“Stop laughing at old movies, you $@%&ing hipsters”
April 29, 2015 5:44 AM   Subscribe

"I've heard horror stories of audiences guffawing through The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, The Exorcist, The Shining, 2001: A Space Odyssey, The Thing, Lawrence of Arabia and The Godfather—c'mon, The Godfather!? And perversely, the same crowds stay quiet during actual classic comedies. It's like modern audiences must one-up the past. But that's a contest where everyone loses: the filmmakers whose efforts go ignored, the hipsters who wasted their money, and the rest of us who wanted to enjoy a good movie without getting distracted wondering how to murder a yukster with a bucket of popcorn and a straw.” (Amy Nicholson writing for LA Weekly)
posted by valkane (256 comments total) 27 users marked this as a favorite
 
I suspect that she and Devin Faraci (her co-host on The Canon podcast) must have had a conversation about this very subject at some point in the very recent past, because he posted this yesterday as well: How To Watch A Movie
posted by Strange Interlude at 5:53 AM on April 29, 2015 [1 favorite]


I think there is a vicious cycle of people watching movies at home because of all the distractions in the theater, and then when they do go to the theater, they act like they are at home.

I'll admit that I laughed at a few "scary" parts in the re-release of the Exorcist ("The Version You've Never Seen!"). I'd never seen the movie before, but I think the re-edit botches the rising tension by inserting the goofy-looking "spider-walk" scene too early in the proceedings. It just broke the rest of the movie for me.
posted by He Is Only The Imposter at 5:56 AM on April 29, 2015 [3 favorites]


But it is funny. Movies and books that in a real way took advantage of our collective fears and hysteria at the time do not carry over when we learn, understand, and grow braver, wiser, and calmer.

So no, those snickering are the sophisticates. They see the attempts at emotional manipulation and treat it the right way.

I wrote a book about how lies become news and I poured through literally thousands of original reports from articles to broadcasts. What melodrama, what epic tragedy, but what malarkey: it was all made up to exploit a reporter and/or audience. Once you figure out the scam, goodbye tears, hello laughter.

It is not about feeling superior: it is about someone else thinking he is so smart, he is the only one who is in complete control of your thoughts and feelings. Not happening!

Thankful for all those gigglers who get it...keep on laughing...and for the record, I write about characters who actually do that, too!
posted by Alexandra Kitty at 6:03 AM on April 29, 2015 [28 favorites]


If Regan crab-walking backwards in the Exorcist director's cut didn't make your heart skip, I don't know what to say.
posted by Renoroc at 6:05 AM on April 29, 2015 [5 favorites]


I feel like there's something to his complaint, and I've definitely been perturbed by people laughing at things I found moving,* but god is it hard to agree with him when he's so condescending about everyone and everything around him.

*I was in a theater where people laughed when Spock died. WHEN SPOCK DIED.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 6:07 AM on April 29, 2015 [23 favorites]


Talking during a movie in public is, and always will be, rude. But laughing? If that's your honest reaction to a movie, that's your reaction. I've often found things funny in a movie that others obviously didn't. (Sometimes I feel like Uncle Fester in this cartoon.) I think that staging a screening of a cheesy swords-and-sandals Reg Park movie with opera singers could be potentially hilarious, and if Amy Nicholson is that bugged out by it, maybe she needs to curate her own audience.
posted by Halloween Jack at 6:07 AM on April 29, 2015 [8 favorites]


It's not a new thing. I can remember going to see "The Manchurian Candidate" when it was re-released in the 1980s after a 20-odd-year hiatus (due to sensitivity about the sniper stuff in the wake of the Kennedy assassination), and being very annoyed at people laughing at things that were clearly not originally meant as laughs.
posted by briank at 6:07 AM on April 29, 2015 [6 favorites]


Sounds like old people getting offended that the public's critical acumen has grown more sophisticated.
posted by ChuckRamone at 6:07 AM on April 29, 2015 [3 favorites]


Given that the LA Opera themselves advertised the event as appealing to fans of Mystery Science Theatre 3000 and the Rocky Horror Picture Show, I don't see how the audience was behaving inappropriately.
posted by IjonTichy at 6:10 AM on April 29, 2015 [27 favorites]


Are counterhipsters as bad as hipsters? Discuss.
posted by ostranenie at 6:11 AM on April 29, 2015 [3 favorites]


Hipster is a meaningless term so...
posted by Ferreous at 6:12 AM on April 29, 2015


Comedy is tough. Old cartoons hold up exceptionally well - Coyote and Roadrunner, man - because they have both timing and wit.

For more mature fare, like the Marx Brothers, Laurel and Hardy or Abbot and Costello, there are some issues with pacing that make them inaccessible to modern audiences despite the razor sharp dialog. There's also the issue where the straight-man is usually too straight and wooden (Marx Bros. are especially guilty of this). I loved Jerry Lewis and Don Knotts and Bob Hope movies when I was a kid... they don't hold up too well as an adult.

Looney Tunes and MGM and Disney and Popeye (especially the rougher, earlier Popeyes) hold up rock solid, provided you steer clear of the ones that are too rife with problematic prejudice issues. I didn't like the Three Stooges as a kid, but they're amazing as an adult.
posted by Slap*Happy at 6:12 AM on April 29, 2015 [15 favorites]


I'll admit that I laughed at a few "scary" parts in the re-release of the Exorcist ("The Version You've Never Seen!").

I think that might be an indication of how subjective some of her grievances are. I don't disagree that laughing all the way through a movie like Godfather is uncalled for and rude, but I also would think that if someone had laughed during the spider-walk scene would be pretty rude and potentially ruining as well, as I thought that was one of the scariest part of the film the first time I ever saw it (granted I was 13 or 14 during the re-release.)
posted by griphus at 6:13 AM on April 29, 2015 [3 favorites]


OK, I'm calling it.

New rule: If the word "hipster" is central to your thesis, you have nothing worthwhile to say.
posted by mhoye at 6:13 AM on April 29, 2015 [48 favorites]


Also this is why I only go to revival houses at like noon on a Sunday when it is almost guaranteed there will be at most two other people in the audience and they will both be like 90 years old.
posted by griphus at 6:14 AM on April 29, 2015 [18 favorites]


If he had led off with an account of people laughing at The Godfather, I'd have sympathy. But Hercules in The Haunted World? There's a reason Joel and the Bots used so many Hercules movies. Some of them are pretty damn goofy.
posted by AlonzoMosleyFBI at 6:14 AM on April 29, 2015 [4 favorites]


Sounds like old people getting offended that the public's critical acumen has grown more sophisticated

*spit take*
posted by overeducated_alligator at 6:15 AM on April 29, 2015 [41 favorites]


My wife and I laughed a few times during Gravity. We couldn't help it. If filmmakers don't want us to laugh they should stop making things ridiculous.

I'm not sure what a hipster is but I know what it isn't: my wife and I.
posted by bondcliff at 6:15 AM on April 29, 2015 [11 favorites]


*spit take*

*laughter!*
posted by Gelatin at 6:16 AM on April 29, 2015 [2 favorites]


I think many horror fans would despise the notions that 1) we should treat every cheap scare seriously if the movie is sufficiently old and well-regarded and 2) that we should severely limit audience interaction with films in theaters. I hate idiots in movie theaters as much as anyone, but this seems to misunderstand how horror movies work.
posted by almostmanda at 6:16 AM on April 29, 2015 [7 favorites]


I try to watch old/classic movies in the theater every chance I get and I haven't really encountered this behavior very often. I saw Keaton's The General with a full theater of families and kids and everyone laughed at the gags and gasped at the stunts. Maybe Pittsburgh audiences aren't as jaded as LA ones.
posted by octothorpe at 6:19 AM on April 29, 2015 [2 favorites]


So no, those snickering are the sophisticates. They see the attempts at emotional manipulation and treat it the right way.

They are imposing their own sophistication on others in a way that spoils others' experience of the movie. That's not sophistication, that's boorishness.
posted by jayder at 6:19 AM on April 29, 2015 [42 favorites]


But it is funny. Movies and books that in a real way took advantage of our collective fears and hysteria at the time do not carry over when we learn, understand, and grow braver, wiser, and calmer.
Alexandra Kitty

Thank God we've grown so sophisticated that we've moved past 2001: A Space Odyssey, Lawrence of Arabia, and The Godfather and see them for the pack of lies that they are!.
posted by Sangermaine at 6:21 AM on April 29, 2015 [94 favorites]


I could never tell whether or not you were meant to laugh when that lad got his face blown off in Pulp Fiction. It split the folk I saw it with 50% 50%.
posted by gnuhavenpier at 6:22 AM on April 29, 2015 [7 favorites]


... the rest of us who wanted to enjoy a good movie without getting distracted wondering how to murder a yukster with a bucket of popcorn and a straw.

First moisten the popcorn with a bit of soda applied by straw. Then painstakingly insert the moistened popcorn into the straw to a length of about three inches and wait for it to harden. Next, bring the tip of the straw to a fine point using a plastic pencil sharpener. Finally, insert the sharpened straw into the offender's jugular and enjoy the rest of your movie.
posted by echocollate at 6:22 AM on April 29, 2015 [5 favorites]


Keaton is an exception throughout. I taught The General to a bunch of film students earlier this semester. I'd been told by previous teachers of the course that they could not be reached by black and white, but damned if The General (and Sunset Boulevard) didn't fetch 'em. Great timing is immortal.
posted by LucretiusJones at 6:24 AM on April 29, 2015 [14 favorites]


If comedies lose their punch after many years, because the context gets lost or the pacing has altered, is it really surprising that the same applies to suspense, drama and horror?
posted by Snjo at 6:24 AM on April 29, 2015 [6 favorites]


Sounds like old people getting offended that the public's critical acumen has grown more sophisticated

The current generation thinks Christopher Nolan is a great, deep director.
posted by shakespeherian at 6:25 AM on April 29, 2015 [60 favorites]


On one hand, we're continually told that too much screen time and isolation is bad for us. On the other, I read stories like this where people go to the theatre and lulz it up at The Godfather and I never want to leave the house again.
posted by The Card Cheat at 6:25 AM on April 29, 2015 [2 favorites]


What is there to even laugh at in one way or another during the Godfather? It's a masterwork but it's also one of the most po-faced movies I've ever seen.
posted by griphus at 6:27 AM on April 29, 2015 [3 favorites]


New rule: If the word "hipster" is central to your thesis, you have nothing worthwhile to say.

This is like the new "all Cretans are liars." My head hurts.
posted by IjonTichy at 6:27 AM on April 29, 2015 [21 favorites]


Michael Haneke's own remake of his Funny Games was a genuine litmus test of this effect when it screened in theatres in 2007.
posted by fairmettle at 6:28 AM on April 29, 2015 [1 favorite]


Sounds like old people getting offended that the public's critical acumen has grown more sophisticated.

The first time I saw Vertigo, I was in my mid-teens, and I found it goofily quaint and old-fashioned. The second time I saw Vertigo, I was a few years older, and it fucking devastated me. I guarantee you that my critical acumen did not become markedly less sophisticated in the interim.
posted by DaDaDaDave at 6:28 AM on April 29, 2015 [43 favorites]


Holden Caulfield didn't have a hipster bone in his weak body. How did he spend his sneak weekend in New York City? Trying to go see Charles Mingus? Lectures on Zen Buddhism? Attempting to screw abstract painter chicks? No, he spent it getting drunk and moping, with his non-ironic hunting hat pulled tight over his goddamn crewcut.
posted by thelonius at 6:29 AM on April 29, 2015 [12 favorites]


I'm not even sure I believe this person has ever seen someone laugh at The Godfather. I'm sure it's happened, but it's a little too perfect to prove the thesis, which is otherwise "people laughed at this consciously goofy showing of an old movie."
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 6:29 AM on April 29, 2015 [6 favorites]


Holden Caulfield, the original hipster,
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 6:29 AM on April 29, 2015


Also this is why I only go to revival houses at like noon on a Sunday when it is almost guaranteed there will be at most two other people in the audience and they will both be like 90 years old.

What's hilarious is that's something Amy Nicholson (and others still enamored with the term) would expect a dirty hipster to say.
posted by Chichibio at 6:31 AM on April 29, 2015 [1 favorite]


Sounds like old people getting offended that the public's critical acumen has grown more sophisticated.

Oof. For me this is an age-gap issue. If their acumen is so sophisticated, why are they dropping all this money to go to a move just to laugh at it? I like this suggestion in her article: "I wonder if CGI has conquered our imagination. In Bava's time, no one expected every prop to be perfect." If you can't suspend disbelief because you're in an audience and worried what other audience members will think of your reaction, I don't know how to help.

Movies and books that in a real way took advantage of our collective fears and hysteria at the time do not carry over when we learn, understand, and grow braver, wiser, and calmer.

Thus the Paul Blart sequel.
posted by yerfatma at 6:32 AM on April 29, 2015 [17 favorites]


Holden thought movies were phony because his brother left home to go become an actor which Holden continued to hold against him.
posted by shakespeherian at 6:33 AM on April 29, 2015 [3 favorites]


Holden Caulfield didn't have a hipster bone in his weak body. How did he spend his sneak weekend in New York City? Trying to go see Charles Mingus? Lectures on Zen Buddhism? Attempting to screw abstract painter chicks? No, he spent it getting drunk and moping, with his non-ironic hunting hat pulled tight over his goddamn crewcut.
thelonius

He's such a hipster that he refuses to conform to even non-conformist standards.
posted by Sangermaine at 6:34 AM on April 29, 2015 [2 favorites]


If movie theaters didn't exist today I'm not sure anyone would invent them. We've seen no need for "TV theaters" for example.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 6:37 AM on April 29, 2015 [1 favorite]


Holden thought movies were phony because his brother left home to go become an actor which Holden continued to hold against him.

I have come to suspect that his Hollywood producer brother is a fantasy, which is, no doubt, an old idea.
posted by thelonius at 6:38 AM on April 29, 2015 [1 favorite]


How shocking it is to learn that people who find a movie deeply moving are annoyed when other people laugh at it!

