I’d be hard-pressed to deny that Portsmouth is not one of the finest cities out there. Much of it is cluttered, noisy and unappealing, whether for business or living. That’s my limited experience, at least, on the Portsmouth environment. It’s no surprise that I confess I was not part of the Google Maps street view capture mission that began years ago – driving around every road the city has to offer with photography equipment in tow – so any marginalised vestiges of hope hidden away maybe counter my demeaning comments.
But further south away from the swarming central city congestion is the more inviting areas of Portsmouth: Southsea Seafront and Gunwharf Quays. Popular areas that are cleaner, colourful, modern… pleasant. And offering a myriad of family activities, shops, and attractions.
My focus on this entry is one place though; the place I’ve found myself most (alas, it’s true) – Vue Cinema.
As a lover of film, nothing matches a big screen experience. Yet I find myself torn in my feelings of cinema. Nothing to do with the picture quality, the surround sound, or the affable staff… but the company you must so often keep with other movie-goers; the ones who are devoid of social etiquette. So, lets take a look at them all, categorised and labelled. Some will surely be familiar, and maybe you harbour similar grudges against those that disrupt a payed experience.
1. The Eaters (I’ll split this one in two because it’s necessary to differentiate).
a). The Competent Eaters
Generally, I don’t have a problem with people eating. Mainly because 90% of the audience seem to eat at some point so I’ve got to just suck it up and ignore it. As long as people are courteous, no harm done. They refrain from chomping their loudest, are aware of their surroundings, and have their food close by. AKA – Competent Eaters. But sometimes you have to question that certain someone who never stops eating from the adverts to the credits. It’s unnecessary. Save some for later. When you’re not watching a film. Or in company.
b.) The Incompetent Eaters
It’s inevitable you’ve encountered one of these unruly specimens. The ones who seem quiet and amicable until the film begins and THEN, and only then, they remember they stockpiled the entire kitchen, save for the sink. It’s not just their timing that’s off either. They are also unbelievably uncoordinated, rummaging around in their bag of magical depth for those delectable crunchy crisps for a generous amount of time.
Hey, no rush, take your sweet ass time searching, I look forward to hearing you eating them with your mouth open shortly. It’s these people that contribute to my determination to avoid horror films at Vue. Mainly as there’s a glut of crappy horrors these days (topic for another time), but also because during a moment of silence that attempts to build dread you can guarantee that the hungry pig in front will kill any promising atmosphere.
2. Obnoxious Talkers
Away with the gluttons, but a no less enticing prospect. Worse so, in fact, and the thing that aggravates me the most at the cinema: talking. These parasites always make an appearance with their cohorts to spoil your cinema experience. There are tonnes of seats to choose from, but if your luck is out, you’ll pick the wrong seat. In the past I’ve moved seats, but its not always an option if the audience is reasonably spaced out. Combine that with my social anxiety and sometimes its just awkward to make that last second dash to a spare seat when the cinema goes dark. So you wait, and hope, that once the film begins all chatter ceases. Wrong!
Why people feel the need to communicate during a film is beyond me. You payed to see the film, so watch it, in silence. Particularly when its more than just a quick comment making their noise even more pronounced. Worse, they don’t whisper! Totally lacking any semblance of common decency. Sure, you can ask them politely or rudely to shut up, but chances are they’ll ignore or continue.
Why don’t you just ignore them you might ask. Well, while some can block out sounds and focus, I’m the type of person who can’t withstand any abnormal interference. I need quiet. And the obnoxious talkers deserve to be dealt with… permanently. No half measures.
3. The Impatient and the Crying
Young children and babies. A crying baby can be extremely disruptive and off-putting but you can’t fault those little innocent Rugrats. No, it’s the parents. Simply put, if you have a baby, do not go to the cinema. If you can’t find a babysitter, wait for the DVD release of the film. It really is that easy. Problem solved. You’re welcome.
Young children can similarly be a nuisance. They also might fall foul to any one of the previously covered categories. (God forbid). But generally speaking, a well-mannered young child can still present a cinema hazard for everyone else. You can see their attentions wane as a long film plays out; they fidget, stretch and fail to sit still. All right in front of you. They even have the balls to look round at you, just to ensure their actions are being witnessed. ‘I’m bored so I’m going to be inconsiderate to my fellow cinema attendees.’ Okay so I doubt they’re quite that evil, but the issue remains, and parents are so swept up in the spectacle they fail to see the hindrance their child has become. But I see. I don’t miss a thing. I home in on every disturbance, regrettably.
4. The Giants
You get in the cinema early in your pre-booked seat, watch everyone that enters, praying they don’t sit in front of you as well as hoping above anything they aren’t any or all of the above! The trailers start, you’re safe, view unimpaired. Then a late arrival strolls in (probably equipped with goddamn nachos). They slowly ascend the stairs, trying to match their seat number with their ticket. They pause. They look. You initiate a stare down. But they enter the row in front, and it turns out the bastard is a giant. Oh the pain. Just when you thought you were free, a descendant of André sits in front of you and blocks half the screen. A tip to all you tall people out there: sit at the back.
5. The Adverts
Lastly, a minor complaint. If you succeed in avoiding any of the above people, this one is forgivable but still worth mentioning. Adverts are commonplace, but at the cinema you have to sit through an excess number of bad ones before even the trailers commence. (30 minutes in total before the actual film!). They wait until everyone is seated, then start the adverts. In an ideal world, the adverts should be playing WHILST people enter, then when it gets to the film start time indicated online and on your ticket, the trailers should begin. I accept the trailers, but not the adverts; they are wholly unnecessary.
And there we have it, the act of going to the cinema becomes an arduous quest rather than a pleasant excursion half the time. Yet we go, and hope, for a frustration-free experience of escapism shut off from the growing hostility of the outside world. I didn’t even mention the extortionate prices on the sweets! But honestly, if you buy a £4 bag of Maltesers, you’re a fool and deserve to be exploited.
Feel free to add to the list or debate the ones that made it. I’ll finish up here. The lights have dimmed. The film is about to begin, and I’m pleased to say I can breathe a sigh of relief at the peaceful quiet I’ve been afforded to. Maybe it’s not all as bad as I made it out to be.