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movies1 Robin Askew watches films for a living and he loves them. But what  he absolutely loathes is watching them with other people. Here’s why: My guilty secret

I have a guilty secret. Here goes: I don't like going to the cinema. Or not the big commercial ones, anyway. This isn't an argument about the superiority of a good home cinema set up, though there's a strong case to be made for that.

God knows, I've seen enough films at local multiplexes that are badly framed, out of focus
and projected in the wrong format. The industry in which I am but a tiny cog spews out endless propaganda about the joy of communal viewing. And in an ideal world, this would be indisputable.

What could be more fun than laughing, crying and screaming in a darkened room full of
strangers sharing the same experience? Unfortunately, we don't live in an ideal world. We





 live in a world full of morons.

It is my contention that cinema is unique among the arts in giving a tiny minority the opportunity to ruin the experience for everybody else. My theatre-going chums, for example, tell me that the main hazards are snoring and mobile phones, but the guilty parties can usually be shamed into silence. Any decent gig will be so loud that the cretin contingent are drowned out (sorry sensitive Belle and Sebastian fans, I regret that I am unable to share your pain).

But it takes just a couple of inconsiderate individuals in a crowded cinema auditorium to turn pleasure to misery.

I don't expect your sympathy here. Film hacks are a cosseted bunch who generally get to see movies in empty multiplexes or plush Soho screening rooms.

But the increasing prevalence of what is known in the industry as “hit and run” releases (i.e. chucking out stinkers without any preview screenings in the hope that they'll make a shedload of cash in the opening weekend without poor reviews to put punters off) means that we're more frequently to be found catching early public screenings in order to write our belated reviews.

Ever wondered who goes to the 10am Friday morning shows of new torture porn flicks? I do. Along with a smattering of lone, frequently dishevelled males with the disconcerting and somewhat sinister habit of going "Heh-heh-heh!" whenever someone dies particularly horribly. Frankly, however, I prefer their company to that of any of the following. How the hell do you put up with them?

Talkers

So many sub-groups, so little space. There are those who talk on phones, those who talk to each other and - perhaps most alarmingly of all - those who talk to themselves.

Let's start with mobile phones. Obviously, a special circle of Hell is reserved for people who make and receive calls during screenings. But there are also those who cannot bear to be parted from their umbilical cord to the inanosphere for more than a few minutes. Sit at the back of a crowded multiplex auditorium and it often glows with the additional illumination provided by the mobile communication devices wielded by dozens of people checking and sending text messages and emails, or even Twattering furiously ("Watching film. Bloke behind me seems to be fuming").

Then there's the species of punter I've endured on a couple of occasions who, rather bizarrely, insists on describing what s/he's seeing on screen. "She's got a gun… he's behind her… the dog's got the bomb!" and so, painfully, on. And what about the couples, one half of whom is conspicuously dimmer than the other and persists in seeking clarification? "'Ooo's eee, then? Are they still in the future,? I don't get this…"

More distracting still is the bloke who sets out to impress his girlfriend by explaining the plot – and gets it hopelessly wrong! Resist if you can the urge to tap him on the shoulder and say, "Excuse me, mate – you really haven't got a feckin’ clue, have you?"

Chronic Masticators

When I were a lad, a snack at the cinema meant a shared box of Maltesers which one struggled to locate amid the fug of cigarette smoke (remember that?).

Today's increasingly obese cinemagoers are more likely to be seen consuming vast, nutrition-free three-course meals at their seats, with all the attendant irritating odours and crunching and slurping noises.

There's a reason for this. It long ago became uneconomic for cinemas to show films alone. No, really. If you pay to watch a big blockbuster these days, up to 90% of your ticket price goes straight back to the distributor.

In adapting to the new economics of exhibition, cinemas now make the bulk of their cash from over-priced concessions, which also explains why you're practically strip-searched if they suspect you of attempting to sneak in a sarnie.

Children

I'm going to qualify this, because many years' experience  has taught me that there are three groups one baits at one's peril: god-botherers and their fellow travellers (i.e. agnostics – the Liberal Democrats of the religion debate ageing punk rockers and breeders. So let the record show that plenty of children, especially the offspring of nice middle class Venue readers, are perfectly capable of enjoying films quietly.

