The last picture show

Last week I went out to see a movie in a cinema for the first time in close to fifteen years. The movie was Blade Runner 2049, and you can read my notes on it here. But I thought I’d write something on my response to the moviegoing experience. These are my notes.

It was expensive. My ticket cost $14.99. This was for a mid-range matinee. Mid-range meaning between a “general” showing ($11.99) and the deluxe treatment ($22.99). The deluxe pricing is for a theatre with larger seats that, I am told, jerk around and vibrate to match any turbulence on screen. People actually pay more for this!

Yes, I said 3D. I didn’t want to see this movie in 3D, but at the time I wanted to go it was the only format available. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a movie in a theatre in 3D. The latest 3D craze only started after I gave up on moviegoing.

I found it to be an annoying gimmick, but you can’t just take off the glasses and watch the movie normally. I know because I tried. About the only time where the 3D impressed me was a shot looking into a room through a window that was wet with rain. But I don’t know if my noticing the effect added anything to my enjoyment of the scene.

The volume was a physical force. I mean the gunshots were so loud I literally felt them in my teeth and in my stomach. Making matters worse, the bass was making a speaker in the ceiling vibrate noisily every time the soundtrack got really loud. Had no one complained about this? Did the theatre managers not know? I mean, the rattling was really annoying.

Remarkably, despite being so loud I still couldn’t hear some of the muttered dialogue. There was a scene at the beginning where someone said something to Ryan Gosling that seemed really important but I couldn’t make out a word of it. When they flashback to the same scene later in the film I really strained to catch what was being said but missed it again. I don’t blame my hearing. As I say, the speakers were set way too loud. It’s just that so few actors seem capable of delivering their lines clearly. At home I always watch movies with the subtitles on.

Matinees aren’t very popular, even on weekends, but even so there were only seven other people in attendance. Someone behind me said to their friend that it was like a “private showing.” Normally this would make me happy, but it’s hard not to feel like I was taking part in an antique ritual. And really, even given the eye-popping big-screen visuals I would have much preferred staying at home.

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