How groundbreaking the discovery that movie-goers of different generations have different tastes and perspectives!

How fundamentally revelatory an insight into the human condition it is that everyone thinks they are a being of erudition and sophistication!
posted by grumpybear69 at 6:40 AM on April 29, 2015 [1 favorite]


Epimenides the Sophisticated Hipster, says "no hipster is sophisticated." Do you laugh or not? Please support your statements with the work of at least Augustine and two other philosophers, plus the lyrics from three bands of the last decade, only one of which can have signed with a major label.
posted by GenjiandProust at 6:40 AM on April 29, 2015 [5 favorites]


I think the main thing is to read the room. I've been to a few movies where the audience turned on it - isolated snickers slowly graduated to widespread belly laughs and heckling - and it was glorious. But if you're the only one laughing...I'm not saying you're wrong to do so, but at least make an effort to be considerate to everyone around you who might be enjoying the movie on different terms. Years ago some friends and I went to see Mission To Mars, which was hilariously bad, and we were laughing our guts out...but partway through I noticed that there was a kid, probably ten years old, down the row from where we were sitting who was absolutely *entranced* by the movie, and it took me back to seeing 2010, which probably isn't that good but which I absolutely loved - in the theatre at a similar age. So I toned it down and asked my friends to do the same, because I didn't want that kid's memory of the film to be our mockery of something he was clearly really enjoying.
posted by The Card Cheat at 6:41 AM on April 29, 2015 [27 favorites]


How shocking it is to learn that people who find a movie deeply moving are annoyed when other people laugh at it!

Please take your sarcasm elsewhere - in my day, people read opinion pieces in printed dailies with respect!
posted by Chichibio at 6:42 AM on April 29, 2015 [7 favorites]


I am incapable of a keeping a straight face during a Christopher Nolan film. I had to actually get up and leave the theatre because the last "Batman" was so utterly silly and yet so Very Serious. And I tried to explain to my musical-loving family that I thought I shouldn't see "Les Miserables" because I figured I'd get the giggles and sure enough...Anyway, I know inappropriate laughter is a problem. It's probably one of the reasons even my grandparents stopped trying to talk me into going to church when I was a kid and why my mother insists that I'm "awful at funerals." I think I've gotten better at the things that matter (jury duty! Not even a chuckle!), but movies? Not so much.

For what it's worth, I also cry inappropriately. Usually music, lots of so-called "comedies" ("The Squid and the Whale" destroyed me), last week I broke down sobbing in a field full of wild flowers because it the sweetness of the day and the season was just so overwhelmingly beautiful. Opera wrecks me. And i regularly sniffle at everything from architecture to sappy commercials, so you know, we all have our crosses, etc.
posted by thivaia at 6:42 AM on April 29, 2015 [7 favorites]


Michael Haneke's own remake of his Funny Games was a genuine litmus test of this effect when it screened in theatres in 2007.

wait, is 'the white ribbon' not a comedy? maybe that's why no one else was laughing...
posted by ennui.bz at 6:43 AM on April 29, 2015


I desperately need a chrome extension to turn "hipsters" into "kids these days".
posted by specialagentwebb at 6:43 AM on April 29, 2015 [18 favorites]


In Philadelphia at the Trocadero (a historic theatre long ago converted into a dance club) they have movie nights once a week where they open the balcony, sell cheap bear, play cult classic films, and you're allowed to be as noisy and obnoxious as you want.

This seems like exactly the right solution. Create a separate space for people who want to be their own little MST 3000.

For what it's worth, I loved going to movies at the Troc and laughing and hooting along with everyone. But I, like all right thinking people, have no patience for people who talk in regular theatres.
posted by 256 at 6:44 AM on April 29, 2015 [3 favorites]


In terms of laughing at classic old movies, I remember a weekly classics series that my college put on over a semester back in the 90's and three reactions stand out in my memory:

West Side Story: Lots of laughing at the schmaltzy romance (which is understandable, but pissed me off at the time as it was the first time I had ever seen it).

Vertigo: Somewhat nervous laughter at the stalker-ish crazy that Stewart brings in the last half.

Citizen Kane: No misplaced laughter and a some genuine laughs in the right place (such as the scene when Susan and Kane first meet).
posted by AlonzoMosleyFBI at 6:46 AM on April 29, 2015


For more mature fare, like the Marx Brothers, Laurel and Hardy or Abbot and Costello, there are some issues with pacing that make them inaccessible to modern audiences despite the razor sharp dialog. There's also the issue where the straight-man is usually too straight and wooden (Marx Bros. are especially guilty of this).

Mmmmm . . . . . I think that may be less about changing expectations of pacing and more that studio execs at the time didn't think they could get enough butts in the seats and/or make a full length picture without including a bog-standard love story. Of course, they didn't want to spend too much time or money on this, so you get wooden actors & dialog. The pacing was horrible right from the start, because the filmmakers kept grafting low-budget romance to anarchic comedy and never really figured out how to integrate them.

So, yeah, maybe the films as a whole are kind of inaccessible, but that's more about the formulaic filmmaking surrounding the comedy rather than the audience not getting the humor of the Marx Bros. & Laurel & Hardy & etc.
posted by soundguy99 at 6:47 AM on April 29, 2015 [1 favorite]


We've seen no need for "TV theaters" for example.

Game of Thrones in IMAX

Also I can't imagine how rich I'd have to be to have a home theater that rivals a decent movie theater's AV setup.
posted by griphus at 6:48 AM on April 29, 2015 [3 favorites]


There is also the opposite problem. I went to Down with Love with a couple of friends who had been raised on Rock Hudson/Doris Day romantic comedies, and we were laughing at the constant references, as you do, and then we realized that most of the rest of the audience was not getting the joke. It was odd and slightly off-putting. I am sure the rest of the audience is telling the same story about us.
posted by GenjiandProust at 6:49 AM on April 29, 2015 [8 favorites]


I did get pretty high when I went to watch Harvey Keitel in the Bad Lieutenant, and laughed most of the way through it. The other people in the audience were not amused.
posted by Nevin at 6:53 AM on April 29, 2015 [1 favorite]


Dear everyone missing the point - yes, inappropriate laughter is inappropriate. But the event the "critic" whines about in her screed was explicitly and unambiguously intended to cause laughter. It's in the promotional materials, it's in the event program, and it was obvious in the manner and tone with which the event was presented. The "critic" missed the point entirely. Her piece reveals her to be an arrogant elitist, made worse by her ignorance of the nature of the event. We were invited there to laugh.

She completely missed the point. Such "critics" serve neither the arts nor the public.
posted by under_petticoat_rule at 6:53 AM on April 29, 2015 [14 favorites]


but at least make an effort to be considerate to everyone around you who might be enjoying the movie on different terms.
The Card Cheat

This idea seems to be dying or dead. It's continually astonishing to me how many people, even here on MeFi, passionately defend talking, texting, being loud, or just generally being a selfish jerk at the movies.
posted by Sangermaine at 6:53 AM on April 29, 2015 [11 favorites]


I did get pretty high when I went to watch Harvey Keitel in the Bad Lieutenant,

that movie is fucking hysterical even if you aren't high
posted by ennui.bz at 6:57 AM on April 29, 2015 [9 favorites]


Sounds like old people getting offended that the public's critical acumen has grown more sophisticated.

Like yerfatma said above: Thus the Paul Blart sequel.
posted by rabbitroom at 7:00 AM on April 29, 2015


I would ask too, how much of the laughter, the restlessness, is an unwillingness or an inability to receive something on its own terms, to allow the context and emotion that it is bringing to have entry into our supposedly sophisticated minds, to step aside from our own ego for a moment and see something larger and unknown.
posted by kokaku at 7:01 AM on April 29, 2015 [22 favorites]


This idea seems to be dying or dead. It's continually astonishing to me how many people, even here on MeFi, passionately defend talking, texting, being loud, or just generally being a selfish jerk at the movies.

Texting? What's wrong with texting? How does that spoil someone else's enjoyment of the film?
posted by PeterMcDermott at 7:02 AM on April 29, 2015


Texting? What's wrong with texting? How does that spoil someone else's enjoyment of the film?
PeterMcDermott

And the evil begins. Flashing screens next to you while you're trying to watch the movie is distracting. I'm there to watch the movie, not your screen. The fact that anyone would even ask this is exactly what I'm talking about. The only thing you should be doing in a movie theater is watching the movie. I'm not sure what's so hard about that.
posted by Sangermaine at 7:05 AM on April 29, 2015 [97 favorites]


(Why do multiple people in this thread assume the article is written by a dude?)
posted by kmz at 7:06 AM on April 29, 2015 [5 favorites]


I saw the original Texas Chainsaw at a midnight show back in the '70s. A lot of the crowd was under the influence of something, so there was a lot of chortling and giggling as the lights went down. The first few frames of the movie shut everybody the fuck up.
posted by marxchivist at 7:06 AM on April 29, 2015 [7 favorites]


I would ask too, how much of the laughter, the restlessness, is an unwillingness or an inability to receive something on its own terms, to allow the context and emotion that it is bringing to have entry into our supposedly sophisticated minds, to step aside from our own ego for a moment and see something larger and unknown.

As time goes on, I am less and less willing to blindly accept that something is a "timeless classic" and more given to believe that many films and artifacts of culture were a product of their time and place and in many ways inaccessible to modern audiences outside of their original context. It is certainly a mind-expanding exercise to understand the context in which that art existed and relate to it on those terms. At the same time, it doesn't surprise me at all how a movie many decades old, taken out of its original context, with different expectations for dialog and story, might seem almost comical to the modern audience.
posted by deanc at 7:09 AM on April 29, 2015 [10 favorites]


Doesn't anybody do the "whisper sarcastic commentary to your friends" thing anymore? You can mock a movie without belly laughs, people.
posted by emjaybee at 7:13 AM on April 29, 2015 [5 favorites]


Texting? What's wrong with texting? How does that spoil someone else's enjoyment of the film?

'Cause I can see your fucking brightly glowing screen from halfway across the theater and I can't concentrate on the movie until you put it away.. Unless you're a transplant surgeon put the damn thing in airplane mode.
posted by octothorpe at 7:14 AM on April 29, 2015 [50 favorites]


Doesn't anybody do the "whisper sarcastic commentary to your friends" thing anymore? You can mock a movie without belly laughs, people.

This seems way ruder to me. I don't like people talking during movies, but laughs are usually a less conscious reaction. Talking is deciding to interrupt people's experience. Whsipering is better (and I've do it once or twice per movie myself), but it's not something to hold up as ideal.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 7:15 AM on April 29, 2015 [2 favorites]


Having eaten Mexican food with Gunnar Hansen, the original leather face, I can say - he is quite funny from what I remember. Not so much in the film, however.
posted by Nanukthedog at 7:19 AM on April 29, 2015 [1 favorite]


Oh yay, another "Kid's sensibilities are degraded compared to previous generations" article. Wow-I've been reading stuff like that since the 1970s.

There's a major problem with modern cranky "Kid's today" diatribes- they just don't have the proper frission of cynicism and despair at the modern generation, like the ones in my time did.

I weep for the future of "kids today" diatribes.
posted by happyroach at 7:26 AM on April 29, 2015 [13 favorites]


We've seen no need for "TV theaters" for example.

Except for every sports bar in existence. And a good number of mid-range chain restaurants.
posted by davros42 at 7:28 AM on April 29, 2015 [4 favorites]


The fact that anyone would even ask this is exactly what I'm talking about.

I don't actually own or use a mobile phone. But I was somewhat irritated when the usherette in the theatre recently came over and told me turn off my Kindle.

I was just going to finish the page, goddamit! And I was at the end of the row, with my family seated between me and the other humans.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 7:29 AM on April 29, 2015


Doesn't anybody do the "whisper sarcastic commentary to your friends" thing anymore?

When I was twelve, I was shushed by a stranger for doing exactly that, which I considered very rude as the Washington Monument does too look like a boner.
posted by griphus at 7:30 AM on April 29, 2015 [21 favorites]


I think much of the ironic laughter in movies is actually not really a sign of intelligence or sophistication, it's anxious hipsters trying to signal that they are "above it," they "get it," they would not be so foolish as to enjoy this thirty year old movie unironically.

The ironic laughter is just part of the hipster uniform.
posted by jayder at 7:32 AM on April 29, 2015 [9 favorites]


> "I've been reading stuff like that since the 1970s."

"Our sires' age was worse than our grandsires'. We, their sons, are more worthless than they; so in our turn we shall give the world a progeny yet more corrupt."
-- Horace, Odes, circa 20 BC
posted by kyrademon at 7:35 AM on April 29, 2015 [15 favorites]


If he had led off with an account of people laughing at The Godfather, I'd have sympathy.

A melodrama about repellent sociopaths, no matter how good the acting and directing, tends to edge into comedy farce if you don't have any particular affection for the mafia.
posted by lefty lucky cat at 7:41 AM on April 29, 2015 [2 favorites]


Oh wait hipster does have a meaning: it's a cover for saying "THE KIDS TODAY, NO WAIT NOT ALL KIDS, JUST THOSE KIDS. NO I AM NOT A CANTANKEROUS GROUCH"
posted by Ferreous at 7:43 AM on April 29, 2015 [4 favorites]


I'm not even sure I believe this person has ever seen someone laugh at The Godfather.

"Leave the gun. Take the cannoli."

I am open to hearing arguments that this is not intended as a laugh line.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 7:43 AM on April 29, 2015 [9 favorites]


I was at a screening of Raging Bull where some hipsters were laughing all through the scene where Jake bashes his head against a wall. But it's not just an ignorant kid thing. Plenty of people do it. "I'm laughing because I'm either above it all or I'm so self-absorbed that I can't simply attend to a work of art, can't allow myself to dive within a film. I must remain outside."