However, a significant minority of parents seem to labour under the misapprehension that by purchasing a ticket they enter into a contract that places the cinema in loco parentis for the duration of the film.

Result: hellspawn running up and down the aisles, screaming, kicking the backs of chairs and so on, while their parents – presumably numbed by this behaviour, which is considered normal in the family home – remain supine and slack-jawed, oblivious to our suffering.

Some cinemas now acknowledge this tacitly with over-18s screenings, for which they have the audacity to append a peace-and-quiet surcharge.

The fatal flaw in this concept, however, is the notion that people stop being annoying when they reach the age of 18.

Other Stuff

In addition to the hell that is other people (and I didn't even get around to mentioning personal hygiene) cinemas seem to conspire to pile on the misery. Not content with treating their customers like criminals who have yet to be caught illegally camcording films, they force us to endure endless trailers and ads.

Thanks to the advent of the PVR (Sky+ and the like there's no reason why any sane person should ever have to endure another television commercial. But cinemas don't have fast forward buttons, so we must suffer excruciating aspirational bullshit pitched at social inadequates over and over again.

Oh, and memo to the people who make those funny Orange ads: they're great the first time, moderately funny the second time, and then become increasingly irritating with endless repetition. And nobody takes the slightest notice of the message.

My least favourite ad, however, has to be the 'Be an Insider' one that you get all the time at Showcase cinemas. This plays like a recruitment drive for a sinister religious cult, with smiley, attractive, dead-eyed young people beckoning spods to join them in their exciting inner circle of celebrity gossip, like the Flirty Fishers of the Children of God (Google it).

And even if I was minded to join a religious cult, it wouldn't be the one with that bloke who looks like a serial killer. You know the one I mean.

 

Robin Askew is Film Editor of Bristol’s
Venue magazine.
www.venue.co.uk/film



live in a world full of morons.

It is my contention that cinema is unique among the arts in giving a tiny minority the opportunity to ruin the experience for everybody else.

My theatre-going chums, for example, tell me that the main hazards are snoring and mobile phones, but the guilty parties can usually be shamed into silence. Any decent gig will be so loud that the cretin contingent are drowned out (sorry sensitive Belle and Sebastian fans, I regret that I am unable to share your pain).

But it takes just a couple of inconsiderate individuals in a crowded cinema auditorium to turn pleasure to misery.

I don't expect your sympathy here. Film hacks are a cosseted bunch who







 generally get to see movies in empty multiplexes or plush Soho screening rooms.

But the increasing prevalence of what is known in the industry as “hit and run” releases (i.e. chucking out stinkers without any preview screenings in the hope that they'll make a shedload of cash in the opening weekend without poor reviews to put punters off) means that we're more frequently to be found catching early public screenings in order to write our belated reviews.

Ever wondered who goes to the 10am Friday morning shows of new torture porn flicks? I do. Along with a smattering of lone, frequently dishevelled males with the disconcerting and somewhat sinister habit of going "Heh-heh-heh!" whenever someone dies particularly horribly. Frankly, however, I prefer their company to that of any of the following. How the hell do you put up with them?

Talkers

So many sub-groups, so little space. There are those who talk on phones, those who talk to each other and - perhaps most alarmingly of all - those who talk to themselves.

Let's start with mobile phones. Obviously, a special circle of Hell is reserved for people who make and receive calls during screenings. But there are also those who cannot bear to be parted from their umbilical cord to the inanosphere for more than a few minutes. Sit at the back of a crowded multiplex auditorium and it often glows with the additional illumination provided by the mobile communication devices wielded by dozens of people checking and sending text messages and emails, or even Twattering furiously ("Watching film. Bloke behind me seems to be fuming").

