Saturday, December 17, 2011
Silent means silent. That means you, old lady.
After seeing The Artist Tuesday night, I posted on Facebook that an audience talking during the movie was even worse when it was a silent movie. Some people tried to offer me the glass-is-half-full perspective: At least the noise pollution wouldn't be preventing me from hearing the dialogue.
That's a good idea in theory, but not in practice. Sure, it's possible you would miss some key information if some jerk were talking over the dialogue, but the worse problem created by audience chatter is that it functions as a distraction. If it happens enough, it takes you out of the movie. And with only music playing -- no dialogue, and not even any sound effects -- you can't help but focus on the content of the surrounding chatter. You could look at it this way: In a Michael Bay movie, the talking of other people is not such a distraction, because the explosions tend to drown it out.
Fortunately, I was not taken out of The Artist. But there were a couple of yammering old ladies behind me whose occasional failures of impulse control were downright comical. The thing is, they weren't really that old, even -- mid-50s maybe. I'm calling them "old" because a) they were older than me, and b) their tendency to blurt out whatever thoughts were in their head is trademark old-person audience behavior.
I knew we were in trouble when they came in late, during the trailers, and carried in whatever hilarious conversation they were having outside. Something quite funny had just happened to them, or so they believed, and they had to laugh about it for another two to three minutes after they sat down. Sure, I didn't care that much about the War Horse trailer, but I knew this would be a preview of things to come.
Here were the highlights, all spoken in a regular speaking voice rather than a whisper. They'll make sense to you if you saw the movie, and will not ruin it if you didn't. (Though I'll try to keep it abstract.)
During the dream sequence: "I don't get it."
Later on: "That's all his furniture!"
A little after that: "He shot his dog?"
Then the most mysterious verbal expulsion: What sounded like halfway between a groan and scoff during the film's indisputably effective emotional climax.
At least my wife and I got a good laugh out of it later on.
And speaking of that ... Tuesday night was our first real experience with how expensive a good old-fashioned dinner and a movie can get when you are also using a babysitter. Even a reasonably priced babysitter ($10/hour) like the one we've just started using.
Here's a breakdown of our costs:
Two tickets to see The Artist, including the $1 surcharge for purchasing online: $27
Two Cokes and two bags of Smart Fries: $15
Dinner afterward of gourmet sandwiches and one cocktail each (including tip): $66
3.5 hours of babysitting (including tip): $40
So yeah, we spent $148 on our evening.
We could have saved a couple bucks if they ever started a movie at a convenient time to get dinner first. We went to a 7:50 show, but even an 8:30 or 8:40 show would have allowed us to eat beforehand and prevented our desperate need for some pre-movie sustenance in the form of the theater concession stand.
Dinner also would have been cheaper if we hadn't gone to a place that charges $14 for sandwiches (but oh, they're so good) or if we hadn't gotten cocktails. But what's a rare dinner date with your wife if you don't have a cocktail?
At least we didn't have two. I'd have had to take out a loan or something.