In my first column for the digital Telegraph, I froth at the mouth about talkers, texters & slurpers at the cinema. Add your own rant to the comments at the bottom of the page! Cinema etiquette matters!

Click on the picture below (George Clooney and France McDormand in Burn After Reading) to be taken to the article via supersonic wormhole.


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    • Thanks yowns!
      I did in fact mention and post links to Kermode and Mayo’s Code in an earlier draft, but belatedly found the Telegraph had already run links to it in another piece not so long ago – which they were keen for me not to rehash – so I had to cut them.

  1. Ah, I knew there had to be a story behind it, though why they didn’t put it in a sidebar or link back to the related article is beyond me. (Esp. the latter because that would serve more ads to readers.)

    (Having just rechecked the article to make sure they didn’t, before I made a twit of myself by saying they hadn’t. All the comments have vanished, how odd! Not to worry I’ll try later with a different browser.)

    Soley in the spirit of being a bit mischievous, having a blog could give a writer (if they chose, of course), the chance to ‘add-on’ all the good stuff, that had to be trimmed for length, or that might not have been suitable for a more general audience.

    Or even to riff on one particular aspect or incident in particular, that really “got their goat” and that might have sparked the article in the first place? Similar in some sort of way to a DVD extra.

    [I’ve been racking my brain, about the nail varnish ‘Top Ten’ and I’m stumped. Apart from the obvious (ie. TBL), and the possibly obscure (though if it’s repeated more than once it’s a ‘motif’, no? Besson’s TFE), I’m adrift with out a paddle here.]

    • I’ve been the only customer in a cinema, when I woke up, everybody else had #?%$ed off and left me.

      Well it was a midnight show and it had been a long week, (it had still been a long week when I went back solo the next day to see how the film ended, failed again! 😳 )

      • I was the only spectator in the cinema at a screening of 28 Weeks Later. That was really REALLY scary! But ideal viewing conditions.

        As for links, I think website spun off from traditional newspapers are still finding their way around the internet and aren’t yet au fait with the possibilities. I had a lot more links in that piece originally (to the Alamo Drafthouse PSA video, for example, not just to their website), but they didn’t make it into the final cut. I suspect there may also be copyright issues; whereas you or I can reproduce pics and link to all sort of stuff on YouTube and whatnot without worrying too much about it, I’d imagine big media conglomeratey-type set-ups have to be a lot more careful about what they’re reproducing or linking to.

  2. It seems by bending over backwards to avoid being dogmatic or finger waggy, I’ve completely under played the point I was trying to make. Have to re-think how to remedy that.

    Anyway I didn’t pop back for that, as a throw away line, at the end of your article, you longed to listen to the audio in splendid sonic isolation (headphones). Well you can.

    There is a little bit to it, but the starting point is does the cinema have “La boucle d’induction magnétique”?

  3. The NFT used to have earphone commentaries for non-English films that arrived without subtitles. I remember the earphones being fantastically uncomfortable, and the commentaries were guaranteed to kill whatever atmosphere the film had going.

    I doubt many multiplexes have those boucles.

  4. As I understand the matter the provision of boucle d’induction magnétique, has been obligatory in France since 2006, (you’re a little further west naturally) and will become mandatory in 2015. Not that ‘mandatory’ has quite the same meaning in France as it does in England. (What was that quote from Sir Humphrey?)

    Didn’t the NFT use those dreadful ‘old school’ things with the orange pads? Like the very early walkmans? They were awful, particularly if you had any sort of elaborate couifure going on. And if the commentaries were as bad as I suspect, I can see why it might be less than impressive.

    Things have all changed considerably since, and a suitably prepared person can use their own headphones. The best might be a set of the in-ear isolating type, which shuts out all the noise around you.

    (Though if I were watching a decent horror film with them in, and someone was to tap me on the shoulder at just the wrong moment, I might jump so badly they’d need a spatula to pry me off the ceiling.)

    I looked at all the multiplexes near me and they all claim to have them, even the little bijou art centre visible from my front window has it. (I also had a look at a few cinema websites nearer your location and it’s a bit mixed, though that might be my shockingly bad grasp of French.)

    Now this is interesting (well perhaps only to me! but,) there has been a shift to infrared rather than induction (stay with me). That means it is now as cheap as frites to install, and has better sound quality.

    Hang on while I google a bit deeper……………………….

    Now this really is more interesting, (I’ll spare you the boring stuff.)

    Sennheiser do a very ‘sexy’ receiver about the size of a cameo brooch, but worn like a necklace that you can plug your own headphones into.

    Enjoying the cinema in the 21st century might have become possible again. (Just need to design a set of blinkers to deal with the light pollution problem, apparently jabbing other auidience members repeatedly with a cattle prod until they get the message is frowned upon. *Sigh*.)

    (Good grief look at the time! I was going to drop a comment into the A.B-Sec thread, but will have to do it later. Adieu.)

  5. Just to tidy up and put a ribbon round this, I rang the Art Centre to have a chat and got invited back stage to talk to the Chief Tech.

