CINEMA FIGHT!!! AKA: PARENTAL TRIP OUT
Last Friday – or Fritag, if you’re a German – the wife and I took advantage of the kids being in School and Nursery, and buggered off out for the day. Being traditional, we went to the cinema – the Empire one, in Newcastle – where we watched ‘Logan’.
EARLY MORNING CINEMA MAGIC
As it was for a ridiculously early, post school run 10 am screening, the place was deserted. They only had about 3 members of staff in, still setting up tills and such what. It reminded me of the days when I used to work the daytime shift at UCI – as a supervisor – where I would get everything up and running, and then, once the second wave of staff came in, skive off for an overlong poo and a read.
As she’s from the 21st century, my Mrs. had already booked the tickets online using not a PC, but a “smart” phone. That’s a kind of flat, handheld device, about 4″ by 2″, where you actually tap things into a screen with your fingers – no buttons!
It is at this point that the first incident of drama kicked in.
Along with disguarding intermissions; the ice cream lady, and elaborately uniformed cinema ushers, Modern cinemas don’t even have box offices. No, sir. Any member of staff can flog you a ticket. However, most people don’t bother with that, and do what we did. It gives the illusion of choice.
In order to facilitate these modern internet users, dotted around the walls leading into the foyer, are a host of deeply unreliable automatic ticket machines. The automatic ticket machine we went to only farted out the one ticket. My wife and I stared at the ticket slot for a minute, blankly. My other half went off to find one of the three members of staff, whilst I stood guard. Inexplicably, she bypassed a supervisor busy stocking a shelf with over-priced guff, and ended up joining the one till that had a queue.
It was roughly 5 to 10, but that was okay. Everyone knows that there’s half an hour of trailers.
Fortunately, serendipity shone as a heavy set bloke in an Empire uniform strolled past, carrying a blue, cellophane wrapped, cylindrical sack of sweet popcorn. I collared him, and explained our predicament.
The heavy set bloke stared at me for roughly 2 seconds without response, before sniffing back some mucus and dropping the sack. He went to the machine, fished his finger up inside the dispensary nozzle – which I’d already done – and pulled out our missing ticket. “Cheers mate,” I said.
Meanwhile, my wife had bought a large combo of popcorn and a waste paper basket full of coke. Only it wasn’t coke. It was Pepsi.
INTO THE SCREEN
Oddly, the same bloke I’d collared was now manning the usher plinth, tearing tickets in half.
“You’s wanna gan straight in. The projectionist couldn’t get the trailers to work, so it’s already started.”
It was 10:01 am.
…In we went, into the pitch black, burdened with sweets and shit. Slightly annoyed, we climbed the staircase up to our seats – one row from the back, right next to the aisle. Whilst Old Man Wolverine fucked up a bunch of Latino Thugs with his fist knives, we stumbled about getting our coats off; shoving our drum of pepsi into one of the cup holsters.
Anyway. We eventually settled.
GEOGRAPHY THAT WILL COME IN HANDY LATER
Once my eyes had adjusted, it became clear that we were two of just seven or eight people sharing Screen 3. There was:
- Two blokes – Charva Men – in tracksuits behind us in the middle of the back row
- Another couple down in the middle somewhere, and
- A lone, somewhat incongruous old lady two rows down from us
I was enjoying the film.
A BRIEF NOTE ON R-RATED SUPER HERO FILMS OF THE MID TO LATE 2010’S
There’s been a REVOLUTION in super hero cinema of late. Finally, and at long last, we adults can go and watch super hero films where people shout “Fuck!” and rip arms off. And stab other people.
If you completely ignore Blade; either of the shit Dolph Lundgren or Thomas Jane ‘Punisher’ flicks, or ‘Watchmen’, it’s NEVER HAPPENED BEFORE.
The studios have woken up and realised the simple, humble truth: Nobody likes 12A. The screens are full of bastard children, sitting watching content not aimed at them, just so whoever made it – and the fast food tie ins, etc. – can flog more seats. And happy meals.
Films that would benefit from the odd extra fuck, or gore filled stabbing – say all of the Bourne films, and Lord of the Rings – get their wings clipped. All to serve that 12A rating.
Last February, ‘Deadpool’ blazed the trail for this brave new world. In fairness, ‘Deadpool’ is a stupid film. The plot is knowingly bobbins… It’s there to amuse you with post pub shootings and comedy violence, which it does well. You may disagree.
The fact that ‘Deadpool’ made a lot of money back from its small budget, means that we now get to enjoy stabby-shoot-shoot-bang-bang films again.
A BRIEF NOTE ON ‘LOGAN’
‘Logan’ isn’t a shooty-bang-bang film. Well. It is. But tonally – tonally – it’s very different from Deadpool. Which is odd, as they’re both X-Men films.
No, it’s grim, steady paced, and at no point breaks the Fourth Wall. Doesn’t go anywhere near it.
