Friday, 11 October 2013

11/10/13 - Baby Cinema

If you have a baby, you don’t ever go to the cinema. That’s just a fact. There are plenty of things that fellow cinema-goers can do to irritate you whilst watching a movie – rustle their bag of sweets, play with their phone, talk – but this all pales into insignificance against a fellow viewer who screams, crawls off at random and extravagantly shits themselves.

I used to love going to the movies. It’s one of those classic, old-timey pursuits that, even though it’s increasingly permeated by ultra-modern developments in terms of sound and vision, still retains that age-old purity of a bunch of people gathering together in a dark room to revel in the magic of celluloid. I’m a big fan of cinema.
I mean, I’m a big fan of films in general – who isn’t? – but it’s the theatricality of going to the movies that I particularly relish. Queuing up to pick up your ticket, choosing between popcorn or sweeties (and if popcorn – salt or sweet?), buying a Coke big enough to drown in, settling in to your favourite seat, waiting for the lights to dim, the curtains to open and the ads to begin. And then for the curtains to open a little further when the movie trailers start, with Pearl & Dean’s ‘BA-BA BA-BA BA-BA BA BA BA-BA-BA…’. Then that awkward moment of inky silence when the BBFC certificate screen shows for just a few heartbeats too long. The smell of musty popcorn, the shuffle of the odd late arrival, the all-in-it-together-ness of enjoying a fresh new flick. I love it all.

My wife and I used to have subscription passes to Cineworld back in the pre-baby days, and we would go four or five times a month. We saw everything that looked like it might be any good – and lots of things that didn’t - and for a couple of years we were real film buffs. In all that time, I think we only actually walked out of one movie (Easy Virtue, a godawful Brit rom-com [although, to be fair, I really wanted to walk out of Mamma Mia too, that irritated the hell out of me]). From around 2008-2010ish, we saw pretty much everything.

…but that doesn’t happen these days. You can’t take a baby to the cinema, and it seems like a crap reason to call a babysitter – it’s not like you’re going to a wedding or anything, paying someone to look after you nipper while you pop out to watch a big telly for a few hours just smacks of lazy parenting.
Also, going to the cinema is bloody expensive as it is – it worked out pretty cheap when we had our passes, but that’s not the case with buying tickets from the box office – and it gets even pricier when you factor in paying for a sitter. It’s just not worth it. You’d have to really want to see a film to pay forty or fifty quid for the privilege of watching it once.
There have been a lot of great films released this year that I was really, really excited about seeing, whose release dates have been and gone and I still haven’t seen – Rush and The World’s End to name but two. You know what I do these days? Pre-order them on DVD, and ignore anyone who talks about the film until it pops through my letterbox three or four months later.

So, ‘you can’t take a baby to the cinema’. I said that, just up there a few sentences back. But that’s not actually true. There is such a thing as ‘baby cinema’ – my wife went to it a couple of times when she was on maternity leave; indeed, my then-tiny daughter saw The Dark Knight Rises months and months before I did (when, er, I bought the DVD). It’s basically a thing some cinemas do whereby one morning a week is set aside for mums to come along with their kids and watch a film together while someone stands outside to make sure nobody nicks the pushchairs. Very little actual film-watching takes place - when we later watched that Batman film on DVD, my missus was surprised to learn that she remembered about three minutes of it - but the key point is that if everyone’s kid is shouting, you don’t feel self-conscious when yours does.
Perhaps that’s the future? Watching the new releases in a room full of caterwauling, adventuring, shitting small people? I guess at least you’ve got a good excuse if you feel like doing a little roaming pooping of your own…

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