Your correspondent made the grave error last night of leaving the sane madness of 4101 and heading into the suburbs to see the new movie Gravity.
I will not mention the movie for the moment, other than to say “I loved it”, because Gina Baker’s review will appear here after she dishes it out in her dulcet tones to the listeners of 4BC on Monday morning.
No, this piece deals instead with the unbelievable horrors inflicted on me by the well-meaning but totally-misguided management of the Cinebar at Rosalie.
Now it is only fair to frame these remarks with the observation that I go to the movies to engage in narrative escape therapy.
- If I want to view a film-maker’s output and nothing more, I head over to PirateBay or my favourite legal download site, thank you Mr Plod, download and view.
- If I want to show someone else, I whip up a hoummos, pick whatever is fresh from the garden, invite them over and connect the household media server to the downloaded item.
- I head to the movies when I am sick of my house, my own company, social interactions and the everyday.
My absolutely favourite form of narrative escape therapy is a brilliant performance with live people on stage of some form, but that is not always affordable or available.
My love of the movies is on the record, see my ode to iMax from July. A good 3D action film there offers an immersive experience equivalent to bungee jumping out of a plane into a waterfall.
So, with my colours nailed firmly to the mast and a clear conscience, I can now tell you what unfolded at the Rosalie Cinebar when I went out of West End last night.
- A queue – nothing unusual there, though the impatient people behind me who thought it unfair that they should have to queue when their movie started in five minutes should have warned me in large flashing letters PRIVELEDGE, PRIVELEDGE, PRIVILEDGE.
- A $21.50 ticket price. Paying $8.50 for a 2D movie in Cinema 5 ($10.50 for 3D) might have spoiled me but the only thing that prepared me for a price north of $20 was the fact that everyone in the foyer had a glass of wine and an ancestral memory of Bubbles at BIFF lulled me into thinking that there might be a drink inlcuded in the ticket price.
- A half hour wait on choc-tops. “Give me your seat number and I’ll bring them into you, I’ll just have to get them ready.” And yes, Thomasina, I did check with them that they had heard me correctly and that we were talking about the humble choc top. “They’re out the back, I just have to check that they are ready.”
Now, I’m not the sort to taste the wine and send it back, I don’t argue with chefs: I took these first three signs that Dorothy and I had left Kansas in my stride. Vive la difference, this is all part of the adventure of going outside one’s own postcode and visiting foreign parts.
An expensive cinema with handcrafted choc tops and snooty customers? Hey that’s what some people call living.
I sat in the foyer as Dorothy enjoyed her dry-cider and watched the XRay women and fat-rich-white-dudes soak up the pretension of atmosphere.
As we wandered into Cinema 4, I began to understand the deal. The seats were in pairs, with a little table between them, spaced out at intervals that would make a five star European restaurant green with envy.
The lighting was lush and low, and every table was lit with a downlight that highlighted the drinks and canapés of those who had been served already. The Cinebar is a cinema restaurant. Well more accurately, a cinema-bar.
My pretension gland finally kicked in, shaking loose the shoulders, pulling the cheek muscles into a smile. Hell, I had paid more than twenty bucks to see a movie, now I was going to live a little. Look at me, I’m as pretentious as you are.
And then the movie started but the choc tops had not arrived. This was a little disconcerting. I don’t mind seeing a movie without a choc top, but if I am going to eat in the movie, I like to be prepared before the movie starts. I want to be able to focus on the fillum and I do not want to rustle papers or packets and interrupt the other fillum goers around me. A little bead of anxiety settled into the pit of my tummy, corrupting the purity of the Narrative-escape-therapy.
And then the waiters started creeping in and out, putting things on people’s tables, taking away dead sailors and new orders. That, I found totally disconcerting.
As you know, this is my escape.
- I want to leave the world, this world, and I want to enter the world that the film maker has created. Completely.
- I want to immerse myself in surround sound, a crystal clear screen that completely fills my vision.
- I do not want people creeping around me, hovering over me, asking me if there is anything they can do for me. I can get that at a restaurant, strip club, corporate box at the football or some of my more elegant friend’s houses.
So when a cheese platter with olives, crusks, dip and big flat biscuits arrived, I waited a moment, conferred with Dorothy as quietly as possible and agreed that this could explain the reason that the ”chock tops” had to be prepared before they could be brought to us.
“Give it a few moments, then tuck in.”
About seven minutes later, I began munching happily on haloumi, sucking the oil off the olives and crunching on the crackers. Yum. The pretension gland had almost overruled the anxiety and narrative escape therapy interruption annoyance.
And then a different wait person arrived and said that there was a half hour wait on the choc tops and did I want to wait or order something else.
What I wanted, actually, was to watch the movie. That was, after all, the purpose of driving across the river through some inner northern suburbs and looking for a parking spot after all. Since the movie had already started and was incredibly gripping and intense, I did not bother to say all this I just waved the wait person away and got back to the business of escaping.
And then the first wait person arrived again with another plate of food including a bowl of chips.
“Mate, there’s a mistake,” I said. “I didn’t order all this.”
“You didn’t order this food?”
“No I ordered a couple of choc tops.”
“Yes. Ice creams.”
“What about this?” – wait person indicates half eaten plate of food and waves insistently.
“Mate, just leave me alone. I want to watch the movie. We can sort this out later.”
Of course, at home, if you are interrupted you can press pause and then rewind and get yourself back to the point where it all went pear-shaped. But at the movies you trade this flexibility for the total immersive experience where you are in the moment and can experience everything the characters in the movie experience at the same pace they experience, well … that the movie maker wants you to experience it.
From that point of view the CineBar offers the worst of both worlds. My movie has been interrupted, irrevocably, I have blown my money on an expensive movie ticket and on some hand crafted choc tops which have somehow morphed into a cheese platter. Into the bargain I have had an argument with a waiter that I did not ask for and am decidedly unsettled and distinctly anchored to this world not the one the film maker has offered to take me to.
Well after what turned out to be, thankfully, a great movie, I felt much better and headed back to the candy bar to get the missing choc tops. The young serving person was surprised I had not been given my money back and offered it to me on the spot. I took discretion as the better part of valour and the eight dollars fifty cash, found Dorothy and left.
And so, dear reader, your correspondent humbly suggests that you consider the so-called advantages of the combined cinema restaurant in detail before you head for distant climes to see a moving picture in such surroundings.
Do not let my personal feelings influence you. Indeed, I have been most diligent in ensuring that you are fully informed of my personal foibles, preferences and prejudices. I relate this tale in such detail to simply ensure that you have all the facts at your fingertips when you next make your viewing decision.
I thank you for your attention and if you get to taste the choc-tops, please tell me what they’re like. I’m now intrigued.