I definitely think this is a result of television habits.
posted by ReeMonster at 7:44 AM on April 29, 2015 [22 favorites]


Oh and I also I love how every time somebody posts about annoying hipsters, like clockwork the defensives start their defenses.
posted by ReeMonster at 7:45 AM on April 29, 2015 [9 favorites]


Plenty of people do it. "I'm laughing because I'm either above it all or I'm so self-absorbed that I can't simply attend to a work of art, can't allow myself to dive within a film. I must remain outside."

Yeah, I think the beef I have, if not hinted at in the linked screed, is that this behavior comes from arrogance and unwillingness to engage with a work in its own context and terms, at the expense of others' enjoyment.
posted by johnnydummkopf at 7:47 AM on April 29, 2015 [11 favorites]


A melodrama about repellent sociopaths
lefty lucky cat

Who is a "repllent sociopath" in the Godfather? The very point of the movie was about normal human beings and the choices and circumstances leading them to do terrible things. I'm not sure you've even seen the movie if you think it's a celebration of the mafia and their behavior, any more than Breaking Bad is about how awesome meth is.
posted by Sangermaine at 7:52 AM on April 29, 2015 [11 favorites]


In the 90's my college had a showing of Casablanca. During the scene where Ilsa admits she still loves Rick, most of the audience was snickering at the stilted, awkward dialogue. Maybe it was more modern views on romance, but a romantic scene from what was considered one of the most romatic movies of all time just got a bunch of giggles.
posted by Badgermann at 7:52 AM on April 29, 2015 [1 favorite]




Maybe the author picked the wrong example, but I don't think you can attribute all laughing at revival screenings to artistic failures by the director. Some of it is just, "Hurf durf, that movie's so old." If anybody does that and thinks they're a hipster, they should realize that all they're doing is making cineplexes safe for nothing but men in capes. And nothing could be more unhip.
posted by jonp72 at 7:55 AM on April 29, 2015 [9 favorites]


I could never tell whether or not you were meant to laugh when that lad got his face blown off in Pulp Fiction. It split the folk I saw it with 50% 50%.

That's not necessarily disrespectful. People do laugh involuntary out of shock. That moment in Pulp Fiction could definitely cause that reaction.
posted by jonp72 at 7:58 AM on April 29, 2015 [3 favorites]


Maybe I took too many critical theory classes back when I was a snarking, young hipster, but I'm also a wee bit uncomfortable with the suggestion here that there is only ever one way to see and respond to a piece of art.
posted by thivaia at 7:59 AM on April 29, 2015 [1 favorite]


This is more about the LA Opera's stunningly bad ideas over the years. Having seen Parsifal, which is hailed as the worst staging in opera in a century, I can understand why people laughed at this film. It's cheap and cheesy as hell--and trying to attract the Rocky Horror crowd was also a bad idea.
posted by Ideefixe at 8:04 AM on April 29, 2015 [2 favorites]


I always assumed that Rocky Horror was basically a Saturday night quarantine for the Rocky Horror crowd.
posted by griphus at 8:06 AM on April 29, 2015 [13 favorites]


Maybe I took too many critical theory classes back when I was a snarking, young hipster, but I'm also a wee bit uncomfortable with the suggestion here that there is only ever one way to see and respond to a piece of art.

There are no rules about how a person has to respond to a work of art, but there are norms for how you behave yourself in a theater. Those norms might be different if you're in a grindhouse or a revival house or a Rocky Horror Picture Show screening or watching the latest blockbuster at your local multiplex, but the norms are there. And people have the right to think you're a jerk for violating them.
posted by jonp72 at 8:06 AM on April 29, 2015 [16 favorites]


Just don't laugh at The Godfather in front of Coppolla, lest he go all Tommy Devito on you.
posted by TedW at 8:19 AM on April 29, 2015


I had a professor who liked to say, "You might as well make it a comedy, because they're gonna laugh anyway."
posted by theory at 8:19 AM on April 29, 2015 [3 favorites]


When I was twelve, I was shushed by a stranger for doing exactly that, which I considered very rude as the Washington Monument does too look like a boner.

When it is a crime to talk about which national monuments look like dicks, only criminals will talk about etc etc
posted by clockzero at 8:24 AM on April 29, 2015 [2 favorites]


David Bordwell was your professor? I'm in awe.
posted by octothorpe at 8:25 AM on April 29, 2015 [1 favorite]


I was at the cinema once and most of the audience snickered their way through Shirley Maclaine's overdose scene in The Apartment. Genuinely puzzling.
posted by Picollecta at 8:26 AM on April 29, 2015 [6 favorites]


I'm a hipster and a love Mario Bava.

But his films are big, man, in often silly ways, and often nonsensical in really fun ways. I used to be quite irritated that Mystery Science Theatre included Danger: Diabolik, because it seemed to me to be a violation of their policy against making fun of genuinely great films. But Danger: Diabolik is ridiculous in great ways, and we should be able to have some fun with it.

Honestly, I doubt Bava would have given a shit. He directed Dr. Goldfoot and the Girl Bombs. He had a sense of the ridiculous that was at once campy, outrageous, and sublime.
posted by maxsparber at 8:28 AM on April 29, 2015 [4 favorites]


During the scene where Ilsa admits she still loves Rick, most of the audience was snickering at the stilted, awkward dialogue. Maybe it was more modern views on romance, but a romantic scene from what was considered one of the most romatic movies of all time just got a bunch of giggles.

While Casablanca is one of the great films of all time, it is the precise example of a movie that is hard to appreciate as time goes on. Some of the dialog has aged out of date, other parts of the dialog have become so famous as to enter into cliché to modern audiences. You really have to put yourself in the place of a 1940s audience member excited to watch two of the greatest stars of the time on screen together. Outside of that context, there are so many unintentional snicker-worthy moments.
posted by deanc at 8:29 AM on April 29, 2015 [4 favorites]


I am young, possibly a hipster myself, and I cannot stand people snickering throughout the movies. Even during movies which actually have a sense of humor-- Kubrick, for instance-- I wish people would spend a little more effort taking it in, and a little less passively waiting for the next belly laugh.

I love MST3k, and I've probably spent entire years of my life cracking wise about films at home with friends. But you are in a fucking theater! Viewing some of the greatest art humanity has to offer! Shut up!

I have no theories about why people do this except that they're lazy and used to watching shitty films, maybe. OK, maybe I do have theories. Like we live in a world where everything is memeified and tumblrizable and Bill Murray shows up at your wedding to take photos with you, so people are constantly craving the next hit of "I'm special! I get it! Irony!" I have no problem with tumblr or memes, but for everything there is a season, and being in a theater is the season of try to appreciate what you spent money to come do.
posted by easter queen at 8:31 AM on April 29, 2015 [5 favorites]


While Casablanca is one of the great films of all time, it is the precise example of a movie that is hard to appreciate as time goes on.
deanc

But surely the the fundamental things apply?
posted by Sangermaine at 8:36 AM on April 29, 2015 [26 favorites]


His stubborn laughter was an advertisement for his own superiority, like it's heroic to refuse to be “suckered” by a fake rock that's obviously fake. But there's nothing triumphant about being too cool to dream.

This is beautiful.

The emphasis on realistic special effects invites us to rate films like Holden Caulfield: true or phony? We're so fixated on the authenticity of the castle that we care less about the characters inside. And older movies, which make more demands, are feeling the heat.

This is why I was shocked when I saw The Fly several years ago, left the theater thinking it was FRICKING AMAZING, and quickly discovered that the two friends I had seen it with thought it was dumb, "badly animated" stuff. The special effects (physical effects?) are incredible, they just aren't... CGI, I guess. And the characters are so goofy, the drama is so endearing... but "bad" effects made that impossible to appreciate, apparently. Every criticism was about the "cheesy effects."

And Casablanca is impossible not to appreciate, imo. I am totally alienated from people who just find it risible. Oh, and the other thing I noticed while at a Hitchcock film festival last year-- antiquated misogyny and violence against women, instant laughs.

“I quickly laugh at everything for fear of having to cry.”

Boom!
posted by easter queen at 8:41 AM on April 29, 2015 [7 favorites]


I'll admit that I laughed at a few "scary" parts in the re-release of the Exorcist...

Laughter at a horror movie is not a new phenomenon, and it is neither a black mark against the film nor the audience.

From New Republic film critic Stanley Kauffmann's 1974 review of the Exorcist:
"The theater where I saw The Exorcist was crowded with people being entertained by horror; they giggled after most of the possession scenes (after, not during), a sure sign that they had been shaken and had to right themselves."
posted by Atom Eyes at 8:46 AM on April 29, 2015 [8 favorites]


In the 90's my college had a showing of Casablanca. During the scene where Ilsa admits she still loves Rick, most of the audience was snickering at the stilted, awkward dialogue. Maybe it was more modern views on romance, but a romantic scene from what was considered one of the most romatic movies of all time just got a bunch of giggles.

Hey, I think I know where the repellant sociopaths were!
posted by Celsius1414 at 8:49 AM on April 29, 2015


But Danger: Diabolik is ridiculous in great ways, and we should be able to have some fun with it.

I second the love for Danger: Diabolik. It inspired the Beastie Boys video for "Body Movin'" and I think it also inspired the movie-within-a-movie, Austinpussy, in Austin Powers: Goldmember.
posted by jonp72 at 8:50 AM on April 29, 2015


I don't actually own or use a mobile phone. But I was somewhat irritated when the usherette in the theatre recently came over and told me turn off my Kindle.

I was just going to finish the page, goddamit! And I was at the end of the row, with my family seated between me and the other humans.

. . . this is a joke, right?
posted by ostro at 8:52 AM on April 29, 2015 [33 favorites]


His stubborn laughter was an advertisement for his own superiority, like it's heroic to refuse to be “suckered” by a fake rock that's obviously fake. But there's nothing triumphant about being too cool to dream.

This really is the key point that people are missing here. Of course laughter is an expression of taste, not one single phenomenon irrespective of the aesthetic situation that's being laughed at. Nicholson knows this. She is in fact complaining about a currently ascendant form of shitty taste which uses laughter as a form of self-protection and refusal to attempt the work of understanding and relating to art, and targeting a particular form of shitty ha-ha audience. It's not about laughter itself in any and all theaters.

I mean, I have made lifelong friends because we were the only ones laughing at the movie (Crash) and yet I agree with what she's saying. The point is not that laughing is never an expression of considered aesthetic judgment, it's that it too often is a form of defensiveness or false sophistication.
posted by RogerB at 8:56 AM on April 29, 2015 [8 favorites]


Man, I have to admit I just eat up all of it in Casablanca, but it's been one of my favorite movies for a long time, partly from back when I was a super moody but also sentimental teenager. And for whatever reason, it's survived the test of time while a lot of the stuff I loved from back then has fallen off. I mean, I still like Counting Crows and Thomas Hardy, but Casablanca I still love.
posted by kmz at 8:58 AM on April 29, 2015 [1 favorite]


http://www.metafilter.com/149228/Stop-laughing-at-old-movies-you-anding-hipsters#6027325: Given that the LA Opera themselves advertised the event as appealing to fans of Mystery Science Theatre 3000 and the Rocky Horror Picture Show, I don't see how the audience was behaving inappropriately.

This puts such a different spin on this for me. This wasn't provoked by hipsters laughing at old movies at all and the hearsay only makes that more clear.

This is not a new production. It originated at Opera Theater Oregon. Watch a clip and try not to be unsettled. The marketing really sells me on how this could work, on how the story is big and bold and operatic... but then everything else seems to work at cross purposes.

Sure, opera houses used to be (more) popular gathering places; people would take dinner and show up a couple acts late. Then they'd eat, drink, smoke, chat, and only pay attention when the big arias showed up.

Think many modern rock concerts where half the crowd skips the opening acts and are there just for drinking and chatting except when the band plays the radio hits when they scream like the biggest fans ever.

Opera has gotten away from that/that crowd has gotten away from opera and audiences have changed/diminished.

This sort of production is predicated on two main things: (a) the youngs (which is how opera people see 30- and 40- somethings (who are in turn largely the people who will recognize MST3K and Rocky Horror) will see opera productions aren't always stuffy and might go to an actual opera production, and (b) the live operatic singing (was this even unamplified?) will entrance people and they will be drawn to hear more.
posted by mountmccabe at 8:59 AM on April 29, 2015 [1 favorite]


There are no rules about how a person has to respond to a work of art, but there are norms for how you behave yourself in a theater.

Exactly. There are countless ways to "see and respond" to a piece of art, but a certain subset of those make you a selfish jerk when applied in the wrong setting.

As The Card Cheat mentioned above, the main thing is to read the room. Are you at a "Rocky Horror" midnight show? Scream your head off and throw hot dogs! Are you at a revival house watching Wild Strawberries? Don't scream and throw hot dogs, because then you're a a jerk. That's an extreme example, obviously, but there's a wide range of behaviors that are unacceptable when you're in public with other people who are trying to engage with a piece of art. These basically come down to competing for the audience's attention with the piece of art in question.

For example, I as at a screening of The Shining once, and when a character uttered a certain racial slur, a young woman sitting in front of me angrily shouted "THAT'S NOT NICE." Instead of being uncomfortable with it and thinking to herself about why it made her uncomfortable and why it was being used in the context of the film, she felt compelled to draw everyone's attention away from the film for a moment to inform us all that she was definitely not racist.

Was this a "wrong" way to respond to a piece of art? No, because there's no inherently "wrong" way to respond. But there are circumstances in which certain responses impede the ability of others to engage with the work of art in question. If she had been sitting at home by herself watching the movie and blurted out "THAT'S NOT NICE," nobody would care. Doing the same thing in a theater full of people meant she was being a jerk.

Conversely, there's a movie marathon event called B-Fest that is 24 hours of everybody in the audience MST3K-ing on a parade of "bad" movies. The entire point of B-Fest is to compete with the movies for the attention of other audience members. This is a context specifically created to allow for this, so if you go to B-Fest and get annoyed that people are constantly yelling and joking, you're the jerk in that situation.