Then there's the species of punter I've endured on a couple of occasions who, rather bizarrely, insists on describing what s/he's seeing on screen. "She's got a gun… he's behind her… the dog's got the bomb!" and so, painfully, on. And what about the couples, one half of whom is conspicuously dimmer than the other and persists in seeking clarification? "'Ooo's eee, then? Are they still in the future,? I don't get this…"

More distracting still is the bloke who sets out to impress his girlfriend by explaining the plot – and gets it hopelessly wrong! Resist if you can the urge to tap him on the shoulder and say, "Excuse me, mate – you really haven't got a feckin’ clue, have you?"

Chronic Masticators

When I were a lad, a snack at the cinema meant a shared box of Maltesers which one struggled to locate amid the fug of cigarette smoke (remember that?).

Today's increasingly obese cinemagoers are more likely to be seen consuming vast, nutrition-free three-course meals at their seats, with all the attendant irritating odours and crunching and slurping noises.

There's a reason for this. It long ago became uneconomic for cinemas to show films alone. No, really. If you pay to watch a big blockbuster these days, up to 90% of your ticket price goes straight back to the distributor.

In adapting to the new economics of exhibition, cinemas now make the bulk of their cash from over-priced concessions, which also explains why you're practically strip-searched if they suspect you of attempting to sneak in a sarnie.

Children

I'm going to qualify this, because many years' experience  has taught me that there are three groups one baits at one's peril: god-botherers and their fellow travellers (i.e. agnostics – the Liberal Democrats of the religion debate ageing punk rockers and breeders. So let the record show that plenty of children, especially the offspring of nice middle class Venue readers, are perfectly capable of enjoying films quietly.

However, a significant minority of parents seem to labour under the misapprehension that by purchasing a ticket they enter into a contract that places the cinema in loco parentis for the duration of the film.

Result: hellspawn running up and down the aisles, screaming, kicking the backs of chairs and so on, while their parents – presumably numbed by this behaviour, which is considered normal in the family home – remain supine and slack-jawed, oblivious to our suffering.

Some cinemas now acknowledge this tacitly with over-18s screenings, for which they have the audacity to append a peace-and-quiet surcharge.

The fatal flaw in this concept, however, is the notion that people stop being annoying when they reach the age of 18.

Other Stuff

In addition to the hell that is other people (and I didn't even get around to mentioning personal hygiene) cinemas seem to conspire to pile on the misery. Not content with treating their customers like criminals who have yet to be caught illegally camcording films, they force us to endure endless trailers and ads.

Thanks to the advent of the PVR (Sky+ and the like there's no reason why any sane person should ever have to endure another television commercial. But cinemas don't have fast forward buttons, so we must suffer excruciating aspirational bullshit pitched at social inadequates over and over again.

Oh, and memo to the people who make those funny Orange ads: they're great the first time, moderately funny the second time, and then become increasingly irritating with endless repetition. And nobody takes the slightest notice of the message.

My least favourite ad, however, has to be the 'Be an Insider' one that you get all the time at Showcase cinemas. This plays like a recruitment drive for a sinister religious cult, with smiley, attractive, dead-eyed young people beckoning spods to join them in their exciting inner circle of celebrity gossip, like the Flirty Fishers of the Children of God (Google it).

And even if I was minded to join a religious cult, it wouldn't be the one with that bloke who looks like a serial killer. You know the one I mean.

 

Robin Askew is Film Editor of Bristol’s
Venue magazine.
www.venue.co.uk/film



habit of going "Heh-heh-heh!" whenever someone dies particularly horribly. Frankly, however, I prefer their company to that of any of the following. How the hell do you put up with them?

Talkers

So many sub-groups, so little space. There are those who talk on phones, those who talk to each other and - perhaps most alarmingly of all - those who talk to themselves.

Let's start with mobile phones. Obviously, a special circle of Hell is reserved for people who make and receive calls during screenings. But there are also those who cannot bear






 to







 be parted from their umbilical cord to the inanosphere for more than a few minutes. Sit at the back of a crowded multiplex auditorium and it often glows with the additional illumination provided by the mobile communication devices wielded by dozens of people checking and sending text messages and emails, or even Twattering furiously ("Watching film. Bloke behind me seems to be fuming").

