Talking pictures, not a talking audience.
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What’s the textbook definition of stupid? Anyone — “critic” or pass-whore — who sits in the same row as I and proceeds to text during a movie.

Believe it or don’t, that's exactly what one of my "colleagues" did last week. I’ll be kind and not use her real name. Since she’s such a monumental loser, let’s call her Hillary.

Before the opening credits had ended, Hillary’s husband, let’s call him Bill, checked his phone and was out the door, never to return. Not being at liberty to reveal the picture’s name, embargo, you know, I can’t say that I blame him. After about ten minutes, I noticed a commotion out of the corner of my right eye, but thought nothing of it. That was the first infraction.

It took some time before it dawned on me that Hillary had her phone tucked in her purse with the screen dimmed. It wasn’t low enough to be unnoticeable. Short of catching her texting in a pair of O.J. Isotoners, I had her dead to rights. After 45 minutes of constant clicking, it was time to speak up.

“Will you please stop texting!” came my angry demand. Gripping the phone in her right hand and with index finger on the left poised in midsweep, the dumb bunny actually had the audacity to look me in the eye and say, “I’m not texting.”

You may think me dumb, just don’t talk me dumb. At that point I took the lord’s name in vain, shouting back, “JESUS EFFING CHRIST! ARE YOU KIDDING ME?”

The phone made an instant return to her purse, never to be seen again.

It turns out Hillary was looking for her absentee husband. (She should have called Monica.) Next time — and there had better not be a next time — show a little common courtesy by sitting in the back row where no one will notice.

This wasn’t the first time Hillary transformed my time in the dark into 90 minutes of hell. She was joined by Bill and daughter Chelsea for the screening of Sully. Parked behind me, one of them proceeded to kick the back of my chair throughout the entire movie.

The number of civilians who tell me they refuse to go to the movies due to the inconsiderateness of others is staggering. Checking one’s phone has become such a habit that half the time people don’t even know how rude they are. At last week’s public screening of Almost Christmas the schmuck three rows in front of me — probably thinking it was President-Elect Trump calling to seek his advice — whipped out his phone halfway through the picture.

“Hey mister,” I yelled. “Your phone is on.”

He actually turned and waved me a “Thank you!” as if it hadn’t dawned on him that his assholism was ruining the film for those around him.

A call was placed to a bigwig friend with one of the local theater chains suggesting what a hero they’d be in the eyes of movie-lovers if they banned cell phones altogether.

She’s still laughing.

Hopefully local publicists won’t find the request so funny. Reviewing movies is a critic’s job, a movie theater their office. Most bosses frown upon employees who make private calls during work hours. Should it be any different for a film critic? Bag ’em and tag ’em. Better still, leave the phone in the car!

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Javajoe25 Nov. 17, 2016 @ 8:45 p.m.

Scott, you are so right on with this one. I've seriously thought about giving up the big screen because there are too many stupid, inconsiderate people going to the movies these days. I had one twenty-something mouth breather two seats over from me boot up her cell in the middle of a movie and I asked her, "Do you have to do that now?" She just looked at me and said, 'Yes." No friggin clue about how rude she was being. I know the law frowns on grown men punching young women in the face so hard the blow would probably break their neck, but I sure would have liked to exercise the option. It's unreal how inconsiderate people are in the theaters with their cell phones these days. Forget about going during prime time on a weekend. If one boots up, they all boot up and it looks like a damn Christmas tree in there. I've resorted to going to early shows in hopes that the lamebrains won't be there and it usually works but seriously, who wants to watch a movie-- even a good one-- at 10;45 in the morning? I wish the theaters were able to block the signal or something. It is very discouraging. I can appreciate having the knowledge of the world at your fingertips but not if it creates an addiction that surpasses all other considerations. This is a very bad trend.

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Scott Marks Nov. 17, 2016 @ 9:49 p.m.

In the old days I would have to leave my seat in mid-show to complain about focus. Today we're essentially watching big TV, therefore the focus and framing issues have subsided. Now it's freaking cellphones.

