Blinded by the (cell phone) light
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The private screening, generally a matinee performance that plays to an audience of one, is becoming an all-too-common occurrence. At a time when patrons can’t log off long enough to survive a feature without developing a case of D.T.s, sitting in solitude can be a godsend. But it’s a mixed blessing when one considers the negative impact it has on the business of moviegoing.


Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets *

I see no difference between Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets and any of the numerous continuing sci-fi fantasy adventures that litter multiplex screens. That goes double for…I was going to say the Star Wars franchise since Disney took over, but it’s impossible to comment on what I haven’t seen. After all, isn’t it just a case of same crap, different tuchas? Luc Besson has always struck me as an artist who makes a better producer than director. With that in mind, one could bet the farm on the 3D effects being an eyeball-immersing experience.

If a film is released in 3D, that’s the way I want to see it. The depth-fanatic in me generally waits for the last stereoscopic showing during a film’s run, in the case of Valerian, a 4:15 p.m. showing at Grossmont. If you survive the ten minutes worth of trailers without another customer in sight, there’s a greater chance that a private screening awaits.

Mr. and Mrs. Mosquito buzzed into auditorium #4 — her plastic Target bags crinkling in the dark — approximately ten minutes after the feature hit the screen. Instead of waiting the 20 seconds for their eyes to adjust to the dark, she whipped out her cell phone/usher’s flashlight. When actual ushers walked the earth, they were trained to keep their torches pointed downward at all times. My polaroid lenses were no match for her glaring BlackBerry, the beam of which spread across the front of the auditorium like a lighthouse keeper scanning the main floor for a missing ship.

“Where shall we sit?” she asked no one in particular. Let’s see…a quick eyeballing indicated only one of the approximately two hundred seats were spoken for. Just to be sure, she turned and pointed her smartphone boothward.

“Oh,” she guffawed, as an embarrassed grin overtook her face. “There’s someone else here.”

“That’s right, Human Torch,” I replied while flipping up my 3D specs as if waiting to catch a pop-fly. “Dim the lights, would ya?”

“I’m sorry,” she said. Turning to her companion, she began what appeared to be a tale of woe. “We were late because... “

My voice cut through the darkness like a scythe. “Lady, I’m here to see a movie. I assume you are, too. Let’s watch in silence, shall we?”

The popcorn was fresh, the air conditioning set at arctic blast, and other than a couple of chuckles, that was the last I saw or heard of them during the movie. Nothing happened, but it could have.

Stay tuned, kids, for another true-life multiplex adventure story ripped from the front lines of cinema!

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Javajoe25 Aug. 3, 2017 @ 7:21 p.m.

Bravo to you, Scott, for not beating these dimwits to death. I cannot understand what it is with the younger folks. They seem to be too dense or too stupid to realize how rude and offensive they are. Even with the big pre-show production about not "ruining the movie by using your cellphone," they still just have to boot up. I'm thinking of a taser. That might get their attention.


Scott Marks Aug. 3, 2017 @ 7:49 p.m.

Those on-screen hints before the show are just there to anger people like us. Who in their right mind doesn't know that turning on a cell phone in the middle of the movie is a distraction to those around them? They don't care.


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