I get that people have involuntary reactions to things that happen in films. That's occasionally annoying in the wrong context, but it's understandable. The thing that people should keep in mind when they're out in public with other humans who are trying to engage with a work of art is whether or not their actions are putting them in competition with the work of art for other people's attention and whether or not that's an appropriate thing to do in the context of the event/screening/etc.

TL;DR- Read the room. Figure out what behavior signifies "I'm a jerk" to the audience in any particular context, and then don't behave that way. If you do, accept that you're the jerk in the situation and don't get indignant and defensive when someone points it out.
posted by rabbitroom at 9:00 AM on April 29, 2015 [18 favorites]


Octothorpe: Bordwell is great... really enthusiastic, earnest, curious. I was only an undergrad but was lucky to able to take a couple of seminars with him in addition to the big 101-style courses he taught. He's really thought a lot about the ways that viewers respond to movies and how those effects are achieved and I know he'd enjoy this discussion... although maybe not TFA so much.
posted by theory at 9:02 AM on April 29, 2015 [1 favorite]


I'm not even sure I believe this person has ever seen someone laugh at The Godfather.

"Leave the gun. Take the cannoli."

I am open to hearing arguments that this is not intended as a laugh line.


None from me. It's obviously a laugh line done to diffuse the tension caused by an onscreen murder. It's called comic relief, and even Shakespeare's tragedies had it, for Ford's sake.

(Other laugh lines include when the movie producer, having insulted Robert Duvall's character's perceived ethnic heritage and being informed politely that he's German-Irish, not Italian, responds by combining slurs against those ethnicities without missing a beat. And there's the time where Luca Brasi blows his congratulatory speech at the wedding, which actually happened because the actor was so intimidated by working with Brando, and which Coppola lampshaded by adding the previous sequence where Brasi is rehearsing said speech -- to make the moment funnier.)
posted by Gelatin at 9:03 AM on April 29, 2015 [8 favorites]


Opera Theater Oregon has another similar production coming up. Giasone and The Argonauts is happening late May/early June. This shows the 1963 film by Don Chaffey/Ray Harryhausen, combined with live foley effects and an adapted performance of Cavalli's 1649 opera Giasone.

I... I... I don't even know how to react.
posted by mountmccabe at 9:06 AM on April 29, 2015 [1 favorite]


I don't actually own or use a mobile phone. But I was somewhat irritated when the usherette in the theatre recently came over and told me turn off my Kindle.

To me "usherette" indicates a girl wearing brass-buttoned livery and a little cap marked "usher" perched on a Betty Grable do, and it's just not working with the "turn off my Kindle" image.
posted by George_Spiggott at 9:09 AM on April 29, 2015 [10 favorites]


Okay, maybe sophisticated wasn't quite the right word. Maybe more knowledgeable about movies and TV in general and how it's all produced. Sometimes I laugh during horror movies at scenes that are supposed to be scaring the crap out of me or at the cheesiness of the script in uber-serious moments that are only saved by the actor's passionate acting. I guess that's not sophistication, it's jadedness or cynicism. But it happens even when I'm trying to suspend disbelief and get caught up in all the movie magic.
posted by ChuckRamone at 9:12 AM on April 29, 2015


Unless you're a transplant surgeon put the damn thing in airplane mode.

lol sry watchin rerun of bladerunner at alamo, put it in as best u cn, brb
posted by Jon Mitchell at 9:15 AM on April 29, 2015 [16 favorites]


For what it's worth, I'm not an extremely snarky or snide type. I in fact never enjoyed the Daily Show or Colbert Report much for those reasons. I prefer sincerity. You gotta admit some scenes from older movies come off kinda cheesy these days. Sorry to be heretical about this slice of pop culture that so many Americans consider holy.
posted by ChuckRamone at 9:16 AM on April 29, 2015


This idea seems to be dying or dead. It's continually astonishing to me how many people, even here on MeFi, passionately defend talking, texting, being loud, or just generally being a selfish jerk at the movies.

The Code of Conduct is the only way. Live it. Love it.
posted by GenjiandProust at 9:21 AM on April 29, 2015 [7 favorites]


There's more than one kind of inappropriate laughter, also. Last year I was at a showing of Double Indemnity (a 40s noir) where, after a tense scene in which our hero realizes he's being solicited to help someone commit a murder, he drives away and his narration says, in voice-over, "I stopped at a drive-in for a bottle of beer . . ." Meanwhile, on screen, a carhop brings him a beer as he sits behind the wheel. Big laughs. And obviously that line wouldn't have gotten laughs in 1944. On the other hand, believe you me, nobody was laughing at the previous scene -- even though it includes the main character saying things like "Boy, what a dope I must look to you!"

People laugh to relieve tension, and sometimes they find occasion for laughter where it obviously wasn't intended. I'd say the laughter is actually much gentler when the movie is old -- if you make a new movie in 2015 and people laugh at a line that clearly wasn't intended to be a laugh line, ya dun screwed up, whereas nothing had to go wrong to produce moments like the drive-in beer that only became funny retroactively.

On the other hand, sometimes (I'm lucky to only have seen this a few times) people laugh at every moment in an old movie that seems intended to be taken seriously, even if, as far as I can tell, there's nothing particularly cheesy about the script or the acting. It doesn't even need to be that old -- just old enough that the fashions, interior designs, etc, are noticeably out of date. It's like, how dare people in 60s makeup have emotions when they look so silly.
posted by ostro at 9:22 AM on April 29, 2015 [6 favorites]


You gotta admit some scenes from older movies come off kinda cheesy these days. Sorry to be heretical about this slice of pop culture that so many Americans consider holy.

Oh please, no one is saying "thinking mocking thoughts about great cinema is FORBIDDEN." People are saying that indulging yourself in derisive guffaws in a room full of other people who are watching the film is a dick move.

Also, there is a big difference between a helpless giggle, and people who laugh as loudly and as "can-you-believe-other-generations-ever-enjoyed-this"-ly as possible. Laughing and scoff-laughing might sound similar, but they do not actually sound the same.
posted by a fiendish thingy at 9:24 AM on April 29, 2015 [13 favorites]


"When we took the film out, the respo0nse was just terrible: the audience didn't like it, they laughed at it, they even walked out. We then knew we had a problem with the picture." -- Robert Wise, on The Magnificent Ambersons

Now that movie is considered a masterpiece, even in its butchered version. In its original 3-hour version in theater previews in 1942, the audience guffawed and walked out. Was their acumen any less or more developed than our own?

More from Mr. Wise: "Whenever you would get what we call a bad laugh, when the audience laughs at something that shouldn't be, the minute that happens you say, 'I should have known.' And you are able to change a line or a scene or whatever is necessary."

Of course, in those days each filmic offering was not viewed as an auteurial unicorn to be approached with the utmost of reverential awe, either.

When I first read this heartfelt missive from the LA Weekly I was ready to agree with it, but reading this thread has reminded me that some people in LA take themselves way too freaking seriously.
posted by blucevalo at 9:24 AM on April 29, 2015 [1 favorite]


Honestly, you went to something advertised like this and you're upset people laughed? Look at that preview, it promises laughs.
posted by interplanetjanet at 9:24 AM on April 29, 2015 [3 favorites]


This thread is giving me fond memories of the time I saw Drive on a Sunday afternoon, with nobody else in the theater but a little old man, had to be like eighty years old, who would giggle with unrestrained delight every time Ryan Gosling beat the shit out of somebody.
posted by prize bull octorok at 9:24 AM on April 29, 2015 [16 favorites]


Oh hey. I went to this. I laughed. I enjoyed seeing people's costumes and other people laughing. It was a good time. And I'd gotten the overwhelming impression that was what this event was about.

That said, I'm not hostile to some of the author's points. During the event I thought a bit about my Dad who grew up in LA in the 50s and loves movies treating the fantastic and perhaps would have liked this film in earnest. He brought me up watching some of what he'd enjoyed.

For example, long before I had watched the MST3K treatment of This Island Earth I'd watched the film earnestly -- and *enjoyed* it that way. I also enjoyed the mocking treatment but when I showed it to him... he didn't. At first I understood this as me having a personally broader receptivity in ranges of humor spectra my father apparently did not. Now I'm not so sure. At this point in my life there are plenty of things that I think have earnest value that I've seen treated with dismissive humor and sometimes that's not only not much fun, it's depressing and you can't even really have a critical conversation about the approach because the frame people are starting with is so dismissive (and sometimes that frame is even *adopted* specifically for that purpose).

So while I don't really want to apologize for enjoying the event as a kind of spectacle (and again, my strong impression was that this was the way the event was intended to be received), I think I get it.

This in particular was food for thought for me:
I wonder if CGI has conquered our imagination. In Bava's time, no one expected every prop to be perfect. His lava was made of boiling polenta—it's the panic on Hercules' face that sells the terror. But now that we can animate the incredible, we expect the credible. The emphasis on realistic special effects invites us to rate films like Holden Caulfield: true or phony? We're so fixated on the authenticity of the castle that we care less about the characters inside. And older movies, which make more demands, are feeling the heat.
To flip the triangle between me and media and my father: I'm a huge fan of Avatar: The Last Airbender, I think it's an absolute gem of good human storytelling, epic adventure, and delight. Knowing my Dad's love for the fantastic, I tried to get him to watch it. And he can't get past the animated style (and the animation/production values particularly on some sources for the first season aren't that great) and features kids and, let's face it, does have some flaws. This is so frustrating to me because the enrichment available makes all these things look small.

So I hope there aren't too many things I just can't get past that keep me from being enriched by actually *engaging* with things instead of just laughing at them.

Maybe it's like tacos. I bought two $6 gourmet fish tacos in Eagle Rock before I went to this show that were more or less paragons of culinary execution. I have my favorite "authentic" taco trucks/stands in LA. And there are some tacos I just don't like. But... I'm not really above Taco Bell or even Jack-in-the-Box two-for-a-dollar tacos. I will laugh about them, I will make fun of both the institutions that sell these simulacra they call tacos (particularly Jack-in-the-Box), and I will certainly sometimes go looking for something more. But sometimes, I will plunk down my money, buy what they're selling, and be enriched by them not the least bit ironically.
posted by weston at 9:26 AM on April 29, 2015 [8 favorites]


The emphasis on realistic special effects invites us to rate films like Holden Caulfield: true or phony? We're so fixated on the authenticity of the castle that we care less about the characters inside. And older movies, which make more demands, are feeling the heat.

This is a bad complaint to make about a Hercules movie. The difference between a typical Hercules movie and a movie where people buy that Hercules is throwing a boulder isn't special effects around the boulder, it's acting -- the bodybuilders hired to be Hercules couldn't act their way out of a paper bag, so of course *their acting* makes it painfully obvious that they're throwing a very light piece of styrofoam instead of a rock. The actors just can't sell it.

And more generally, the stuff people laugh at in Hercules movies is less at the level of bad special effects and more at the level of bad production design or bad set construction. It's like watching a courtroom drama where the judge's bench is visibly wobbly and there's a PRINCIPAL'S OFFICE sign in the background. It's not that the special effects were bad to modern eyes, as they inevitably would be, so much as how clearly the fact that they just didn't give a shit by 1963 standards shines through.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 9:27 AM on April 29, 2015 [3 favorites]


Took my dad to a Wrath of Khan showing a while back. I had hoped that, since it was being shown at a small arthouse theater that it would be a good bonding experience for us.

Unfortunately, there was a group of undergrads a few rows in front of us who kept giggling and guffawing at serious parts of the film...like when Spock is dying. I figured they were just stoned or whatever and did my best to ignore them, but my dad was furious. He didn't say anything to them, but it legitimately ruined the experience for him. It was kind of shitty, but hey, what can you do?

I did have to admit, however, even I giggled a little bit at the KHAAAAAAN!!!! part.

In conclusion, home theaters are where its at.
posted by Doleful Creature at 9:29 AM on April 29, 2015 [4 favorites]


Funny you should mention Robert Wise, blucevalo. I had the good fortune of hearing Wise give a talk some years ago, after which we were treated to a screening of The Day the Earth Stood Still. The audience watched with appropriate respect, and then this scene came on, in which the humanoid alien Klaatu is being examined by two Earth doctors:
DOCTOR ONE: How old do you think he is?
DOCTOR TWO: Oh, I'd say 35, 38.
DOCTOR ONE: He told me this morning while I was examining him. He's 78.
DOCTOR TWO: Oh, I don't believe it.
DOCTOR ONE: Life expectancy is a hundred and thirty.
DOCTOR TWO: Well, how does he explain that?
DOCTOR ONE: He says their medicine is that much more advanced. He was very nice about it, but he made me feel like a third-class witch doctor!
And as the doctors are speaking, they're lighting up cigarettes and puffing away. The whole audience burst into laughter, myself included, with the director right there in the room.

Was that wrong?
posted by Faint of Butt at 9:33 AM on April 29, 2015 [14 favorites]


New rule: If the word "hipster" is central to your thesis, you have nothing worthwhile to say.

And no exceptions for your rule about hipsters.

For what it's worth, I also cry inappropriately.

Oh yeah, I cry at weird parts of movies for reasons I don't understand, it's totally embarrassing. I think the most baffling experience was crying while watching Blue Planet in IMAX. I went online and found the exact clip where I started crying, here it is starting at 1:23 into the clip. It really makes no sense in 480p, but I still remember seeing it on a huge IMAX screen, and seeing the Sun glinting off every wave for miles off Hawaii, and just bursting into tears.
posted by charlie don't surf at 9:33 AM on April 29, 2015 [4 favorites]


I have to admit I laughed at the "KHAAAAAAAAAAN" part in the the Abrams reboot because it was just such bald-faced fan pandering.
posted by kmz at 9:36 AM on April 29, 2015 [6 favorites]


Oh, Mario Bava. I watched several of his films with the most respectful-and-knowledgeable-of-film person I know, and we both laughed at the ending and a few of the death scenes in Bay of Blood. Because 1) they lack a degree of subtlety we've grown accustomed to with modern films. We tend to think less of movies that are very right in your face about suspense and drama, and some older films are very right in your face; and 2) there was a level of absurdity to the deaths and plot twists that made them feel like genuine non-sequiturs. Non-sequitur humor is a lot more prevalent now than the early 70s*, so what are probably meant to be slightly hammy twists code for comedy to a modern audience.