How many times have you told someone to turn off their phone and they look at you like your crazy? There is no way in hell I'm getting out of my seat to flag down an usher to tell someone to turn their phone off. Can you imagine what would happen if just one chain made a couple of their auditoriums Cellphone Free Zones? They'd become houses of worship. They have designated crybaby matinees for mothers, why not CFZs? Forget about recliners and stocked bars to lure patrons out of their homes. Promise me silence and no blue lights and I'll be your best customer.

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monaghan Nov. 17, 2016 @ 11:12 p.m.

The Cellphone Free Zone crusade will end like the No More Fall Back and Spring Forward Time Change crusade: in the dumpster. These devices are not even banned in public school classrooms: you really think the (tanking) movie theater business is going to take a hard line?

Last week at the UTC Arclight, an employee came in before the movie "Moonlight" started, to show the audience of 10 people where the emergency exit was and to ask that cell phones be turned off. Not a problem with that crowd.

At the end, a young woman in my row asked me what I thought. I said I liked the movie very much. She said, "I just had to talk to someone: this is the first movie I've ever been to by myself. My husband is away in Switzerland." I smiled, "Good for you! Why should you miss out? I hope you'll do it again."

Worse than the cell phone issue is the slow progress of women in this regard. You should run a survey.

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Scott Marks Nov. 18, 2016 @ 7:23 a.m.

How is flying solo at the movies a women's issue? I know a lot of guys who won't go to the movies alone. I've tried to explain that one doesn't need a companion to sit in silence for two hours, but they refuse to listen.

The most shocking thing of all is that you actually found a parking space at Arclight. As for the movie, I find a cellphone in the dark infinitely more illuminating than "Moonlight."

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monaghan Nov. 18, 2016 @ 8:25 a.m.

I read your reviews, Scott, and I know you didn't like "Moonlight," which is probably why I went so late in its run. I thought it was a little confusing, but the kid's story was beautiful. How often do we see an original film made in Miami with an entirely black cast and no Brad Pitt-savior character?

As for your point about flying solo at the movies, who knew there are men embarrassed/shy/afraid to go alone? That's fascinating. Reasons should be explored, Dr. Freud. Maybe it's about needing human exchange after a film.

Finally, did I say I found a nearby parking space? No. Arclight expeditions involve cutting through Macy's and hiking in the newly remodeled precincts of UTC. After a while, one doesn't notice the time, the distance or even the $16+ admission ticket. (I even have succumbed to buying tickets online in advance to avoid frustrating long waits for too-few Arclight employees where on-site admission tickets are often sold at the concession stand!)

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Scott Marks Nov. 18, 2016 @ 9:05 a.m.

One of my oldest and dearest friends hates going to the movies alone. I should probably make this a blog entry, but I love you so much, Mon, here's a little extra entertainment.

We'll call my friend of 50 years, Jeffy. Jeffy's a big boy, a good-eater as we say in the Midwest, who was always conscience of his physical appearance. When we were kids, he would never get up in the middle of a movie to hit the concession stand. He was too embarrassed.

About 20 minutes into the picture, I'd feel an elbow poking at my arm. "Hey," he'd whisper. "You want a Scooper Malt? Buy me one and I'll cover yours." He actually thought he was so obese, that people would take their eyes off a 70-foot screen and laugh at the guy waddling up the aisle. To this day I tease him about his "you fly, I'll buy" technique.

BTW, I was 10-15 when this happened. Actions like this would never fly today.

Only on rare occasions has Jeffy gone to a movie alone. I mean, it's not like children point and laugh when they see him coming down the street. In his mind, the second someone observes no one seated to his right or left is cause for mean-spirited laughter.

For the record, the fathead steadfastly refuses to watch anything that’s subtitled or shot in black-and-white. Cue the mean-spirited laughter.

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Ponzi Nov. 18, 2016 @ 9:51 a.m.

This is the solution to annoying people on smartphones in venues such as theaters. It's a phone jammer. I bought one from a company in Israel. Works great with a 60 ft. radius. Once the first five to ten minutes of head scratching and turning devices on and off is over with, there is a peace and quiet not known since the 80's. Don't get caught snickering though or you'll find yourself at the center of an angry millennial mob.

None

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Scott Marks Nov. 18, 2016 @ 10:09 a.m.

You mean if I buy one and covertly smuggle it into a theatre, it will jam the phones of all around me? Where does one purchase a device such as this?