It’s fairly close in tone (and plot) to Children of Men. A violent road movie with an old, arthritic Logan having to escort a little girl – who embodies salvation, etc. – across country, in order to reach some mythical “safe area”. I won’t go into great amounts of detail… I’ll just say that whilst there’s nothing in it you won’t have seen or read before, the performances are uniformly great. It evokes a lot of stuff, from Westerns – explicitly ‘Shane’ which it references – to ‘Beyond Thunderdome’ – particularly toward the end.
However, for a good half hour, I was distracted from all of that. Distracted by the two Charva Men sat behind me.
It’s now time to talk about the second incident of drama.
During the non stabby action bits, where all the character development and talking happened, all I could hear was this:
MAN 1: (Audible muttering – the odd groan)
MAN 2: AYE. AYE. FUCKIN’ AYE… A SEEN THAT, AYE.
There was also jiggling of leg against seat, which reverberated along to me.
I know. Doesn’t sound like much. I tried to ignore it as best I could.
MAN 1: (More and more muttering)
MAN 2: EH? NEE WAAAAY. WAS THAT IN THE THIRD ONE? FUCKIN’… EH?
MAN 1: (Droning on at length)
MAN 2: AYE. A SEEN THAT. WIFF THE FUCKIN’ BLUE LASS??
…And so on. At one point one of them started using their mobile as a handy torch to look for something. Bounced me right out of the 15 rated dystopian drama I was trying to enjoy.
I tolerated about 35 minutes of this back and forward chit chat / torch wielding. English style.
I’d already made a point of glaring at the two blokes on each and every one of their utterances. Inexplicably, it didn’t seem to work. Frankly, it looked like they’d kick off if I said owt… But I didn’t care. I used to throw cunts out of cinemas for a living. And I only almost got killed three or four times. Tops.
Finally, boiling with rage, I craned round my missus and loudly inquired:
“EXCUSE ME! Will you keep the noise down please?”
Everyone in the screen turned around at the sound, eager to witness the fight.
There was some muttering from behind, and then…
I adjusted myself back into my seat, at first folding my arms, before thinking better of it – keeping my arms free to defend against a sudden blow to the head.
The blow to the head never arrived.
At this point my wife – deeply embarrassed at my outburst – leaned in. Right into my ear, in a loud stage whisper – hand cupped to her mouth – she said:
“I THINK THEY BOTH HAVE SPECIAL NEEDS!”
Well… Special needs or not. They’d shut up.
THE TERRIBLE NEED FOR A PISS
For the majority of the second half of the film, I very, very badly needed to go for a wee. It was possibly the second or third greatest need I’ve ever had to go for a slash – with the number 1 slot being the time I delayed urination for almost 4 hours of ‘Apocalypse Now Redux’. I refuse to go during the film, see? Waste of money.
On a positive note, it took my mind right off the fight.
One of the blokes behind us – the main talker – DID go for a wazz, somewhere during the third act. He was in his 40’s, pretty much wearing a leisure suit, and bald as fuck.
I would’ve been murdered.
POST SCREENING DARKNESS
As soon as the credits came up, I raced to the toilet that was thankfully, just outside the screen. Once there I enjoyed an unbroken flow for upwards of four minutes. I also spent some time dusting pop corn and beard dandruff off my front.
I returned to the screen, and back to my seat. Every single person – us included – was engaged in the popular modern pursuit of ‘sticking around during the end credits to see if there’s a bit on the end’. There was nothing to see – no extra bits whatsoever. What’s more, after the last company idents, the entire screen was plunged into pitch black darkness.
After several seconds of stumbling about, falling over things, the heavy set usher bloke turned up and switched some lights on. He appeared vaguely startled to see people still in there.
CINEMA USHER: “Were yous waiting to see the bit on the end?”
CINEMA USHER: “The projectionist had to cut it off. Couldn’t get the trailers on either.”
CINEMA USHER: “It’s nowt to do with Wolverine though… It’s on YouTube. Some Deadpool thing.”
ME: “Deadpool 2, yeah.”
CINEMA USHER: “Aye.”
My wife and I had actually ended up walking down the stairs alongside the two Charva Men who may or may not have had special needs.
As we left we shared observations that there should’ve been a bit on the end. As we reached the doors, the main Tracksuit man turned to me.
“Sorry about before mate. Am deaf in one ear… Didn’t knaa a was talkin’ that loud. Sorry.”
“No, no,” I replied. “It’s alright. I’m sorry I, uhhh…”
And then I looked away.
Some minutes later, whilst pottering about in ‘The Gate’ (the kind of mall thing that Empire Cinema sits on top of), we saw both men again. Some company had laid on novelty table tennis tables, where both men – both track-suited – were in the middle of a fast paced, yet extremely clumsy game of ping pong.
The deaf talker’s brother was indeed, profoundly disabled.
I don’t know what with though… I’m not a doctor.
Thanks for reading!