* I think. I would love to be wrong. But I can't visit two webpages without tripping over a non-sequitur, so.
posted by byanyothername at 9:36 AM on April 29, 2015 [3 favorites]


But... I'm not really above Taco Bell or even Jack-in-the-Box two-for-a-dollar tacos. I will laugh about them, I will make fun of both the institutions that sell these simulacra they call tacos (particularly Jack-in-the-Box), and I will certainly sometimes go looking for something more. But sometimes, I will plunk down my money, buy what they're selling, and be enriched by them not the least bit ironically.

A long-running and as-yet-unresolved conversation among a small group of my friends is what we should call that situation where you're enjoying something ironically and unironically at the exact same moment. It's not the same as being enthusiastically ironic, or pleasantly detached. Both the enjoyment and the mockery are 100% sincere.
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 9:45 AM on April 29, 2015 [2 favorites]


A few years ago I was at a play at the Wentworth children's theater ; it was an adaptation of the Hobbit. My kids loved it. Except for the 2 clowns behind us who thought it was so cool to laugh at the fight scenes and the dragon. Thankfully they shut up after I told them to knock it off at intermission.
posted by msiebler at 9:46 AM on April 29, 2015 [1 favorite]


My wife and I laughed a few times during Gravity. We couldn't help it. If filmmakers don't want us to laugh they should stop making things ridiculous.

I still maintain that Her was an excellent comedy that some dumb people think is actually a heartbreaking love story. I laughed and laughed when I saw it.
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 9:46 AM on April 29, 2015 [3 favorites]


I saw the original Texas Chainsaw at a midnight show back in the '70s. A lot of the crowd was under the influence of something, so there was a lot of chortling and giggling as the lights went down. The first few frames of the movie shut everybody the fuck up.

It is physically impossible to speak during that film.

I've seen it only once but I have a lasting memory is of an achey jaw; it was wide open throughout.
posted by popcassady at 9:48 AM on April 29, 2015


I have to admit I laughed at the "KHAAAAAAAAAAN" part in the the Abrams reboot because it was just such bald-faced fan pandering.

Laughing at bad new films in the theatre is still bad because A) other people paid to see them, and B) you did too, which is bad for the entirely different reason that if you have the sense and taste to see that Star Trek 2013 is bad then you already knew that Star Trek 2009 was bad so why the hell did you give them money a second time?
posted by George_Spiggott at 9:48 AM on April 29, 2015 [1 favorite]


*I was in a theater where people laughed when Spock died. WHEN SPOCK DIED.

I laughed. Scotty had just gotten done saying "He's already dead," and up goes Spock. Cue my nervous laughter, ha ha, Spock's doing just fine, see? Talk about a kick in the balls.

Thirtysomething years later, I pretty much just rolled my eyes when nuKirk sacrificed himself for the good of the ship and nuSpock KHAAAAAAAAANed. Really, JJ Abrams? You couldn't have come up with less of a piece of shit?
posted by disconnect at 9:52 AM on April 29, 2015 [7 favorites]


I saw the original Texas Chainsaw at a midnight show back in the '70s. A lot of the crowd was under the influence of something, so there was a lot of chortling and giggling as the lights went down. The first few frames of the movie shut everybody the fuck up.

And the last few minutes of The Night of the Living Dead -- don't know if they shut people up in the theater, but they sure shut me the hell up the first time I saw them.
posted by blucevalo at 9:53 AM on April 29, 2015 [1 favorite]


It's been over 20 years, but I'm still raging about the yahoos that cheered and fist-pumped after 3+ hours of everything that is Schindler's List when the camp commandant is hanged. Like it was some Schwarzenegger flick or something.
posted by sapere aude at 9:53 AM on April 29, 2015 [5 favorites]


wearing an ironic Hawaiian shirt
still not a thing
posted by likeatoaster at 10:11 AM on April 29, 2015 [5 favorites]


Maybe you meant "an iconic Hawaiian shirt"?
posted by maxsparber at 10:14 AM on April 29, 2015 [1 favorite]


Honestly, you went to something advertised like this and you're upset people laughed? Look at that preview, it promises laughs.

That advertising totally changes how TFA reads.

Not knowing that this event was pitched as basically a Rifftrax Opera makes an enormous difference. Chances are good that most of the people in the audience attended this event because they were expecting goofy fun. Regardless of what movie they were screening for the event, people went to it expecting to laugh out loud. When TFA refers to the event as "a supposedly sophisticated movie matinee" at The LA Opera, that sounds like a very different event than the one that video advertises.

I saw Hercules in the Haunted World at a movie marathon a few years ago. It's really fun (and typical of Bava's work, it's just gorgeous), and there were a few laughs but the audience was engaged and respectful of each other and the film. If somebody had been giggling throughout the entire movie at that event, they would have been rightly kicked out. From the way this was advertised, though, it seems like constant giggling would have been totally expected behavior.
posted by rabbitroom at 10:15 AM on April 29, 2015 [6 favorites]


The little picture of an iron with an X through it on the care label of a Hawaiian shirt doesn't mean "no ironing" it means "don't wear ironically".
posted by George_Spiggott at 10:28 AM on April 29, 2015 [12 favorites]


The fact that people aren't laughing at old comedies... well, that makes sense. Most humor has a relatively short lifespan. I'd even go so far to say that most humor from more than 30 years ago is so different as to be borderline incomprehensible to people who didn't live through that era.
posted by the jam at 10:29 AM on April 29, 2015


Also, there is a big difference between a helpless giggle, and people who laugh as loudly and as "can-you-believe-other-generations-ever-enjoyed-this"-ly as possible. Laughing and scoff-laughing might sound similar, but they do not actually sound the same.
fiendish thingy

Yeah, years ago I went to a theater screening of Fritz Lang's Metropolis. I kinda love that movie, and wanted to see it on the big screen with the new (at the time) score.

A guy sitting behind me kept scoff-laughing at the acting styles. Yeah, dude, acting styles were DIFFERENT in silent movies in 1927. Shut up already.

Likewise, I was in a program for gifted high school students in 1968. On one of the movie nights they showed "Seven Brides for Seven Brothers". There was a LOT of "do you believe people actually LIKED this stuff" laughing in that. I admit that did look a bit silly to me at the time. Hell, it STILL looks a bit silly (all the dancing and bright costumes), but now it also kinda looks like fun.
posted by Archer25 at 10:30 AM on April 29, 2015 [2 favorites]


I can kind of, sort of, understand laughing at the Godfather, if for no other reason than Brando's performance. Generations of people have grown-up having never seen the movie, but it's a pretty sure bet that they've seen some half-assed comic or another do a Brando impersonation, that is, inevitably, a Don Corleone imitation. So, if that's why you laugh...ok. Laughing at any other part of the movie, though...I dunno. (yeah, except for the gun/canolli line. Definitely put there for a chuckle)

Overall, though, it seems pretty immature to not be able to accept a film on its own terms, especially older films that are products of, literally, another time. Whenever you watch an older movie, you really do have to keep in mind the context of when and how it was made. I'm sorry, but you do. Those films you enjoy today are as good (to you, anyway) because those old films were made in the first place. Film making is a process that is very much informed by its own history.

Just wait until your kids have "Can you believe they watched this mindless junk?" giggle-fests over how bad Age of Ultron is.
posted by Thorzdad at 10:31 AM on April 29, 2015 [7 favorites]


>>I don't actually own or use a mobile phone. But I was somewhat irritated when the usherette in the theatre recently came over and told me turn off my Kindle.

To me "usherette" indicates a girl wearing brass-buttoned livery and a little cap marked "usher" perched on a Betty Grable do, and it's just not working with the "turn off my Kindle" image.


It just made me wonder if he bit her leg in the dark.
posted by brand-gnu at 10:32 AM on April 29, 2015 [3 favorites]


Oh, Mario Bava. I watched several of his films with the most respectful-and-knowledgeable-of-film person I know, and we both laughed at the ending and a few of the death scenes in Bay of Blood.

I've seen Bay of Blood, and I would agree it's over the top, which is kind of the whole point. I could also definitely see people laughing at the ending without it being disrespectful or a misread of the director's intent, although whether you view it as "funny stupid" or "funny ironic" is up to the viewer. With more cult-y directors like Bava or Ed Wood or Quentin Tarantino, I could see a lot more leeway with audience norms in responding to the film, but if you're guffawing in the middle of something by Bergman or Tarkovsky or Bela Tarr, you're probably just being a dick.
posted by jonp72 at 10:33 AM on April 29, 2015 [1 favorite]


Just wait until your kids have "Can you believe they watched this mindless junk?" giggle-fests over how bad Age of Ultron is.

For an odd reason I actually think I have experienced it as they will: I stumbled on a cam of AoU and watched the first few minutes. The scene was intensively composited CGI/Live action (more the former, I think), the capture was lousy as such things always are and the net effect of the lost fidelity and mismatched frame rate was to make it look incredibly unbelievable, more like a five-year-old Playstation game than a modern state of the art effects movie. I kept thinking they're going to pull back and this will be shown to be a computer game someone is playing, because it's just laughably bad. (Maybe they did, I stopped watching. Not a fan of piracy at all let alone bad piracy.)
posted by George_Spiggott at 10:36 AM on April 29, 2015


Next week in the LA Weekly, I went to Sing-along Sound of Music and those cretins wouldn't stop singing. Followed by, I went to an Irish session down the pub and they wouldn't stop playing the tinwhistle.
posted by interplanetjanet at 10:38 AM on April 29, 2015 [5 favorites]


Unless you're a transplant surgeon put the damn thing in airplane mode.

And if you are a transplant surgeon, you can just not go to movies when you're on call and reflect on the fact that you're very well compensated to endure such inconveniences.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 10:39 AM on April 29, 2015 [5 favorites]


Unless you're a transplant surgeon put the damn thing in airplane mode.

If your concentration is so fragile that it gets interrupted by a single glowing screen in the seats in a theater, in a place you're not supposed to be looking anyway, then I don't think you're that into the movie in the first place.

I am also motherfucking sick of this 'Everyone should turn their cellphones off forever when any event is going on.' Turn the ringer off, sure. Leave it on vibrate, sure. But some people are required to be contactable, like, you know, everyone in the military, for example. It's not just 'trauma surgeons.' It's everyone who's on-call for employment, not to mention the people with children, or people with a loved one in the hospital, or hell, even for the mundane, people whose friends are outside the theater trying to find them, and they would prefer they come in quietly and take their seat rather than stumbling all over the theater looking for them which is just a bit more distracting.
posted by corb at 10:51 AM on April 29, 2015 [2 favorites]


My wife and I laughed a few times during Gravity. We couldn't help it. If filmmakers don't want us to laugh they should stop making things ridiculous.

The movie that poses the thought-provoking question: what if the inside of a black hole is the other side of one guy's daughter's bookcase? Oh also GHOSTS!! Oh sorry, I should have said "unseen theoretical authorial stand-in fifth-dimensional future people pretending to be ghosts!"
posted by JHarris at 10:54 AM on April 29, 2015 [2 favorites]


Anyway, speaking as a long-time MSTie here....

I'm with the (awesomely named) Alexandra Kitty on this one, mostly, but there's more to it than just this. Older movies, when they get transparent in their attempts to pander to us utilizing old fears we don't generally have anymore, those deserve some ridicule. Newer movies, however, in their attempts to cater to the lowest common denominator, have come to deserve heaps of it.

I've noticed they have become a lot more shameless on relying on the old filmmaker standbys. In one of his more lucid moments Pinky (of The Brain fame, not Pinkie the pink horse) said "No one can resist a terrifically-manipulative contrivance with swelling music*." But that's not true, eventually audiences learn to resist it, they develop antibodies against it.

* "Except maybe G. Gordon Liddy."

I do think it is possible to take this too far. Moviegoers should, of course, be considerate of other people in the theater, especially if they're seeing a movie in a theater that is only rarely now projected. Laughing at Spock dying illustrates a failure of immersion though, because the impact of Logical Space Elf kicking the astrobucket is a lot less now than it was when Wrath of Khan was made -- we aren't seeing a beloved character who lived through three seasons of a seminal sci-fi series that was always on the edge of being canceled making a heroic sacrifice, we're seeing a reveal that, entirely because of its original effectiveness, has pretty much been known to audiences ahead of time for decades now.

I have to admit I laughed at the "KHAAAAAAAAAAN" part in the the Abrams reboot because it was just such bald-faced fan pandering.

Lots of things in the Abrams Star Trek movies I would have no reservations about laughing at (not in a theater though, if I could help myself).

Not knowing that this event was pitched as basically a Rifftrax Opera makes an enormous difference.

Wow... agreed, that changes the thrust of the event entirely and it could be argued means the essay writer, if he knew, is not reporting in good faith.

On the subject of Marx Bros. movies, it's interesting, the Marx Bros. bits themselves still work fine, and are just as uproarious now as they were then. The parts that we don't like now are the ones that studio execs shoehorned in back then, the sappy love story B plots. Really, go see Duck Soup (their finest work), if you don't find that funny well I don't know what to tell you, maybe you're a robot or something.
posted by JHarris at 10:54 AM on April 29, 2015 [4 favorites]


If your concentration is so fragile that it gets interrupted by a single glowing screen in the seats in a theater, in a place you're not supposed to be looking anyway, then I don't think you're that into the movie in the first place.

I also find it incredibly distracting. Because it's a big shining light in front of me.

I don't mind if someone gets a call on vibrator mode in the theater and gets up to leave to answer the phone. Hell, I don't even mind if someone texts. Just sit in the back row, because then the screen isn't lighting up in front of other people.
posted by maxsparber at 10:55 AM on April 29, 2015 [20 favorites]


People are saying that indulging yourself in derisive guffaws in a room full of other people who are watching the film is a dick move.

