Friday night and I’ve been blown out by my friend again! We were supposed to go and see the film ‘Moonlight’ at the cinema, but she’s “not feeling very well” and will spend the evening Lem Sippin’ under a duvet.
That’s all well and good, but what about me? I was working from home today and am sick of looking at 4 walls. The thought of sitting at home watching Soaps isn’t doing it for me, so I have no option but to take the bull by the horns and see the film myself. On my own. On a Friday night.
I am fairly confident it will be ok. Moonlight doesn’t seem to be the kind of film that screeching hordes of schoolgirls would bother to see on a Friday night; much less their ridiculously coiffed little boyfriends. I’m relieved that there is almost zero chance of my viewing pleasure being ruined by their mobile phones constantly lighting up like fire-flies in my peripheral vision. No irritating giggling in embarrassingly obvious attempts to attract some spottyfaced geezer wannabe. No feet pressing against the chair into the small of your back and no stage whispers, so loud you can hear every bitchy put down.
I arrive at the cinema 10 minutes early. The lights are already dipped as I scuttle into the screen 4 (head down and invisible), to a seat with no bodies in front of me. So far so good. Coat off, phone off, glasses on. We’re warned the film is about to start and the background chatter diminishes in readiness. I’m really looking forward to this. The curtains open….
A middle-aged man on my left, sitting with his unsmiling girlfriend, waits for the opening credits to start before wrestling open a noisy plastic bag of popcorn. I wonder with a sense of irritation why he didn’t buy a box instead. At least then, all I would have to tolerate would be his monotonous mastication – like a cow chewing it’s cud all night. But no, he has a loud, crackling bag and he punches his fist into it every 5 seconds, filtering the popcorn noisily before pulling out a handful and stuffing them messily into his gaping mouth!
This goes on for an interminable length of time. He doesn’t just pick the popcorn from the top of the pile. He literally pulls it out after digging his right hand deep into the contents and swirling it around; his left hand is grappling the bag as though it’s a slippery fish trying to leap to freedom. He seems totally oblivious to the cacophony he is making.
I stare deliberately and for far longer than is necessary in his direction and hope he is feeling the stinging barbs of my contempt. Not only do I have the rustling bag to contend with, but this man is chewing on the pop corn with the intensity of a machine gun. He smacks his lips with his mouth wide open, so you can hear crunches becoming sloppy mush. He attacks every unpopped kernel with added gusto.
I can’t concentrate on what’s happening on the screen. Moonlight is a slow-moving, intense movie with no loud background music and a lot of dialogue. It is a ‘feeling’ film with insinuation and suggestion. It’s one of those films you need to immerse yourself in, to get the most from it. This continual crunching, smacking and rustling is unbelievably distracting. I stare at him again. Can’t he feel the intensity of my Death Stare? Can’t he sense my laser sharp eyes boring into his popcorn covered face? Can’t anyone else hear him? Why am I the only one that seems to be noticing it?
I start feeling paranoid – I don’t understand. The noise he is making just seems to be getting louder and yet nobody even flinches. Now he and his girlfriend are talking – and not even stage whispers. Full on talking!!
She gets up and walks in my direction, straight past (no excuse me) and out of the room. Hmmmm. Good – at least there’s no more talking, but the crunch-rustle continues. How much longer can he make that bloody bag of popcorn last? He’s been shovelling it in fistfuls; I hope I don’t have to suffer this all evening.
5 minutes later the unsmiling girlfriend returns with a tray of tortilla chips large enough to feed the 5000. My heart sinks.
He hasn’t even finished the popcorn and now she starts on the tortillas. It’s Dolby surround sound. As his jaws go up, hers crunch down. It’s a pnematic drill of eating noise…louder and louder, punctuated by crunching bags and loud talking. I think I’m either going to scream, or seriously bitch slap Mr. Munch. Twice.
Instead I pick up my coat, move 5 rows down and breathe a sigh of relief. I hear him crunching still, but the noise doesn’t overwhelm me and I can start to concentrate on the film at last.
I’m only sat in my new location for a few minutes before someone pulls the seat down directly behind me. (Please just watch the film, please). I don’t even need turn my head to know they’ve pulled out a pot of yoghurt(!) and after a short time are investigating every crease and corner with their spoon, eking out every last dreg. The spoon taps and scrapes against the plastic over and over. I can hear my heart racing. Hysteria is beckoning.
Suddenly all background noise stops. I wait uneasily for a resumption of activities but now, after 2/3 of the film has finished, there is a blissful peace. I finally get to settle into the film, undistracted. I’m just beginning to get to grips with it when the film ends abruptly. It’s only been running for 1 1/2 hours. I remain seated, confused and utterly furious.
On my way out, I glare at the popcorn guy and his unsmiling other half with undisguised fury, but they don’t see. As the room empties, they’re still entrenched in their seats, staring at the credits and munching on tortilla chips.