Thursday, June 10, 2004


When I go to the movies I am one of those people who likes to see the trailers for coming attractions. I like to arrive with enough time to get my popcorn with butter, milk duds for caramel corn in your mouth and a medium beverage. I like to arrive when the theatre is still empty enough for me to have my pick of seats because I am particular about where I sit. According to this guy I know who is an expert on theatres because he engineers them for rich people's homes, the best place to sit is two thirds of the way back in the center of the row. And he's right.

I often go to the movies by myself on the spur of the moment because I live quite close to The Grove, a new mall that I was quite resistant to because they tore down part of my beloved Farmer's Market to build a gaudy shrine to consumption complete with dancing fountains and a concierge. My feelings changed completely the first time I entered the movie theatre at The Grove. I love this place with it's high vaulted ceiling and ticket agents wearing retro 40s style uniforms complete with jaunty caps. It reminds me of what I can only imagine were the good old days before television when going to the movies was an event and you got dressed up and they had ushers to make sure everyone stayed seated and didn't talk.

When I was growing up going to the movies was an event because we went to the drive-in! My dad would pop popcorn and my mom would get my brother and I into our pajamas. In the back of our white Buick station wagon my dad would make a comfy bed, the idea being that me and my brother would fall asleep shortly after the movie started since it was mostly adult fare that they were taking in and they also wanted to make out. We would drive over the waves of asphalt while my dad looked for the optimum spot with the very best speaker that was close enough to the bathroom - just in case. The bathrooms were located near the snack shop but we brought our own popcorn and snacks because my dad refused to pay those inflated prices for "the crap" at the counter. I think popcorn was $1.25 - those were the good old days for sure.

There was also a playground near the snack shop and bathrooms. And there was something kind of subversive about playing on the swings and the jungle gym in my pajamas after dark. It felt like I was getting away with something even though my dad was the one pushing me on the swings. When we walked back to the car I would look curiously into the private world that existed in every car we passed. A few filled with families, like ours, but mostly adult couples, and teenagers in groups and couples. Because the plan was that the kids would fall asleep my parents would go to see movies like Rosemary's Baby and the Thomas Crown Affair. Since I didn't fall asleep in movies then, like I do now - I also saw those films. Or at least most of them, I usually couldn't make it all the way through to the end. I would finally succumb and doze in the back of the station wagon, laying next to my brother and the next thing I knew my dad was lifting me out of the back of the car and carrying me into my bed. My eyes too heavy to open all the way, I'd ask in a mumble, "What happened to Rosemary?"

I miss going to the drive-in.

But I LOVE going to The Grove and sprawling in the big cushy seats, enjoying every bit of the leg room. However there is a very disturbing trend occuring in movie theatres lately. I mean it's just plain wrong. It's advertising! They run commercials at the movies! Bad ones with Fanta chicks. And ads that make joining the U.S. army look like an outward bound vacation. The ads are bad, but there is something that bothers me even more and that is the stupid PSA where this guy who is a stunt man goes on and on in his plain folks voice about what the different stunts are and how they work, and when I first saw this I thought it was going to be one of those weird L.A. Times ads where they show completely unrelated stuff and they throw up the L.A. Times banner and you sit there and go, huh?, but this guy then goes on to talk about movie piracy! That's right. He states that when someone downloads a movie from the internet or buys a pirated DVD they're hurting all those people who put all those hours, and some who even risked their lives, making that movie. And I'm thinkin' WTF? How does that line of reasoning work exactly. Dude, when the movie wrapped you got your last paycheck and went out looking for your next job. The producers are the guys who take it in the pocket when someone steals a movie! The producers who are more and more going out of the country and giving those stuntman jobs to guys just like you in Canada, New Zealand, Australia and the like.

If you want to proselytize to the people held captive in a movie theatre why don't you tell them to make sure that the movie that they are about to view isn't a product of runaway production? Because that line of reasoning from a stuntman I get. Let the movie producer or the studio head or the director or the actor with points on the back end make the plea to stop piracy - because they are the ones who have something to lose. But I don't know how sympathetic the audience is going to be to say Tom Cruise getting out of the swimming pool at one of his many homes and asking people to not steal movies because it's going to hurt him in his wallet. So they get this guy who is "relatable" to make the plea.

They think we're stupid.

I wouldn't download a movie from the internet, mostly because I can't be bothered to figure out how, but I just hate it when things don't make sense and/or feel manipulative like that message from Mr. plain folks, risking his life for the movies, stuntman guy.


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