    Forget ‘induction magnétique’ it’s all about ‘la système infrarouge’.

    On a modern IR system it’s in stereo, not Dolby 5.1, but similar in quality to an Ipod. The audio is taken from the house mixer directly into the transmitter. (Yes they did have some headsets with the terrible stenographer style earpieces, that I had forgotten ever existed.) But they also had some with a neck loop induction system, that would take headphones, (couldn’t try it because there was no show due on for 90mins.)

    (Perhaps I should have got them to fix my internal compass so I’d know my East from my West. Oh dear, how dreadfully shaming.)

  6. About a year ago I took advantage of a day off work to go to my local multiplex and catch-up with a film I had missed while I was travelling abroad (‘John Carter’). I went to a Thursday morning showing and figured it would be pretty quiet as it was four or five weeks after release and the movie had not been very popular locally. It was also a morning showing on a working day.

    The film was being screened in one of the smaller theatres but there were still at least four hundred seats. With the adverts and previews rolling and with very little time to go before the movie started I was the only person in the audience. I was going to get my own private screening. How wonderful.

    Then two people more came in.

    They had 399 seats to choose from in a relatively large room occupied by only one other person.

    Q. Where did they choose to sit?

    A. In the two seats DIRECTLY in front of me.

    Why would anybody do that? Why deliberately seek to obstruct the only other customer in the place? I put this question to the two startled popcorn munchers before getting up and stomping away as far as possible from them. I am, no doubt, a magnetic personality. Perhaps there’s a genetic herd mentality in our genes.

    Recently I went to the same cinema and squeezed into a packed auditorium to enjoy ‘Skyfall’. At least I think I would have enjoyed it if the man and teenager squeezed in beside me did not have a bucket of popcorn so HUGE that it would have been possible to bath a baby in it. Why do they make them that big? The popcorn lasted the whole two hours and at no point did the munching cease. Or the tlking. Or the texting. I have no idea if the movie was any good: I was too busy burying one finger in my left ear while biting down hard on the knuckles of my right hand and thinking about the fat and salt coursing through the veins of my neighbours and the coronaries that would one day prove suitably poetic justice. Feeding a child that shit! Is that abuse?

    I have come to hate going to the cinema. This is terribly sad, I know. I have had some great memories of movie visits and I love films. I used to go at least once a week and sometimes as much as three times. These days, unless there is something I am desperate to see on first release, I’ll hang out for the BluRay/DVD and watch it at home.

    The big cinema chains here in Australia have an alternative ‘experience’ to avoid the ‘plebs’. They call it ‘Gold Class’. This involves enjoying huge, reclining armchairs set in twos in smaller auditoria with tables and drinks for each couple. Food and drinks can be preordered outside at the bar and they are delivered at they times you specified during the film. This is all very ‘first class’ and comfortable and there’s usually no noise but even this is not infallible due to the shonky practices and general ineptitude of the cinema chains. While enjoying ‘The King’s Speech’, for example, ‘Tron: Legacy’ was audible from the auditorium next door and the room was reverberating with explosions and yelling. This year at ‘The Life of Pi’ some numbskull had forgotten to set the correct lens or whatever on the projector so the 3D image remained blurred and doubled even after putting on the dreaded light absorbing glasses. THREE sprints down to the bar to raise the alarm were required to sort out that one.

    Oh, and then there’s the cost. Boxing Day 2012 – Two adults, two children. Gold Class. ‘The Hobbit’ (Christmas treat). Drinks. Seafood platter. Two extravagant ice-cream sundaes. That’ll be AU$300 for a trip to the cinema thank you. ‘The Hobbit’ DVD/BlueRay and UV combination this month was one tenth of that price.

    Welcome to home cinema ladies and gentlemen! Leave your phones in the car and your buckets of popcorn somewhere else and, hey, I’m sitting HERE, you sit over THERE and STFU!!!

  7. That all sounds totally nightmarish, and you have my sympathies. I’m fortunate enough to have flexible working hours, so I tend to go to the cinema in the afternoons, when it’s quieter… though as you say, there’s a puzzling tendency for people to come and sit down near you even if the auditorium is otherwise empty.

    I guess yet another advantage of sitting in the front row is that most other people try to avoid the front…


  9. My first cinema experience of 2014 was inauspicious: ‘The Book Thief’ at an ‘arty’ cinema with a more well behaved clientele 9usually) in the Sydney suburb of Paddington. A man across the aisle from my seat took a large plastic container from his bag and and proceeded to noisily eat his dinner as the movie began. He had stainless steel cutlery to eat with and a thermos containing a warm beverage. He brought his entire evening meal. To a cinema. He also sat with his legs stretched straight out onto the seats in front of him sealing off the empty seats in his row and the row in front of him.

    “Excuse me, mate” I said, “this is a cinema, not a restaurant. I didn’t pay $18.50 to listen to you eat and scrape around your tupperware.” He looked at me like I was mental.

    Am I?

    Was I wrong? WTF?

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