels people to chomp and slurp? How can they not realize it is annoying?

Bad habits, yes.  Generations of people being brought up with the conviction that the world is theirs to conquer. An attitude evident from the movie-going crowd to the foreign policy. It might be useful to boost youngsters’ self-confidence telling them they can be whatever they want to be, but it can also be useful to teach them that they should respect other people, because unfortunately, we have to share this world. I know, it sucks, but that’s how it is. There’s a fine line between ruthless go-getters, and obnoxious. Evidently some people think the world is their playground, but sorry to have to break it to you, the movie theater is not your living room. No, you cannot be as comfortable as you are in your livingroom. Until the time comes when movie theaters feature couches, you cannot stretch your legs while seating in a movie theater. Putting your feet up the seat in front of you is gross. (And, by the way, you are wearing these freaking stupid clogs, while you’re not a Dutch peasant and while is not Halloween). All I want to do is turn to you, smile and say as politely as I can “Would you mind putting your feet down? I’m afraid they smell really bad. Thanks!” How humiliated would you feel? Would that put the message across to your brain?

Probably not. Cause probably you were never taught good manners. Or you chose to erase them from your brain. Whether you like it or not you live in a society, meaning you have to respect some rules; this is not a desert island. It’s the same attitude that makes people yelling “liar!” while the President addresses the Congress, the same attitude making that god awful Kanye West snatching the mic away to say his sorry bit. It’s the same attitude of feeling entitled. You shouldn’t though, simply because you are not actually entitled. Not more than anybody else.

So while you take your feet off the seat in front of you, make sure that you keep quiet. Yes, you heard me, quiet. Resist the urge to turn to your companion every 5 seconds and comment or question or sigh loudly or exhale loudly. You can save it for later. And it would save us some aggravation.

And now that you masticated like a lovely bovine and the movie is over and it’s time to leave, can you take your trash with you? I mean really, what’s with leaving it behind? Is it some kind of animal territorial marking behavior, like leaving b.o. or urine behind? Unnecessary.

Unfortunately this obnoxious behavior is noticed in every theater: urban, suburban, arthouse, blockbuster. And actually it extends outside of the theater: people not covering their mouths while yawning, people talking while eating, eating with open mouth, eating like pigs while not in the confines of their house, driving without using the turn signal while turning, picking their noses while driving (yes, though you might be alone in your car, you can actually be seen by others outside your car), people cutting you off while talking, people talking endlessly and loudly…

The bottom line is that we do not have to sustain behavior that encroaches into our spatial, visual, aural space. Manner bullies, cut it out. Please. Thank you.


Students and Teachers

Sometimes I think that people can be classified either as students or teachers. Teachers are the people who are patient, calm, can explain things, like sharing knowledge, like to talk, can convey information easily and happily.

Students are people who are impatient, people who like exploring different things and learning new things all the time, people who can not sit still, who get easily bored, people who like getting better by learning.

I am definitely a student.

Short Documentary

Oh, neglected blog, chin up, here I am. I’ve been very busy lately, but that’s not a reason to stop writing, isn’t it? Well, what can I say? Among lots of other things going on, I have been working on a short documentary for Cambridge Community TV (CCTV) with three other people and our instructor. We are doing a short doc on the Out Of the Blue Gallery on Prospect Street in Central Square in Cambridge. It will air on CCTV when it’s done, and it will be on their website as well. This has been a new experience for me, and a mixed bag.

It’s been interesting to see the process of a short documentary film making, from pre-production to production and post production. In the beginning we raced through interviews and got too much b-roll footage, which of course is good. During editing we came to realize that a big part of the material was not good enough to use. One of our interviews turned out only 1 minute of usable material out of the 30 minutes we shot. The lesson learnt: when the interviewee is less than stellar, your questions have to be specifically and tightly phrased, so there is no room to roam. The camera handling was OK, but our shots seem kinda dark to me. I like the way it looks on the computer better than the way it looks on the monitor.

The most tiring thing, of course, was the editing process. It seems to be taking forever. We watch and go over the footage, try to decide what we like to use. After the decision is made and we sort of put everything together, watching the whole thing makes me think that something is missing: all of a sudden I like the material we didn’t use. And sometimes we forget exactly what material we have, and what could have been perfect for a certain scene. Back on the drawing board, back to talking about it, cause we’re a team and we have to agree and move on. The moving along process has been elusive at times. When I am on doing something I want to concentrate and I want to be done with it. Some people in my team tended to sidetrack the process, which is actually very tiring. I mean not all times are good for jokes, especially when we have to finish the damn thing in a week.

During editing one sees the things that one fails to see during shooting: the microphone playing pick a boo at the right corner, the unfortunate sitting of the subject with a bird painting in the background, in a way that it looks like the bird is picking on the talent’s head, the less than perfect sound, with lots of ambient sound and distractions, the setting on the camera that makes the heads look distorted. Did we screw up every way possible? I don’t think so, but we learnt a lot.

There are still many things to do. It’s essential to adapt and change strategy as soon as possible and of course we should not have left anything to the last minute. So, we still have a narration piece to do, and edit and edit some more and then wrap up. We have only three hours tomorrow and that’d be it. I know it’s not going to be perfect, I know it’s not going to be the way I had envisioned it to be, but I hope it turns out to something watchable and not too painfully horrible.


Once again Gail Collins puts things into perspective in her NYTimes Op-Ed:

And some people feel it was sort of weird for Barack Obama to throw himself into the fight with such ardor. They may have a point. But if the president is going to take a flier on an improbable and possibly delusional quest, I would prefer that it involve lobbying the Olympic committee rather than, say, invading a country.