Then there's the species of punter I've endured on a couple of occasions who, rather bizarrely, insists on describing what s/he's seeing on screen. "She's got a gun… he's behind her… the dog's got the bomb!" and so, painfully, on. And what about the couples, one half of whom is conspicuously dimmer than the other and persists in seeking clarification? "'Ooo's eee, then? Are they still in the future,? I don't get this…"

More distracting still is the bloke who sets out to impress his girlfriend by explaining the plot – and gets it hopelessly wrong! Resist if you can the urge to tap him on the shoulder and say, "Excuse me, mate – you really haven't got a feckin’ clue, have you?"

Chronic Masticators

When I were a lad, a snack at the cinema meant a shared box of Maltesers which one struggled to locate amid the fug of cigarette smoke (remember that?).

Today's increasingly obese cinemagoers are more likely to be seen consuming vast, nutrition-free three-course meals at their seats, with all the attendant irritating odours and crunching and slurping noises.

There's a reason for this. It long ago became uneconomic for cinemas to show films alone. No, really. If you pay to watch a big blockbuster these days, up to 90% of your ticket price goes straight back to the distributor.

In adapting to the new economics of exhibition, cinemas now make the bulk of their cash from over-priced concessions, which also explains why you're practically strip-searched if they suspect you of attempting to sneak in a sarnie.

Children

I'm going to qualify this, because many years' experience  has taught me that there are three groups one baits at one's peril: god-botherers and their fellow travellers (i.e. agnostics – the Liberal Democrats of the religion debate ageing punk rockers and breeders. So let the record show that plenty of children, especially the offspring of nice middle class Venue readers, are perfectly capable of enjoying films quietly.

However, a significant minority of parents seem to labour under the misapprehension that by purchasing a ticket they enter into a contract that places the cinema in loco parentis for the duration of the film.

Result: hellspawn running up and down the aisles, screaming, kicking the backs of chairs and so on, while their parents – presumably numbed by this behaviour, which is considered normal in the family home – remain supine and slack-jawed, oblivious to our suffering.

Some cinemas now acknowledge this tacitly with over-18s screenings, for which they have the audacity to append a peace-and-quiet surcharge.

The fatal flaw in this concept, however, is the notion that people stop being annoying when they reach the age of 18.

Other Stuff

In addition to the hell that is other people (and I didn't even get around to mentioning personal hygiene) cinemas seem to conspire to pile on the misery. Not content with treating their customers like criminals who have yet to be caught illegally camcording films, they force us to endure endless trailers and ads.

Thanks to the advent of the PVR (Sky+ and the like there's no reason why any sane person should ever have to endure another television commercial. But cinemas don't have fast forward buttons, so we must suffer excruciating aspirational bullshit pitched at social inadequates over and over again.

Oh, and memo to the people who make those funny Orange ads: they're great the first time, moderately funny the second time, and then become increasingly irritating with endless repetition. And nobody takes the slightest notice of the message.

My least favourite ad, however, has to be the 'Be an Insider' one that you get all the time at Showcase cinemas. This plays like a recruitment drive for a sinister religious cult, with smiley, attractive, dead-eyed young people beckoning spods to join them in their exciting inner circle of celebrity gossip, like the Flirty Fishers of the Children of God (Google it).

And even if I was minded to join a religious cult, it wouldn't be the one with that bloke who looks like a serial killer. You know the one I mean.

 

Robin Askew is Film Editor of Bristol’s
Venue magazine.
www.venue.co.uk/film




generally get to see movies in empty multiplexes or plush Soho screening rooms.

But the increasing prevalence of what is known in the industry as “hit and run” releases (i.e. chucking out stinkers without any preview screenings in the hope that they'll make a shedload of cash in the opening weekend without poor reviews to put punters off) means that we're more frequently to be found catching early public screenings in order to write our belated reviews.

Ever wondered who goes to the 10am Friday morning shows of new torture porn flicks? I do. Along with a few lone, frequently dishevelled males with the disconcerting and somewhat sinister



habit of going "Heh-heh-heh!" whenever someone dies particularly horribly. Frankly, however, I prefer their company to that of any of the following. How the hell do you put up with them?

