by Amy Galea
You’ve been there. It’s an early date, maybe the second or third. You’re not sure what he’s expecting- does he even want to watch the film? Was that why he let you pick it? And then, if he does just want to have a quick pash (best, grossest word ever), how do you tell him “why thank you kind sir, but I really want to watch the movie”?
This is a reason, though not the sole one, why I like to go to movies by myself. To be honest, the aforementioned example has, more often than not, resulted in my leaning forward in my chair to clearly demonstrate just how rapt in the film I was.
A more common occurrence is attempting to watch a film with people who don’t understand cinema to the extent that you do. I don’t mean in a pretentious ‘they clearly didn’t attempt film studies at university’ kind of way. But more within the realm of common cinema etiquette. And these people aren’t strangers, they are your best friends, your family members, your next of kin, bone of your bone, flesh of your flesh. And they can ruin an $18 film experience quicker than butter melts on overpriced popcorn.
These people come in many forms. There is the I Have Too Many Questions, who doesn’t seem to understand that waiting for information to be revealed is a major part of the narrative arc that the medium of film has relied upon since the black and white silent shots of the early 1900’s. Then there is the I Don’t Drink, I Slurp who might just want the entire cinema to know that they were willing to fork out their precious dollars for the over priced sugar foods. Then the people who we all hope never to be, the I Make Snide Comments and the My Crotch Is Permanently Lit Up By My Phone. Often these people are one and the same.
Of course, going to the movies with friends and family can be a really positive experience, this we all know. I recently saw Magic in the Moonlight with two friends, we went to a sweet little community cinema in Sydney’s lower Blue Mountains. The most recent Woody Allen film was a great night out because we all understood Woody’s style. We knew there would be a lot of dialogue, a bucket load of existential angst, a few witty one- liners and not a whole lot of action. We laughed in the same spots and we didn’t check our phones. It is nice to watch a film with people who understand what you’re watching and pay homage to the experience you are undertaking.
I suppose the ultimate reason I like to go to the movies by myself is because I’m nostalgic for a time in which I never lived. The times where people dressed up to go to the movies, like it was a real ‘do’. When the line for tickets travelled all the way out to the entrance of the cinema, because people couldn’t stream their films into their lounge rooms. When the carpet was thick and red and the women styled their hair and the men wore jackets.
The last film I saw by myself was after work one day. It was Gone Girl and I was wearing heels, a pencil skirt and a scarf and I liked to pretend that what I was doing was something that was exciting and maybe even a little bit brave. I was going into a room with a bunch of strangers and escaping into a very dark and sinister story. Did Affleck kill his wife? Was he set up? The people around me wore track pants and Ugg Boots but that didn’t matter, I was pretending. I was escaping.
When you watch a film you can be whomever you want to be, and it’s easier to do this when you don’t have people who know the real you on either side of you, whose presence reminds you that when you get home you need to cook dinner, or that tomorrow’s a work day, or that you’re fighting with your mum. You can just escape and maybe even disappear until the credits roll and the lights come on.
Amy worked in copywriting and company branding until she saw the light and began teaching high school students the joys of grammar and essay writing. She currently resides on the South Coast of NSW and enjoys running away from home on a semi regular basis. She believes story telling and caramel popcorn continually make the world a grander place. In days gone by she blogged for literatico and she loves all the pretty things on Instagram.