Friday, July 25, 2008

I Went to See The Dark Knight

Twenty years ago I used to go to the movies every week or two. These days I go only about once or twice a year. Is it because I have less time now or because there are fewer movies I care to take the time to see? Probably both.

I don't even see every comics-related movie. I haven't seen Iron Man yet, nor even Spider-Man 2 or 3! But I do make a point of seeing every Batman movie and every Superman movie. I knew I definitely wanted to see The Dark Knight during its opening weekend.

Yes, the lines were long, but this new-fangled gimmick of buying tickets online is a good one; I know a space is reserved for me and I don't have to arrive too far in advance of the showtime. Inside the auditorium I experienced a new first: just before the lights went down, one of the ushers belted out a greeting from the front of the theater by the screen. Enjoy the movie, he told everyone, and be sure to turn off your cell phone! How eerie and prophetic those words seem now as I think back.

The lights went down and the previews went up. They had given every audience member a printed survey with golf pencil attached, asking us to appraise each of the previews of coming attractions that we would be seeing. There were about ten previews named on the survey; certainly they couldn't plan to show TEN previews! More tragic than the sheer number of previews was that each one of the movies being previewed looked bad; even in my halcyon days of ultra-regular movie attendance I would not have wasted my time or money on any of the tripe they were parading before me. Then I noticed at the end of the preview list was Watchmen and, wouldn't you know it, they didn't show that preview at my showtime.

Okay, then the movie starts. Batman! I'm ready.
Wait. What's that out the right side of my eye?

What a great opening sequence! That bank robbery, our first glimpse of LedgerJoker, excellent! But wait, what's that light flashing on my right?

The seat immediately to my right was empty, but in the seat to the right of that one was a teenager waving around his brightly-lit cellphone as purposefully as Lando Calrissian brandishing a light saber. Wide-eyed in amazement at this young ruffian's antisocial behavior, I tried to re-focus on the movie screen and was certain the youngster's fascination with his multi-colored gadget would abate and he would soon settle in to paying attention to the movie.


In fact, every five minutes the following scenario would repeat. He would wave his bright phone around and be reading it and then wave it some more, I would physically turn my head to glare directly at him for a drumbeat of five, long, seconds, then he would pretend not to see me glaring at him but still close up the phone, then I would again attempt to re-focus on the movie.

Every. Five. minutes. The same scenario over and over for the first hour of the movie, or was it the first hour and a half? Who was the crazier one: him, for continuing to do what he was doing; or me, for continuing to more or less put up with it for so long? I simmered and I stewed. I plotted what I would blurt out at this apparent incorrigible. I was getting frantic, and the next time he did it I E X P L O D E D.

No, I didn't raise my voice. And no, I didn't squish his face like an overripe tomato. But I did swoop over toward him in a way that rendered him unable to ignore my chiding glance. Well okay, it was much more than a chiding glance. Maybe a more appropriate description would be to call it my homicidal crazyface, and you might have a difficult time believing just how widely I can prop open my eyelids. But wait, there's more. With my left hand I pointed accusingly at his trinket, and I held up my right hand in the posture that screamed HALT! Quite firmly (and more calmly than I thought I would be able to) I said, "Please put that phone away."

My heart was pounding by this time, my arteries about ready to burst, but I felt a little relief when he said "Okay, sorry." He finally put it away for the rest of the show. So that was my day at the theater.

Oh, and the movie itself? From what I saw it seemed pretty good.