I didn't realize people actually did that at movies these days. Does that really happen?
posted by ChuckRamone at 10:56 AM on April 29, 2015


If your concentration is so fragile that it gets interrupted by a single glowing screen in the seats in a theater, in a place you're not supposed to be looking anyway, then I don't think you're that into the movie in the first place.

Uh huh. Meanwhile your self-importance is so fragile that you can't manage to go a couple of hours without tapping-away at your phone to tell the world about what your precious self is doing right now? Please.
posted by Thorzdad at 10:56 AM on April 29, 2015 [35 favorites]


Whenever you watch an older movie, you really do have to keep in mind the context of when and how it was made. I'm sorry, but you do.
Says you. Why do I really have to do anything? And why are you sorry about it? This is like the folks who say you can't call it espresso if there's no crema, or it can't be a decent bagel if it's not from New York. It's snobbery of the highest kind to tell people that, while they may think they're enjoying something, they're not enjoying it the right way. This is what hipsterism is.

I bet I've watched more oldies than you have. There are many, many shitty films from the past. Regardless of historical context, regardless of technological advances, most movies that have ever been made are crappy. You haven't seen them because, for the most part, only the good ones are shown on TV or available from Netflix, but it's silly to pretend everything from the past was any good. Most of it was not any good. And it's perfectly OK for me to laugh at them.
posted by MrMoonPie at 11:00 AM on April 29, 2015


JHarris - the movie you are describing is Interstellar, not Gravity.
posted by InfidelZombie at 11:00 AM on April 29, 2015 [4 favorites]


Why do multiple people in this thread assume the article is written by a dude?

It's getting genuinely weird at this point. I count at least three or four different commenters who've done it, even though Nicholson's full name is in the post itself. Hasty skimming motivated by the need to get one's own oar in as fast as possible?
posted by RogerB at 11:01 AM on April 29, 2015


Does that really happen?

I haven't heard too many guffaws, no. Chortles and chuckles and cackles, snickers and sniggers, a few bellows and some full-bodied larfs, but distinctly few guffaws.
posted by griphus at 11:02 AM on April 29, 2015 [2 favorites]


It isn't only old movies- when I saw Watchmen the entire theater was racked with laughter at every single bit of violence or sex. Apparently attempted rape was hilarious to those folks.
posted by Pope Guilty at 11:03 AM on April 29, 2015 [1 favorite]


If this kind of obnoxious mock laughter is happening, it doesn't sound like it would come from "hipsters" but from fratboy "bro" type dudes or 10-year olds.
posted by ChuckRamone at 11:04 AM on April 29, 2015


I am also motherfucking sick of this 'Everyone should turn their cellphones off forever when any event is going on.' Turn the ringer off, sure. Leave it on vibrate, sure. But some people are required to be contactable

This is not how a society works. I'll admit it's how a lot of people seem to think it does, but the world does not exist for you. If you need to be contactable, don't attend events where that is bothersome to other attendees. The problem with cell phones is they turn public spaces into private spaces and a certain percentage of assholes are ok with that. Look at the genesis of this conversation: someone is reading a Kindle in movie theater and is upset that's a problem. Imagine it were a book with a booklight-- why would that be ok?

If we can't all sacrifice a little to make sure everyone enjoys themselves, we might as well move into bunkers and stare at those goddamn neighbors who are definitely up to something.
posted by yerfatma at 11:06 AM on April 29, 2015 [34 favorites]


You haven't seen them because, for the most part, only the good ones are shown on TV or available from Netflix

Can I have your Netflix? Because I think my Netflix is different from your Netflix.
posted by jonp72 at 11:07 AM on April 29, 2015 [6 favorites]


If this kind of obnoxious mock laughter is happening, it doesn't sound like it would come from "hipsters" but from fratboy "bro" type dudes or 10-year olds.

The intersection of "bros" and would-be "hipsters" isn't always a null set.
posted by jonp72 at 11:08 AM on April 29, 2015 [2 favorites]


You haven't seen them because, for the most part, only the good ones are shown on TV or available from Netflix

Blood Gnome.
posted by maxsparber at 11:11 AM on April 29, 2015


This reminds me of the outrage over people laughing during the opening scene of Saving Private Ryan.
posted by Enemy of Joy at 11:18 AM on April 29, 2015


The intersection of "bros" and would-be "hipsters" isn't always a null set.
posted by jonp72 at 11:08 AM on April 29 [+] [!]


See, for example, the scourge of what I call "brohemians" in Austin.
posted by jayder at 11:23 AM on April 29, 2015 [2 favorites]


If your concentration is so fragile that it gets interrupted by a single glowing screen in the seats in a theater, in a place you're not supposed to be looking anyway, then I don't think you're that into the movie in the first place.

How can I not see when it's someone right in front of me or right next to me? And it's a glowing screen in a dark room, you can't help but notice it.
posted by octothorpe at 11:25 AM on April 29, 2015 [13 favorites]


How can I not see when it's someone right in front of me or right next to me? And it's a glowing screen in a dark room, you can't help but notice it.

I'm having difficulty understanding you, which means we may be talking past each other or I haven't explained myself well. It's not that you don't notice, it's that you choose not to focus on it. I notice lots of things in movies - what the people I'm sitting next to look like, what their cologne is, whether the chair is comfortable or not, when people on various sides enter and leave. But I choose not to focus on it, so it doesn't interrupt my viewing experience. It sounds like you're saying that you can't look away from it once you see it? What makes it such a big focus for you?
posted by corb at 11:29 AM on April 29, 2015


I am also motherfucking sick of this 'Everyone should turn their cellphones off forever when any event is going on.'

Specifically with regard to movie theaters, any allowance for "you can use your phone to take a text from your friends outside looking for you" ... have you not noticed that people are addicted to smart phones? And that if you were to allow that specific use, it would mean basically all use is allowed and anyone not seated in the front row would see a dozen or more phones lit up at any minute, as people maintain text conversations with friends, tweet, check for favorites on Facebook and Metafilter, etc.?

I really can't believe you are defending the use of mobile phones in theaters.
posted by jayder at 11:30 AM on April 29, 2015 [11 favorites]


What makes it such a big focus for you?

It's another, distracting, bright light in a room that was intentionally darkened to allow us to immerse ourselves in the movie.

This isn't a matter of choosing to focus. It is a distraction.
posted by jayder at 11:31 AM on April 29, 2015 [12 favorites]


I'm having difficulty understanding you, which means we may be talking past each other or I haven't explained myself well. It's not that you don't notice, it's that you choose not to focus on it.
corb

If multiple people are telling you it's distracting for them, it's you who aren't understanding.

I'm not sure how much more simply we can express "a glowing light in a dark room is distracting, don't be an asshole: turn your phone on in the movie theater".

The onus shouldn't be on everyone around you to maintain their focus on the screen, it's on you to avoid being a distracting jerk.

The world can wait until after the movie for your hilarious tweet. And if you really, truly can't wait to text something, step outside.

Why is asking you to consider other people so baffling?
posted by Sangermaine at 11:34 AM on April 29, 2015 [28 favorites]


This comment section is the equivalent of the theater audience in the linked article.
posted by late afternoon dreaming hotel at 11:34 AM on April 29, 2015 [3 favorites]


DOWN IN FRONT
posted by griphus at 11:36 AM on April 29, 2015 [6 favorites]


JHarris - the movie you are describing is Interstellar, not Gravity.

Ah! So it is, sorry. They were so going on about gravity in that movie I got them mixed up. (Really, why even call it "Interstellar?" Stars basically don't factor into it!)
posted by JHarris at 11:40 AM on April 29, 2015 [1 favorite]


Why do you find my floral hat so fascinating? Why can't you just stand up and look over it?
posted by George_Spiggott at 11:40 AM on April 29, 2015 [7 favorites]


This comment section is the equivalent of the theater audience in the linked article.

Everyone enjoying the show as advertised while one curmudgeon seethes about the people on her metaphorical lawn?
posted by rabbitroom at 11:41 AM on April 29, 2015


will everyone please shut up I'm trying to read the linked article
posted by George_Spiggott at 11:42 AM on April 29, 2015 [11 favorites]


Why is asking you to consider other people so baffling?

Maybe because you can't muster any empathy at all for anyone who needs to communicate? Your riposte about 'hilarious tweets' demonstrates that you're not even trying to understand why someone might need to stay in communication. And in terms of considering others - yes, I would think that an extremely serious inconvenience for one would outweigh a mild irritation for some few others.
posted by corb at 11:44 AM on April 29, 2015


Maybe because you can't muster any empathy at all for anyone who needs to communicate?

Perhaps you could help us out here. What is this circumstance in which somebody needs to communicate in such a way that they cannot help but have a smartphone lit up in front of the other audience.

I mean, it's not our job to guess.
posted by maxsparber at 11:46 AM on April 29, 2015 [19 favorites]


Maybe because you can't muster any empathy at all for anyone who needs to communicate?

Need to communicate what? "LOL, that guy next to me is getting really annoyed at my texting"?
posted by octothorpe at 11:47 AM on April 29, 2015 [16 favorites]


Maybe because you can't muster any empathy at all for anyone who needs to communicate?
corb

If it's serious enough for you to need to respond during the film, it's serious enough for you to get up and answer outside the theater. That's all that's being said. In what situation would you not be able to do this?
posted by Sangermaine at 11:51 AM on April 29, 2015 [26 favorites]


What on earth could be so urgent and important that you "need" to communicate about it Right This Instant that isn't urgent or important enough to step outside where you won't be bothering everybody else in the theater?
posted by Lexica at 11:51 AM on April 29, 2015 [9 favorites]


The queen of good opinions does it again!
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 11:53 AM on April 29, 2015 [8 favorites]


I mean christ at the very least if somehow your phone emergency and desperate need to be in the movie theater while taking care of your phone emergency are at equal priority you could at the very least get up and walk to the back of the theater and do your business among the frenching teens
posted by griphus at 11:54 AM on April 29, 2015 [5 favorites]


As with most of life's problems, the solution is to stay home and avoid other people.
posted by Enemy of Joy at 11:56 AM on April 29, 2015 [4 favorites]


The last few times I've been in a movie theater, I've found it a pretty decent way of avoiding people to be honest.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 11:57 AM on April 29, 2015


Why is asking you to consider other people so baffling?

Sangermaine, corb. corb, Sangermaine. (You don't seem to have met.)
posted by RogerB at 11:57 AM on April 29, 2015 [4 favorites]


What on earth could be so urgent and important that you "need" to communicate about it Right This Instant that isn't urgent or important enough to step outside where you won't be bothering everybody else in the theater?

Anything time sensitive, for one. I can easily think of half a hundred situations I personally experienced in the military where it was urgent to respond the instant I received the message, not after I moved my crap off my lap, got up, moved past twenty people who awkwardly had to move in their legs, and then moved to the back of the theater. Like, I recall a time when it was serious enough that before cellphones were ubiquitous the way they are now, we were under orders not to go anywhere by ourselves without a phone, so we had to travel together with whoever had a cellphone. And those aren't just discrete periods of urgency - that's long, continuous periods throughout war years.

But apparently, you know, for some people a glowing screen short circuits their entire enjoyment of an 8 dollar movie, which is far more crucial. The things I learn on Metafilter.
posted by corb at 11:59 AM on April 29, 2015


Why are you so unconsiderate of others as to demand that others be considerate? Where is your empathy in asking me to empathize?
posted by George_Spiggott at 11:59 AM on April 29, 2015 [5 favorites]


God, yes. I mean, when I have to go to the bathroom, it takes me at least 30 seconds to get out of the theater, and obviously some people in the theater are going to have to make a split second decision about letting the atomic bombs fly.
posted by maxsparber at 12:01 PM on April 29, 2015 [3 favorites]


I'm also confused why it never occurred to you that if you might have to answer the phone, it might be a good idea to sit in an aisle seat near the exit.
posted by maxsparber at 12:02 PM on April 29, 2015 [14 favorites]


not after I moved my crap off my lap, got up, moved past twenty people who awkwardly had to move in their legs, and then moved to the back of the theater

corb

I once missed my daughter's first five birthdays trying to leave and answer my phone during a movie. I'll never get those years it took me to move down the row back.
posted by Sangermaine at 12:04 PM on April 29, 2015 [25 favorites]


Perhaps if you just brought the nuclear button into the theatre with you, then you could start WWIII without getting up and disturbing anyone.
posted by George_Spiggott at 12:05 PM on April 29, 2015 [14 favorites]


Many theaters have special family-friendly screenings that are specifically targeted at parents with young children. Perhaps they should start having separate screenings that cater to our cellphone-dependent men and women in uniform, as well?
posted by Atom Eyes at 12:07 PM on April 29, 2015 [3 favorites]


What if they threw a war and nobody showed up?
posted by Atom Eyes at 12:09 PM on April 29, 2015 [1 favorite]


Just wear a Pokie to the theater, hide inside it, and text away

You can use the sex holes to look out and watch the movie
posted by prize bull octorok at 12:14 PM on April 29, 2015 [4 favorites]


When I lived in NY I used to specifically accept smaller screens, rumbling trains, or long trips out to queens even though you could see a lot of the same movies at bigger cineplexes, just because I liked the audiences better. There are a lot of ways to react to movies, and it can be very annoying when you sit with the wrong crowd or aren't prepared for the crowd, so you just remember if you're going to the cineplex, people will be crunching popcorn and texting; if you're going to the brooklyn cineplex, they'll be talking; if you're going to the hipster late show, they'll be MST3King...

For the right movies it can be fine, but personally I prefer focused audiences for movies I want to get into. In the right city, there are enough movie theaters that you can choose your audience at least some of the time. Unfortunately, that isn't always true, so sometimes you just have to watch at home...

