Love it or hate it: Going to the movies

by Anya Jaremko-Greenwold

Love it

Going to the movies can be a spiritual experience. Movie theaters are like sanctuaries or cathedrals, especially for those of us who don’t darken the doors of real churches too often. They’re dark, cozy, the music swells, color and light emanate from the screen, and you achieve a particular intimacy with the actors whose faces you’re scrutinizing.

Sure, it can be a pain sitting next to someone you don’t know, who smells or crinkles their candy wrappers too loudly. And when you inevitably get up to pee halfway through the movie (because the drinks they sell are [bleep]ing huge), you have to squeeze past people’s legs, squashing their toes and tripping over that sticky part of the floor where your shoe gets stuck. That part is not so great. Pro-tip: Always sit on the aisle.

Still, nothing beats the collective experience shared by a group of people watching the same movie. Comedies are funnier when you see them in a crowded theater; viewing the same film alone on DVD just isn’t the same. Dramas are more powerful, too; hearing your fellow audience member’s visceral reactions – their gasps, ooo’s and ahhh’s, furious intakes of breath – makes your own involvement with the film more intense. We’re all impressionable. Hearing the sighs and sniffles of neighboring spectators during a particularly tearful moment only serves to justify our own sadness. By god, this IS sad! It’s not just me!

— Anya Jaremko-Greenwold

Hate it

Never mind that the movies I watch are typically emotionally weighty, psychologically intense dramas or cultural documentaries or cerebral comedies – the types of movies where the size of the screen matters little. Even if a blockbuster-superhero-shoot-’em-up strikes my fancy, going to a movie theater is a terrible idea.

My hatred of movie theaters, like most things I hate, stems from a hatred of one thing: humans.

The last movie I went to, the kind gentleman next to me spent two solid hours scrolling mindlessly on Facebook. That he missed a cool movie (“The Hateful Eight”) was of little concern. It’s just the constant glowing from the adjacent seat made me want to submerge his smartphone in a 64-ounce Diet Coke.

If it’s not cellphones ringing or – gasp – being answered (yep, happened), it’s humans talking. And it’s one thing if it’s just the noise and distraction of talking. But during a recent theater trip, a human sitting behind me would whisper (loud enough, clearly) to her companion what was about to happen. “Ohhh,” she would say, “Get ready: He’s about to walk in on his wife and her lover …” I could only peer painfully at the ceiling and roll my eyes audibly.

And if it’s not the talkers or texters, someone’s bound to accidentally kick the back of my seat 16 times or be an irritable baby, doing what irritable babies do best.

I suppose when it comes to watching movies with others, I prefer it to be with one or two handpicked humans with a command of common decency.

— David Holub


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