Tuesday, April 24, 2012

The trouble with free screenings redux

Originally published on September 28, 2005

Last night I happened to be at one of these promotional screenings that are populated with people who are there for one reason: free movie! When the film is some brainless popcorn blockbuster this is fine with me as I don't need to pay much attention to write a 500 word review and don’t become bothered by the chatter and noise that will come from the audience.

But last night I was trying to watch the new David Cronenberg movie, A History of Violence, with a packed theatre and it was rough going (I should have known there would be issues when I saw that the crowd was culled from the listeners of a local sports station known as the “Sports Buzz” and an urban top 40 station called “Powr95”). Brutish, loud behavior erupted continuously from the emotionally stunted and just rude people who were there because it was free.

For example, there is kind of a heated sex scene between Viggo Mortensen and Maria Bello that involves oral sex in a more ramped up way than is normally seen in American films. Giggling and cackling erupted all over the theatre like the audience was nothing but hormone drenched junior high boys. It was embarrassing. I was embarrassed for these people. One guy sitting next to me kind of moans out loud during the scene while saying to anyone within earshot, “That’s what I’m talking about right there.” Thanks for sharing, you moron.

Bello later does a brief full frontal nude scene and you would have thought the first lady Laura Bush was baring her pasty, robot-ass pubes up there the way people gasped and guffawed. And people act surprised when Americans are accused of backward, prudish thoughts regarding sexuality? Come watch a free movie in Tulsa with adult themes with (gasp!) naked people and those stereotypes will hit you full on in the face.

Even the violence in the story drew protests and shock from the people around me. This was a David Cronenberg movie people! But, as I said, the audience was here because it was free, not because the film is getting seriously good reviews or because of Cronenberg’s previous films. The shame is I was there as an avid film lover and an adult who can handle adult themes. Unfortunately, these repressed yahoos couldn’t.

I was at another free press/public screening a few months ago for a film called Me and You and Everyone We Know. I loved this movie but it is not for everyone, as it is a hyper-quirky meditation on love and how people connect or disconnect from one another in the 21st century world.

Well, an aspect of the film involves children and sexuality—a taboo subject if there ever was one. I counted six walk outs during one scene in particular. I felt kind of sorry for those people leaving. I can see them muttering to each other during the film: “I don’t care if this is free, what in the hell is this junk? Some eight year old talking about poo in and out of butts forever and people pay for this garbage? Let’s get the hell out of here and go watch Flightplan, now that’s some real moviemaking!”

Do people ever look and see what movie it is they are getting free passes to? My experience says no, they just show up and expect the formulaic dreck that usually comes down the road. When they come face to face with something odd or surprising, they turn away, get up and leave or sit and giggle like teenagers.

Here’s hoping that next time I’m at one of these screenings every single person will get up and leave the theatre who is shocked, freaked out, disturbed, offended, sickened by what they see. If I’m the only person left in the darkened theatre after they’ve left in a huffing-mad horde, that would be fine and dandy by me.


hidden staircase said...

can't believe you will keep going to these - so annoying and for you especially!

hidden Staircase said...

der, i just saw the original post date! confused b'c i thought this just happened. this is how un-up i am on cronenberg, ha.

redux, redux!

Joshua Blevins Peck said...

Yeah, just a best of w/ a Miranda July bit since I just reviewed THE FUTURE. I haven't been to one of these in awhile.

Rumblefish said...

I had the same kind of experience with "Eastern Promises" in Austin. There was a pack of late, late middle age women in front of me who were obviously there to see Viggo Mortensen and were horrified by the violence. Again, they obviously didn't check out what movie they were coming to see. During the naked shower fight scene, one of them finally said "Well THAT is enough!" "Good!" I thought, "Please, leave and go see whatever Diane Keaton movie is out now."

I now avoid anything that is partially sponsored by Hot 95. Lord, don't even get me started on the free "The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford" screening. Remember when Brad Pitt tells someone that they "are acting queer"? Oh, you'd have thought it was all 8-yr-olds in there.

Joshua Blevins Peck said...

I can only imagine how people took to that slow, deliberate western! That was probably not a crowd-pleaser if they got there via Hot95 and that ilk of radio.

Viggo was in my story as well--too funny! The nude fight scene just put them over the top, ha.