But, regarding horror films - this does seem like it's specifically set up to make fun of other people. I never found horror films with special effects scary. They were just kind of silly - green puke, heads spinning, eyes glowing - to me, scary was tension or the look of fear in someone's eyes, or some kind of untamed wilderness. So I never got a lot of the 70s or 80s horror films, but, I never found them funny either. I don't see why they would make you laugh unless you were laughing at other people laughing at finding them scary, which isn't really a good kind of laugh to me.
posted by mdn at 12:21 PM on April 29, 2015


this thread shows me why it's so necessary for Alamo Drafthouse to be absolutist about its no phones/no texting policy. there's always gonna be some clown who thinks THEIR reason for using their phone is legitimate.
posted by jayder at 12:30 PM on April 29, 2015 [32 favorites]


this thread shows me why it's so necessary for Alamo Drafthouse

Yep, we've got one that is now under construction less than 5 miles from my house. I cannot wait. I've got a phone that I use constantly, but I ain't using in a movie theater. And I'm sorry, but if the brief time that it takes to get out of the theater and into the lobby is too long for a person to wait before responding to an incoming call, they've no business being in a theater.
posted by Ipsifendus at 12:38 PM on April 29, 2015 [4 favorites]


I immediately knew you were a fellow Omahan.
posted by maxsparber at 12:40 PM on April 29, 2015


Maybe because you can't muster any empathy at all for anyone who needs to communicate?
I can easily think of half a hundred situations I personally experienced in the military


You're arguing from a flawed premise, that the movie theater exists to serve you. It exists to serve people in general. If you have chosen a career or whatever that requires you to be on the phone in a moment's notice and drop what you're doing, you're going to have to catch that shit on DVD, Holmes. I'm going to guess if you polled the next half a hundred people who get on the phone in an inappropriate place, 99% of them aren't transplant surgeons. They're people using their phones to indicate how important they are.
posted by yerfatma at 1:27 PM on April 29, 2015 [17 favorites]


Sangermaine:

Thank God we've grown so sophisticated that we've moved past 2001: A Space Odyssey, Lawrence of Arabia, and The Godfather and see them for the pack of lies that they are.


Actually, they are the biggest knee-slappers of them all -- Godfather and 2001 in particular, and there is nothing funnier than people trying to define sophistication based on the films they choose to watch.

Sophistication is how kindly you treat others and how you behave when you think no one is watching. What artificially constructed and processed flickering images you choose to stare at as your chosen time sink, just doesn't make a person one way or another.
posted by Alexandra Kitty at 1:31 PM on April 29, 2015 [1 favorite]


The whole point of this article is that there are sophisticated ways to appreciate the craft and art of older films, but some people choose to instead show up and un-sophisticatedly mock and laugh at them. So, no, the type of films you watch doesn't make you sophisticated.
posted by easter queen at 1:39 PM on April 29, 2015 [4 favorites]


I don't mind the hipsters texting so much as I mind the goddamned typewriters
posted by disclaimer at 1:43 PM on April 29, 2015 [20 favorites]


I may have misread the context of this article
posted by disclaimer at 1:43 PM on April 29, 2015 [2 favorites]


Commenting without reading the comments (bad me!):

I was at the performance in question. The LA Opera specifically marketed it as, and I quote, "If you're a fan of Mystery Science Theater 3000 or The Rocky Horror Picture Show, you'll love Hercules vs Vampires!" There was a Bingo card included with the program. Attendees were requested to come in costume. They had staffers outside dressed as the various characters from the film, including the monsters, and a photo booth where you could pose with props.

People were laughing because the event was framed as something fun and light-hearted by the opera company. This is like Nicholson complaining about an audience laughing at MST3K's commentary on "Manos: The Hands of Fate."

In addition, while Nicholson implies that this is a critical darling, the reality is quite different. Even a Mario Bava fan site states that the movie is "[s]addled with a terrible script." Critic Ken Hanke says "Typical Hercules/Machiste nonsense not made better by the overrated Bava direction." Combustible Celluloid says "It may not be very scary, but it's loads of fun." B-Movie Central says: "I guess I'll start with what's good about this movie because it's a far shorter list than what's not good about it." Many agree that Bava pulls off some gorgeous shots, but all agree that the script was terrible (oh god was it) and many also note that the acting is weak.
posted by rednikki at 1:47 PM on April 29, 2015 [13 favorites]


Sophistication is how kindly you treat others and how you behave when you think no one is watching.
Alexandra Kitty

Yes, that's what we're asking for when we ask that people like you maybe hold down your signaling of how above it all they are and stop, as jayder said above, "imposing their own sophistication on others in a way that spoils others' experience of the movie."

You've completely missed the point. No one has said anything about taste in film, sophisticated or otherwise, in this thread. There has, however, been a lot of talk about not behaving like a boor during a screening and imposing yourself on others.

You think it's all a gas and how silly it is that people hold these films in high regard, great. Good for you, you have graduated to a higher plane. Maybe other people around you don't, though, and maybe if you're so concerned about how kindly you treat others you might think about your behavior.
posted by Sangermaine at 1:57 PM on April 29, 2015 [12 favorites]


Just as bad are people in the audience of classic comedies who laugh at them in the wrong way. If you go "ha ha ha ha ha" then you don't really get it. Those who know how to appreciate it properly kind of go "hehe heh heh hehe".
posted by George_Spiggott at 1:59 PM on April 29, 2015 [4 favorites]


If Regan crab-walking backwards in the Exorcist director's cut didn't make your heart skip, I don't know what to say.

Yeah, I saw the midnight showing at The Village in Westwood and think about 500 members of the audience peed their pants when this scene happened.

Hell, that was like 15 years ago and I still think about it.
posted by sideshow at 2:06 PM on April 29, 2015


I saw Jaws in a theater recently and it was fun to see how well that film still works on an audience. Everyone still screams when they see the head float out of the hole in the boat.
posted by octothorpe at 2:14 PM on April 29, 2015 [2 favorites]


Thank God we've grown so sophisticated that we've moved past 2001: A Space Odyssey, Lawrence of Arabia, and The Godfather and see them for the pack of lies that they are!

I was going to say I didn't think Ms. Kitty was referring to all movies, but then she outright contradicted me herself and called them kneeslappers. Hm. I don't think sophistication has anything to do with it; one watches a movie because one thinks it will be entertaining, and great movies continue to be so even decades after they were made. That's part of why they're great. (I mean seriously, watch Citizen Kane sometime, it has this reputation as a Great Movie, but it was made with joy and flair and is definitely entertaining, Orson Welles knew how to make something approachable to all audiences, and it's still very watchable now.)

Suffice to say, when I agreed with her above, it was more about things like, for example, movies where miscegenation is presented as a horrible thing, or smoking is casually practiced (like in the example from Forbidden Planet given above), etc. Even in recent decades, as a culture we have moved ourselves to be dreadfully concerned with some ridiculous things, and it's just and right that, now that we see those things as poppycock, that we can laugh at them. But I don't think that should be taken as an indication that all movies must be approached from our modern right-this-second sensibility, which is itself just as fleeting and transitory as the moment when the movies were made. It is rewarding, in many situations, to try to approach a movie from the perspective of its time, just as it is with literature.

We can chuckle at a film's outdated perspective. That's even healthy sometimes. It does mean, though, that we should realize that future generations will be doing their own share of chuckling at us -- or instead maybe crying, considering what our generation has done to the environment.
posted by JHarris at 2:24 PM on April 29, 2015 [3 favorites]


The fact that people aren't laughing at old comedies... well, that makes sense. Most humor has a relatively short lifespan. I'd even go so far to say that most humor from more than 30 years ago is so different as to be borderline incomprehensible to people who didn't live through that era.

There are a couple of schools of thought on this. One is yours, namely that humor itself has a very limited shelf life because it is so entirely context dependent. The other is that film humor in the early 20th century was much less sophisticated than it is now, and that humor from THAT era isn't simply less accessible to modern audiences but of inherently lower quality. Ghostbusters and Back to the Future are now almost 30 years old. I am curious as to whether they hold up better than some vaudeville-derived comedy classics.
posted by deanc at 2:45 PM on April 29, 2015 [1 favorite]


Go back and watch any 90s jim carrey movie and then tell me if you come out of it with any other feelings besides deep seated shame.
posted by Ferreous at 2:50 PM on April 29, 2015 [10 favorites]


It's the same old thing. The most popular books of most any age are unheard of today, and it will be the same with movies. And yet Shakespeare's plays were extremely populist when they were made, full of bawdy puns and elegant subtext alike.

Time is the only infallible determinant of greatness. But sometimes you can get a sense? Looney Tunes are still 90% terrific, in fact they're kind of funnier now because the tone of our age was, to a slight degree, set by them. Ghostbusters I think might be remembered because it's actually pretty low key for most of the movie (a major antagonist is a public official after all), heavy special effect movies tend not to persist in memory unless they bring something else to the table, like Star Wars' mythicness. (And the jury's still out on whether Star Wars will stand the test of time.)
posted by JHarris at 2:56 PM on April 29, 2015


(like in the example from Forbidden Planet given above)

It was The Day the Earth Stood Still

JHarris do we need to have a sit-down about your misidentification of sci fi movies in this thread
posted by prize bull octorok at 2:56 PM on April 29, 2015 [14 favorites]


We probably do. Argh. (Now people are going to point to Star Wars in my previous comment and say that I was actually thinking about Battle Beyond the Stars or some such.)
posted by JHarris at 2:58 PM on April 29, 2015 [4 favorites]


Ferreous: "Go back and watch any 90s jim carrey movie and then tell me if you come out of it with any other feelings besides deep seated shame."

But that's how I felt about them when they were new.
posted by octothorpe at 3:18 PM on April 29, 2015 [6 favorites]


I desperately need a chrome extension to turn "hipsters" into "kids these days".

I want one to turn "poop" into "human shit"
posted by thelonius at 3:22 PM on April 29, 2015 [2 favorites]


t octothorpe: Imagine the new more powerful levels of shame you could experience from them! Cask strength discomfort!
posted by Ferreous at 3:28 PM on April 29, 2015


Norms arise out of value systems, premises, and worldviews. That is why conflicts about norms are not reconciled if there is no attempt to understand the other person's values. So these "hipsters" exhibit an irreverence towards certain movies as well as the movie theater experience in general. But since their norms conflict with my own, should I think of it as an erosion of respect for art and its one-way mode of communication; an exercise—even if unconsciously performed—of the audience's intellectual freedoms? What seems to be the difficulty is this calculus, of determining what is gained outweighs what is lost. It is a hard question.
posted by polymodus at 3:33 PM on April 29, 2015 [1 favorite]


They're people using their phones to indicate how important they are

Or how important they think they are.
posted by futz at 3:38 PM on April 29, 2015


Your don't have a problem withheld Margaret Dumont as a straight-woman, do you? She was amazing. Part of it was that she really didn't get the jokes.
posted by persona au gratin at 3:54 PM on April 29, 2015


That moment in Pulp Fiction could definitely cause that reaction.

Every time I've seen a Tarantino movie in the theater there are a lot of parts where the audience isn't sure whether to laugh - I'm pretty sure that's mostly intended. Personally I'm pretty sure I laugh at the scene you're talking about every time but the way people responded to Samuel Jackson's character in Django Unchained was a bit discomfiting.

Anyway is this guy's primary example seriously an Italian Hercules movie? I love that kind of stuff but of course it's funny sometimes. I guess the context of the special screening makes it a little different. I'll also always remember when I rented The Exorcist as kid expecting it to be scary and it was... not laugh-out-loud funny really just kinda silly and lame to me. Since then multiple film buff types have chided me on the aesthetic brilliance that failed to appreciate, and they're right that there's more to it than I knew when I was younger. But it was a bit of an effect-driven jump-scare movie in its day and of course that part didn't hold up.

2001, even. I have a hard time picturing people laughing at that movie because everyone I've seen it with already knew what it's "about" - the way it looks, the way it sounds, the horror of Bowman alone and at the mercy of HAL. And it's definitely one where I would be mad if people were making enough noise to break the spell of that stuff. But if someone wandered in expecting plot? Of course they'd be like what the hell is this portentous shit - though I have a hard time picturing that person making it very far into the movie.
posted by atoxyl at 4:09 PM on April 29, 2015 [1 favorite]


I've seen several classic films in LA--noir stuff, Lawrence, that sort of thing. Marx Bros, too. Everyone was appreciative and respectful. Actually very respectful, as if to one's elders. I figured the theaters were full of film people who did think of these people as their elders.
posted by persona au gratin at 4:10 PM on April 29, 2015 [1 favorite]


Just who does this Amy fellow think he is, writing an article like this?
posted by Atom Eyes at 4:26 PM on April 29, 2015 [6 favorites]


I know a man named Amy

#NotAllAmys
posted by prize bull octorok at 4:39 PM on April 29, 2015 [3 favorites]


I did not even understand that Hercules vs Vampires was not the same as the title of the Mario Bava film. I look into after reading the article in which the author keeps referring to it as Hercules in the Haunted World. She was very much in the wrong place; I'm almost surprised she didn't complain that there was singing rather than the original Italian soundtrack.

I mean, generally I would expect far better theater etiquette from an opera audience, but not in this instance given the way LA Opera marketed this. They were encouraging costumes and laughs.


(What I wrote above regarding this production and the work Opera Theater Oregon is doing was rather dismissive and that was unfair. I don't think I would have gone to this but they're still doing very creative work, exploring what can be done with opera and I should be more open to that. If I'm being honest I'd be thrilled someone was performing Giasone near me, even if it was cut to fit a film).
posted by mountmccabe at 4:43 PM on April 29, 2015 [1 favorite]


Actually, they are the biggest knee-slappers of them all -- Godfather and 2001 in particular, and there is nothing funnier than people trying to define sophistication based on the films they choose to watch.

