Cinema Matters #7: Excuse Me or: I’m Going to Punch Right Through Your Huge, Gaping Mouth
I believe cinema matters. This is a continuing monthly series of personal thoughts on film in no more than 750 words.
“Would you be considerate? This is a film screening, not a TV show,” I once got up and uttered my piece to an old couple who were yakking away during a movie. Of course, I meant “please shut the f*** up,” but I didn’t want to come across as a vulgar, self-righteous youth then. Well, they didn’t even care.
It was September 2010, and I was watching The Girl Who Played with Fire (2009), the second Swedish installment of the ‘Dragon Tattoo’ trilogy, at Golden Village VivoCity. There were less than ten people in the hall, but there was a shushing competition going on. I didn’t take part in the competition, because I had to focus and review the movie.
Thirty minutes into the screening, no one was interested in the movie anymore. Everyone was interested in shutting the yakkers up instead. If this were the States, the yakkers might have been silenced forever.
What gets me truly insane is when moviegoers yak loudly during a screening, especially when it is a quiet, contemplative movie like Tokyo Family (2013) or The White Ribbon (2009). Of course, if it is a loud Hollywood blockbuster, I am confident that any theater’s 7.1 Dolby Digital surround system would drown out any potential yakkers.
It was November 2010 in the middle of The White Ribbon when someone’s phone rang. He picked it up, and answered loudly in his seat. It was a business call. This went on for a good fifteen minutes:
“Yes yes speaking… yes I think so… ah yes yes. Ah no worries. Ah yes yes.”
Excuse me or: I'm going to punch right through your huge, gaping mouth.
Several patrons shushed him up and shot him deathly stares. After the movie, three patrons who didn’t know each other but bound by a common humanity ganged up on him. They gave him a good dressing down. He simply said “leave me alone”, and ran away. Not sure if he got the point, but he should be thankful he didn’t get a black eye.
In October 2013 at Tokyo Family, two aunties yakked throughout the movie. It went on for two hours.
“Waaa… the scenery so beautiful! Let’s go Japan leh.”
“Aiya, no time la, I very busy.”
“Waaa… Japanese also got eat ramen like us meh?”
“Of course la, ramen from Japan what. They also got eat cup noodles, you know.”
Excuse me or: My name is Jack Torrance, and I am going to chop both of you twin sisters up with this axe.
All these are vivid memories. Sometimes these people are tolerable because they yak once every twenty minutes. At other times, they are not so charitable. I am fine with people making an effort to whisper into someone’s ear when they wish to comment on something happening on the screen – they are not disturbing at all. On the other hand, some people think that seeing a movie in the theaters is akin to watching television at home.
It might just be me, but in recent years I sense that yakkers are on the rise. That being said, I am sure most of us, like you and me, practise consideration for others. We try to respect other patrons who have paid $12 for a ticket to see the movie. We try to respect the filmmakers by quietly absorbing their work. We try to respect the cinematic experience, of being at one with the big screen and the audience.
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