In the Audience

by Sue Trollip

PT* loves watching scary movies with me because, she claims, I twitch and squirm and provide an amusing side show should the main event become dull. (She has a rude streak but is also a Bruce Willis fan so I forgive her.)

Although I love DVDs, for me it’s all about the big screen. Movie houses are the perfect place to lose yourself. They transport you away from mundane routine or teeth-gnashing stress and allow you to climb into someone else’s skin, just for a while. The darkness and the strangers play a role in the scenario as do the movie mates you drag along. So while I provide amusement for PT . . .

Well, there’s MR* who falls asleep as soon as he’s swallowed the last wine gum. Sometimes his snores are quiet, sometimes not so much. He tried to deny falling asleep during the Ides of March but he’d missed a few pertinent facts and when I started to giggle he admitted, that once he’d fallen asleep when alone at the movies and the other patrons in his row had obviously climbed over him and he’d woken up alone in the theatre, long after the credits had rolled.

During Drive I was close to convulsing as the blood splattered and spurted and squelched onto walls and lifts and cars. I glanced over at CA* who was averting her eyes in a ladylike manner. Afterwards she wondered if we should ask for a partial refund as we’d only watched half the movie. I thought they’d refuse and besides we’d just spent 90 or so minutes with Ryan Gosling and that sort of made up for the gross misuse of tomato sauce or whatever Hollywood uses these days. (She couldn’t argue with my logic because Ryan Gosling has been nominated as Coolest Person of the Year by Time magazine’s Joel Stein.)

I’ve noticed over the years that movies are torturous for smokers. I wonder if smokers ever absorb the ending of movies or if they are too busy calming down their nicotine starved bodies. I know that DL* is out the door as soon as the last word’s been uttered and HL* has been known to leave even before that point.

While I do enjoy being transported somewhere else, there are movies like Perfume which I find too vivid. That night I could taste the market’s putrid fish stink, feel the damp entrails-bedecked street beneath my feet and then when the– I lasted 3 minutes, maybe 2 before leaning over and whispering to CA. ‘I’ll be in Exclusive Books.’ I left without a refund. (I still have the pretty pair of red shoes I bought en route to the book shop. They always cheer me up when I wear them.) CA thinks I’m odd.

Some movie mates are all about the experience like ES* who always like to sit close to the front. She introduced me to the taste bud tantalizing combo of popcorn (with salt and vinegar) and Smarties and she’s my only friend who likes Nouveau movies and Twilight.

My sister and I seldom go to movies together and on the last occasion we picked Mark Walberg (whew!) and Mila Kunis (we love That 70’s Show). But, about ten minutes into the movie, when we’d watched the umpteenth body being thrown out of a high-rise window, she leaned over and said: ‘There’s a really nice band playing at . . .’ and we were gone (both preferring music to flying bodies.)

There are always the friends who laugh at the wrong places, or who ask continuous questions. ‘I don’t know the answer either, lets watch and find out.’ (Unless it’s a Roman Polanski, then chances are it will end somewhere left of satisfying and neither of us will ever know.) My bête noir is the chatterer. ‘Shh, I’m trying to watch a movie!’ Sometimes you have to duck down so people won’t recognise you later. For example, once a friend shouted: ‘[insert rude word]!’ when a beautiful white bunny was hopping along a serene snowy landscape and ‘bang!’ a gunshot and a splodge of red against all that white which, sadly, agitated the audience more than the death of the bunny.

But whoever they are and whatever their idiosyncrasies, I love them all for coming to the movies with me because movies, with apologies to Orson Welles, are ribbons of dreams set in motion by magic.

*names have been changed to protect reputations.

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