Ah yes, the "I don't get it so it's all elitist Emperor's New Clothes". I have to admit, it's working like a charm for the conservative movement in this country. What if I just like the movies and don't have a particular opinion about myself or try to tell you how smart I am? Am I still not allowed to like Lawrence of Arabia or Citizen Kane? Much like the person who wants me to just stop noticing them texting, why do I have to adjust what I like based on your self esteem?
posted by yerfatma at 4:44 PM on April 29, 2015 [4 favorites]


I'm glad there was a good crowd at the 4K restoration of "Lawrence of Arabia" I caught a couple of years ago.

And I'm pretty sure the ones laughing all the way through "The Exorcist" grew up on a steady diet of reality TV. Wink, wink, nudge, nudge... we all know it's not really "reality." We know how smart all you in the audience are! Now, buy this bottle of booze.
posted by Sheydem-tants at 4:57 PM on April 29, 2015 [1 favorite]


Am I still not allowed to like Lawrence of Arabia or Citizen Kane?

I actually place Citizen Kane firmly in the category of "you kind of had to be there" great films. It was stunningly innovative for its time from a technical point of view, but from a modern perspective, the impressive use of depth of field, the ability to have actual ceilings in the setting, the whole concept of Orson Welles as auteur aren't that mindblowing anymore. Then add in the fact that "Rosebud" and another pivotal moment have become punchlines and it loses some of its punch for modern audiences.
posted by deanc at 5:22 PM on April 29, 2015 [5 favorites]


They're people using their phones to indicate how important they are

Phones haven't been a status symbol in a long time. Use in a theatre marks you as a wannabe teenager.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 5:23 PM on April 29, 2015 [1 favorite]


>>We've seen no need for "TV theaters" for example.
>
> Except for every sports bar in existence. And a good number of mid-range chain restaurants.


I don't think having a TV on in public makes it a theater.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 5:52 PM on April 29, 2015


So should members of the armed forces also be allowed to text while driving or
posted by shakespeherian at 6:10 PM on April 29, 2015 [13 favorites]


I've always thought this exchange in The Godfather was pretty funny:
Jack Woltz: Johnny Fontane will never get that movie! I don't care how many dago guinea wop greaseball goombahs come out of the woodwork!

Tom Hagen: I'm German-Irish.

Jack Woltz: Well, let me tell you something, my kraut-mick friend, I'm gonna make so much trouble for you, you won t know what hit you!
Woltz immediately pivots from an impressive five-slur rant against Italians to a (perfectly hyphenated!) German-Irish twofer after Hagen corrects him.
posted by kirkaracha at 6:31 PM on April 29, 2015 [4 favorites]


the impressive use of depth of field, the ability to have actual ceilings in the setting, the whole concept of Orson Welles as auteur aren't that mindblowing anymore

Well, he was 25 when he co-wrote, starred in, produced, and directed Citizen Kane, which was nominated for nine Academy Awards. That's a pretty mind-blowing accomplishment.
posted by kirkaracha at 6:43 PM on April 29, 2015 [7 favorites]


Citizen Kane is still a fun and entertaining film with great performances and writing even if you don't appreciate the innovative staging and cinematography.
posted by octothorpe at 6:52 PM on April 29, 2015 [6 favorites]


The Lascaux cave paintings aren't all that once you've seen what CGI can do
posted by George_Spiggott at 7:03 PM on April 29, 2015 [11 favorites]


sistine chapel my ass any kid with photoshop
posted by George_Spiggott at 7:06 PM on April 29, 2015 [2 favorites]


I'm glad there was a good crowd at the 4K restoration of "Lawrence of Arabia" I caught a couple of years ago.

Yeah, I saw the 70MM restoration print in an art house theater in LA. It was quite a few years back, but it was a hell of a show. By the time Intermission came around (with a full orchestral accompaniment) the audience really needed a break. There are a lot of films you can watch casually, but Lawrence of Arabia is not like that, you stay glued to the screen and it takes your full mental effort just to process the monumental Super Panavision 70 images. I don't recall hearing much of anything from the audience except maybe an occasional gasps of shock.

But it takes all kinds. I remember seeing Tarkovski's Solaris in a theater. There was a group in front of us, one guy kept bitching about how boring it was. He was bumming me out, I knew it would be slow paced and I was ready for it. Finally he stomped out and told his friends he'd meet them afterwards. It was years later that I read an interview with Tarkovski, he said he deliberately made the first hour as boring as possible, so he could bore the short-attention span people right out of the audience, the people that remained were his REAL audience. And THEN the film started rolling. Anyway, my girlfriend and I went to Canter's Deli for dinner after the show, and then who plops down in the booth right behind me? Mr. Short Attention Span and his friends. And he immediately resumed his rant about how boring the film was. We moved to a different table.
posted by charlie don't surf at 10:05 PM on April 29, 2015 [3 favorites]



So no, those snickering are the sophisticates. They see the attempts at emotional manipulation and treat it the right way.

I wrote a book about how lies become news and I poured through literally thousands of original reports from articles to broadcasts. What melodrama, what epic tragedy, but what malarkey: it was all made up to exploit a reporter and/or audience. Once you figure out the scam, goodbye tears, hello laughter.

It is not about feeling superior: it is about someone else thinking he is so smart, he is the only one who is in complete control of your thoughts and feelings. Not happening!


The idea that enjoying a work of fiction is an antagonistic contest between the creator and the viewer that the viewer "wins" by refusing to be immersed or affected is about as juvenile as it gets, and I'm always surprised when someone older than 15 or so expresses it in earnest.
posted by kagredon at 10:38 PM on April 29, 2015 [15 favorites]


valkane, MarioBrava? plsfix

I have two bits about this. The first is that time I hit the Waverly in the Village for a midnight showing of Blue Velvet. There were about eight other people there, and I was the only one laughing. Lynch is probably one of the seminal simultaneous-ironic-and-unironic directors, so I don't begrudge them their wanting to enjoy it another way, but there was no way I couldn't be dissolving in giggles regularly. (I just saw Wild At Heart, and tittered a bit, but it's much farther down my list of Lynch films. And maybe it was seeing it on a home TV (even a big one), and maybe it was keeping up with Baltimore on Twitter at the same time, but I just wasn't nearly as engaged.)

The other I feel a bit more crestfallen about. A friend and I saw Leaving Las Vegas together, and I started out taking this highly awarded/nominated fare quite seriously, but she didn't, and by the end we were both giggling uncontrollably at what was obviously intended as emotionally wrecking cinema. I am absolutely certain that the hundred-plus audience was pissed as hell at us, and I'm sorry for that. It wasn't much longer after that that Cage's reputation began to sink bees and today I'm sure a few more people see him "ACTING!" and have a similarly unpersuaded take on it. But at the time....

Anyway, I thought there was some interesting discussion about this centering on James Bond a couple of years ago, like this piece. And I felt that way at the time, but since, I've maybe come around a bit. I'm the first 007 fan to declare his love for a more serious, emotionally damaged Bond, and darker character journeys as in Casino Royale and Skyfall; my favorite Bond is Dalton, after all. But the whole series was intended as breezy, fun adventure, with silly moments and lightness throughout (and of course got arguably much too light in the Moore years), so some outright enjoyment is expected. On the other hand, it does seem that certain viewers are simply unable to indulge in the escapism inherent, and thus can't get into the Bond character as such. I mostly just think these viewers are cheating themselves.
posted by dhartung at 11:09 PM on April 29, 2015


Fixed. Sorry.
posted by valkane at 4:13 AM on April 30, 2015


I have come to realize that I've lost the "sit down and shut up" battle in the movie theater. I pretty much just don't go anymore. The few times I do, it's always the same thing, no matter the movie: talking, fidgeting, playing with phones, for some reason rattling crinkly-ass plastic bags through the movie, anything except just sitting down and shutting up. And it's not kids, it's people of all ages. So screw it, I watch at home. I see no advantage to doing otherwise. I've ceded the ground.
posted by Legomancer at 6:23 AM on April 30, 2015 [2 favorites]


that time I hit the Waverly in the Village for a midnight showing of Blue Velvet.... there was no way I couldn't be dissolving in giggles regularly.

I don't get this. There is pretty much NO movie that elicits involuntary, uncontrollable laughter/giggles/whatever from me. I have long suspected that the "I just can't stop myself from giggling" thing is more rooted in a reflexive desire to display cultural superiority, rather than a truly involuntary "dissolving into giggles" because you truly find it funny.
posted by jayder at 7:13 AM on April 30, 2015 [2 favorites]


The brain spawn hate all consciousness. The thoughts of others screech at them like the forced laughs of a billion art-house patrons.
posted by laptolain at 7:15 AM on April 30, 2015 [1 favorite]


I've long found all of David Lynch's films to be highly comedic.
posted by shakespeherian at 7:25 AM on April 30, 2015


I have never spontaneously, uncontrollably laughed at anything in a movie. Ergo, no one has, and anyone who says different is a big ol' fake. [Puffs pipe, bubbles come out]
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 7:27 AM on April 30, 2015 [5 favorites]


I have never spontaneously, uncontrollably laughed at anything in a movie. Ergo, no one has, and anyone who says different is a big ol' fake. [Puffs pipe, bubbles come out]
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 7:27 AM on April 30 [2 favorites +] [!]


... and it has always struck me as fake when other people do it.
posted by jayder at 9:35 AM on April 30, 2015


This whole thing about apocryphal "Trauma Surgeons" or "the military" needing to answer their phone (therefore you should never judge a bright glowing screen) is such special pleading horseshit. I dated the daughter of a cardiologist; Actual doctors have phones/pagers they keep on vibrate, and when they're on-call they avoid drinking or situating themselves in places where their immediate exit can be facilitated at a moment's notice.

Absolutely no one who is any good at their job and/or has an ounce of professionalism has to take a phone-call seated in a movie theatre, and the only reason anyone argues to the contrary is because they are self-centered and probably 12.
posted by Uther Bentrazor at 9:58 AM on April 30, 2015 [14 favorites]


There is pretty much NO movie that elicits involuntary, uncontrollable laughter/giggles/whatever from me.

Wait...who's supposedly reflexively advertising their superiority here?
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 10:52 AM on April 30, 2015 [2 favorites]


... and it has always struck me as fake when other people do it.
posted by jayder at 12:35 PM on April 30


Wait, does all laughter strike you as fake? If you tell a joke and someone laughs do you assume they're consciously deciding to laugh and then making themselves make the noises?
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 11:05 AM on April 30, 2015 [8 favorites]


I assume they are attempting to summon donkeys.
posted by maxsparber at 11:15 AM on April 30, 2015 [2 favorites]


fuckin donkey summoners putting ironic hats on the donkeys, driving up property values with their donkey stable-equipped lofts
posted by kagredon at 11:17 AM on April 30, 2015 [5 favorites]


Wait, does all laughter strike you as fake? If you tell a joke and someone laughs do you assume they're consciously deciding to laugh and then making themselves make the noises?

Jesus Christ ... surely you are aware that people sometimes laugh not because they actually find something funny, but for other reasons?

I find laughter of the "I just HAD to giggle my way through Blue Velvet, I couldn't help myself" ilk to often be pretentious pseudo laughter, not the real thing.

This isn't complicated.
posted by jayder at 7:45 PM on April 30, 2015 [1 favorite]


I'm aware of lot of different kinds of laugh, some more voluntary than others, but I'm not sure what you're getting at here.

It's almost fair to say "you people are exaggerating your inability to control your urge to laugh, which you should do to be polite." Though as someone who doesn't often laugh out loud at movies, when I do I'm invariably in a state of mind such that it's fairly unconscious. On the other hand I also don't usually laugh unless other people are laughing. But if if you're suggesting that someone like dhartung is going to a movie and forcing laughs when other people aren't laughing just to be obnoxious I think that's pretty unlikely.

Also, Blue Velvet is funny.
posted by atoxyl at 4:44 PM on May 1, 2015 [1 favorite]


A couple of thoughts:

1. Recently I attended a showing of The Room, a film which gets better with an engaged crowd of people to laugh and take the piss out of it, with a group of people who were so dedicated to their pre-scripted jeers that they drowned out the actual movie, and threw in a lot of fucking casual misogyny besides. I was there with a person who'd never seen the movie before, and felt terrible for them, because The Room is unironically one of my favorite films, and that crowd was precisely the sort that'd turn you off to a film like that forever. If I'd had a bunch of flammable film stock, lemme tell you, I'd have gone Inglourious Basterds on those fuckers real quick.

2. Pauline Kael pointed out that Blue Velvet can be interpreted, structurally, as a romantic comedy. I'll also add that it has some of the best and most hilariously accurate scenes of a college-age boy trying to impress a girl ever committed to film. I dunno if I know another movie off the top of my head that's that precise at demonstrating how ridiculous flirtation can look like, and how little people who like you actually judge you if, rather than being suave as shit, you come across looking like a total goofy goof.

Pauline Kael pointed out that Blue Velvet can be interpreted, structurally, as a romantic comedy. I'll also add that it has some of the best and most hilariously accurate scenes of a college-age boy trying to impress a girl ever committed to film. I dunno if I know another movie off the top of my head that's that precise at demonstrating how ridiculous flirtation can look like, and how little people who like you actually judge you if, rather than being suave as shit, you come across looking like a total goofy goof.

3. I saw Spring Breakers on opening night, and the nervous, uncertain laughter of audience members who were looking for a lot more Selena Gomez nudity and a lot less condemnation of American youthfulness, but couldn't figure out when they were supposed to laugh, made that film. It was the palpable sound of a bunch of people having an Artistic Experience when they were least expecting one.

4. On the flip side, I recently took an impolite friend with me to heckle a movie that I was anticipating not-enjoying and have learned my lesson, which is that it is intensely uncomfortable to be friends with That Guy at a theatre.

5. Lawrence of Arabia was fucking phenomenal in theatres. I cannot imagine people not being entirely overwhelmed by it. Just the thought of it makes me spitting mad, because that is the kind of film that leaves a lasting impression, and I loathe the thought of people ruining it. Ugh.
posted by rorgy at 10:06 AM on May 5, 2015 [1 favorite]


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