Talkers

So many sub-groups, so little space. There are those who talk on phones, those who talk to each other and - perhaps most alarmingly of all - those who talk to themselves.

Let's start with mobile phones. Obviously, a special circle of Hell is reserved for people who make and receive calls during screenings. But there are also those who cannot bear to be parted from their umbilical cord to the inanosphere for more than a few minutes. Sit at the back of a crowded multiplex auditorium and it often glows with the additional illumination provided by the mobile communication devices wielded by dozens of people checking and sending text messages and emails, or even Twattering furiously ("Watching film. Bloke behind me seems to be fuming").

Then there's the species of punter I've endured on a couple of occasions who, rather bizarrely, insists on describing what s/he's seeing on screen. "She's got a gun… he's behind her… the dog's got the bomb!" and so, painfully, on. And what about the couples, one half of whom is conspicuously dimmer than the other and persists in seeking clarification? "'Ooo's eee, then? Are they still in the future,? I don't get this…"

More distracting still is the bloke who sets out to impress his girlfriend by explaining the plot – and gets it hopelessly wrong! Resist if you can the urge to tap him on the shoulder and say, "Excuse me, mate – you really haven't got a feckin’ clue, have you?"

Chronic Masticators

When I were a lad, a snack at the cinema meant a shared box of Maltesers which one struggled to locate amid the fug of cigarette smoke (remember that?).

Today's increasingly obese cinemagoers are more likely to be seen consuming vast, nutrition-free three-course meals at their seats, with all the attendant irritating odours and crunching and slurping noises.

There's a reason for this. It long ago became uneconomic for cinemas to show films alone. No, really. If you pay to watch a big blockbuster these days, up to 90% of your ticket price goes straight back to the distributor.

In adapting to the new economics of exhibition, cinemas now make the bulk of their cash from over-priced concessions, which also explains why you're practically strip-searched if they suspect you of attempting to sneak in a sarnie.

Children

I'm going to qualify this, because many years' experience  has taught me that there are three groups one baits at one's peril: god-botherers and their fellow travellers (i.e. agnostics – the Liberal Democrats of the religion debate ageing punk rockers and breeders. So let the record show that plenty of children, especially the offspring of nice middle class Venue readers, are perfectly capable of enjoying films quietly.

However, a significant minority of parents seem to labour under the misapprehension that by purchasing a ticket they enter into a contract that places the cinema in loco parentis for the duration of the film.

Result: hellspawn running up and down the aisles, screaming, kicking the backs of chairs and so on, while their parents – presumably numbed by this behaviour, which is considered normal in the family home – remain supine and slack-jawed, oblivious to our suffering.

Some cinemas now acknowledge this tacitly with over-18s screenings, for which they have the audacity to append a peace-and-quiet surcharge.

The fatal flaw in this concept, however, is the notion that people stop being annoying when they reach the age of 18.

Other Stuff

In addition to the hell that is other people (and I didn't even get around to mentioning personal hygiene) cinemas seem to conspire to pile on the misery. Not content with treating their customers like criminals who have yet to be caught illegally camcording films, they force us to endure endless trailers and ads.

Thanks to the advent of the PVR (Sky+ and the like there's no reason why any sane person should ever have to endure another television commercial. But cinemas don't have fast forward buttons, so we must suffer excruciating aspirational bullshit pitched at social inadequates over and over again.

Oh, and memo to the people who make those funny Orange ads: they're great the first time, moderately funny the second time, and then become increasingly irritating with endless repetition. And nobody takes the slightest notice of the message.

My least favourite ad, however, has to be the 'Be an Insider' one that you get all the time at Showcase cinemas. This plays like a recruitment drive for a sinister religious cult, with smiley, attractive, dead-eyed young people beckoning spods to join them in their exciting inner circle of celebrity gossip, like the Flirty Fishers of the Children of God (Google it).

And even if I was minded to join a religious cult, it wouldn't be the one with that bloke who looks like a serial killer. You know the one I mean.

 

Robin Askew is Film Editor of Bristol’s
Venue magazine.
www.venue.co.uk/film




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