Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Ultimate movie snobbery

One of my favorite things about Los Angeles has been the world of movies here. Every movie that gets made has at least a brief release in the City of Angels. Buffalo, Tucson, Syracuse and Albany couldn't say the same.

So since Thanksgiving I've seen The Squid and the Whale, which has actually been playing here for months and it was only L.A. that would forgive my tardiness in seeing this movie, Brokeback Mountain (which many cities in America will never see), Memoirs of a Geisha, universal release and Syriana, which has been playing here for a month already. This could be the best movie I've seen this year. If not, it's way up there.

But not only does every movie play here, but we have the Arclight. These are movie theaters for movie snobs, which is pretty much almost everyone who lives in Los Angeles (at least in the 310 and the 818). There are reserved seats, ushers (who remind not to talk and to shut off your cell phones in a rehearsed speech before the previews), theaters with drinking, actors and industry types everywhere, high backs, NO COMMERCIALS, stadium style seating, extra-wide arm rests (it's like flying first class). And of course the requisite price. Matinees for $11, primetime for $14.

Today Scott and I went to see Syriana at the Arclight. We get in and there are like 6 people in the theater, including a couple behind us. The female half is talking on her cell phone, kinda loudly but not annoyingly so. And since the movie doesn't start for like 20 minutes it's all good. Then a rather large man, who sorta resembles a very unhappy Santa Claus sits a few seats away from us in our row in front of the cellphone talker. Well, after about one minute of his sitting there he says quite loudly to no one in particular, but to one person only,

" ... lobby." The initial words were kind of unintelligble, but it was clear what he meant. He then moved his seat from the near-center of the row to a seat second from the end. Our talker noticed and then told the person she was talking to that she had to go, because someone was unhappy.

"It's not like I was going to keep talking when the movie started," she then remarked to the guy with her. I give her credit for taking the higher road in this case. Her comment was not loudly passive aggressive for the other guy to hear. That was all for that luckily. Although, I was actually a little disappointed. I kinda wanted to see a smackdown, at least verbal altercation.

The other funny thing that happened at the movie was when an older married couple entered the theater. The usher happily escorted them to their row, which happened to be ours as well, and pointed out that they had the two seats that happened to be next to mine. We were about six rows back in the upper section of the stadium set-up. Now at any other theater this might not be so good, but since we were at the ultimate snob theater, we were still golden. The front of the Arclight is 25 feet from the screen. However, this wasn't far enough for the man, so he told his wife they should move back a few rows (out of the tickets that they had purchased).

The Arclight ushers are typically pretty anal about enforcing the sit-in-the-seat-you-purchased rules, even in non-empty theaters, as this one was. So the usher notices and then he starts pointing (subtly) and chatting with one of his fellow ushers about this clear flouting of the rules. Then a third usher comes in and gets involved in the conversation. You can tell that these three are losing it, someone is disturbing the order of their well-manicured universe. It's like the guy who allows his hedge to grow unchecked in a planned subdivision. OK, that's officially the worst and unfunniest comparison I've ever included in a blog entry or anything that I've ever written.

Today's reading recommendation: the Los Angeles Times' story about the difficulties California National Guard troops are having returning from combat in Iraq. One of the "highlights" was this nugget of information:

In contrast, their counterparts in the full-time military return to relatively well-equipped and -staffed bases, where their post-combat problems can be more easily observed and treated.

At Ft. Irwin, an Army base northeast of Barstow, soldiers undergo two weeks of "reintegration training" that includes counseling for family reunification and even a defensive-driving course to get soldiers used to civilian highways again.

Ft. Irwin has on-post medical facilities, subsidized grocery stores, day care and counseling programs for the children of parents at war. The base has six chaplains, a staff psychologist and a social worker office for its 5,000 soldiers and families.

The state's 20,000 California National Guard troops and their 40,000 dependents have only two full-time chaplains, one psychologist and one social worker.

And b/c I've been less political of late, here's a bonus read written by a British reporter for the London Independent. He talks about the ways American reporters "sanitize" the news--refusing to show the blood and death of war, which is ironically the ultimate bloody and death-filled endeavor or humanity, and how they negatively portray Palestinians.

The New Year is almost upon us ... resolutions people?


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