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monaghan Nov. 18, 2016 @ 4:53 p.m.

You gotta love the Israelis -- and Ponzi! Hilarious.

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Ponzi Nov. 18, 2016 @ 6:33 p.m.

Before I say more, it is illegal to use them in the U.S. The FCC claims public safety as the reason. But they are used in prisons and other government facilities. Unless you get fingered by an angry mob of text-deprived millennials, you have little to worry about. The FCC would usually investigate fixed signal jamming installations, especially if they jam a nearby tower (and not just nearby phones).

That said, I first began using one years ago when I commuted daily on the Pacific Surfliner. I got tired of listeing to annoying loud conversations. So I packed the signal jammer in my lap top case. Eventually people would leave my car. And eventually, I was fingered for having a jammer even though they never saw it and could not prove it. With the regular passengers I was the common denominator with the dead signal zone. So i began wearing noise cancelling headphones instead.

The device is slightly larger and thicker than a pack of cigarettes. You can put it inside the pocket of a jacket. It's silent and can operate on a charge for about 2 hours. You can find them on websites such as jammer-store.com

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Javajoe25 Nov. 18, 2016 @ 7:39 p.m.

Scott, Try Jammer-store.com, but the golden silence is a tad pricey: $640.00. Maybe Ponzi knows of a better deal?

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Scott Marks Nov. 19, 2016 @ 6:34 a.m.

Thanks, gents, but I had to buy tube socks at Costco this week and $640 is out of my price range. Particularly when a baseball bat will do the trick at 1/10th of the price.

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Scott Marks Nov. 19, 2016 @ 8:04 a.m.

I've been batting this around over morning coffee. Wouldn't it cause as much a commotion when patrons discover their phones don't work? Infractor #1 elbows Infractor #2 and (hopefully) whispers, "Hey, Shemp. There's something wrong with my phone. Check yours."A search for the phone, more dialog, getting up in the middle of the picture...

A loud, "Hey! Your phone is on!" generally quells texters. What do you say to the jammed? "SHUT UP! SIT DOWN!" It would make a top notch Candid Camera gag, but is it more trouble than it's worth?

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Javajoe25 Nov. 19, 2016 @ 10:03 p.m.

I like your baseball bat idea, Scott. The problem however, would be getting one into the theater. I was thinking that maybe a paintball gun might be easier to conceal, but with my luck I'd get the sucker right in the eye and them not wearing goggles could be problematic. I want to bop them, not blind them. Then I considered a taser. The problem with that is you have to get close though and who wants to be climbing over seats, plus there would be the screaming. So now I'm leaning toward the good old fashioned pea shooter. Remember them? Nothing but a straw and some hard peas. Silent, but not deadly. And the best part is all you do is bring the peas; the theater supplies the straws! I just might give that a shot.

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Scott Marks Nov. 22, 2016 @ 10:12 a.m.

Peas are good!

Monaghan's right. No violence. Try this, providing the offenders can't take you in a street fight. Get up and sit in the seat directly in front of the monsters. Clasp you fingers together at the base of your neck and spread your elbows wide. When they ask you to lower your arms, turn, and in your best Sam Kinison, say, "I'll lower my arms WHEN YOU SHUT YOUR $#@^$ MOUTH AND STOP TEXTING. AHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!"

Works every time.

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monaghan Nov. 19, 2016 @ 11:11 p.m.

In this Age of Trump Triumphant and Anti-Trump Rage openly expressed even inside a Broadway theater, there is a fair amount of violent fantasy being expressed here. Easy does it, folks -- chill. As for the old friend who is amusingly described as "a good eater," I am reminded of my late mother-in-law (also from the midwest) who always referred to single men age 30-plus as "never-married" and all physicians she knew as "top doctors." RIP, Rosie.

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Scott Marks Nov. 22, 2016 @ 10:06 a.m.

Violent? More like cathartic. Hey! At least I didn't suggest bringing a flame-thrower to a kiddie matinee.

I think Rosie and Babe are kindred souls. ;)

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Dave Rice Nov. 21, 2016 @ 12:05 a.m.

$640? Bargain! I spent $1500 on a giant ugly pickup for the explicit purpose of being taller than the bozos with SUVs who leave their tailgates up and block my view at the Santucky drive-in...

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