No matter where I go, no matter what I do, no matter what cooking oil I get used to, I am, and always will be a 90’s kid. My small world was Michael Jackson, Nintendo video games, and Back To The Future. Even crap like Titanic and postage stamps. Damn! the 90’s was so diverse!
I cannot explain in words my excitement at finding out that form now on, I would be getting paid to watch movies and review cinemas (dream didn’t last long). But nonetheless, it was a glorious few weeks. I saw everything. I mean everything. From tiny, luxurious, 40-seater, rich-people-type cinemas to gigantic, ‘where the fuck is the exit?’-type 600-seaters. I had specific reasons to go visit so many cinemas but that’s all technical stuff. What interested me was the type of people who came to the theatre. Here are the types:
- Average movie goer with popcorn and drink in hand. Sole purpose of being there: Enjoy the ‘experience’ as opposed to only the movie. This includes the mall, the air-conditioning, the seats, the sound, the movie. That’s about it.
- Perfectionist: Probably has the priciest food in hand. Takes into consideration: Ride to the theatre, reception, easiness to get into the theatre, 3D glasses with sharp edges is a big no no, air-conditioning, quality of projection, door guy’s relationship with his mother, immersiveness of the audio, positioning of the seats (will fight for hand-rest area. looks at you like ‘I own this place’), will carefully ration the drink so that it only finishes at the end of the movie(will make all kinds of annoying straw-related-noises), will give a standing ovation if and only if the movie deserves it, will ask people to shut up without any hesitation, you get the idea.
- I’m here with my girlfriend, I am so happy type person: The most annoying kind. Won’t shut the fuck up, wont stop lighting up the whole theatre with their damn phones, within two hours, would have managed to go outside and come back in 10 times. I don’t know how that’s possible but dudes do it.
- The movie enthusiast: Will shut the fuck up, will thoroughly enjoy the movie, slightest distractions(like the type 3 douche above) will throw them off track, will not buy any food from the theatre, will clap the fuck out if the movie is good enough, will tear up, I repeat, will tear up, usually turns up late.
- Trouble maker: on the lookout for trouble, will spill drinks and food, will try his best shot at your girl, will lean back as much as his spine goes, will put feet up, will offer support to type 2 people in shutting down talkative folks, will take a few moments to give way to others to pass through, will let out loud sighs, sounds of anger disgust and laughter, usually turns up drunk. Funny thing is, dude will tear up during the sad scenes but will hide it and yell out curse words.
- Happy, single old folk: will offer help to anyone in need, will kindly ask you to look after their belongings while they use the restroom, will thoroughly enjoy the movie, will make a phone call as soon as the movie ends. The call may be to the uber driver, maybe a grandchild, maybe a dead husband.
- Lovers: Sole purpose: make out, very quiet, in and out like mice. Type 5 usually has an eye on this couple.
- The eaters: Its like they rented out a space just to eat. And wow! do they eat like kings! I’m talkin large popcorn, giant Pepsi, nachos, depression, and spring rolls.
I’ve never made friends at a movie theatre. People in the audience always seem like like-minded people but you know…they could be on drugs(kids, this is what happens when your mind is messed up). So I’ve never interacted with them. I wanted to change that today. So I went to watch Black Panther with three main objectives in mind.
- Enjoy the hell outta of the movie
- Join a movie-gang
- Don’t get killed
Pretty easy right? Well, as soon as the movie started, my head decided to fix itself, looking only in the direction of the screen and my mind decided to leave my brain and immerse itself in Wakanda. From time to time I could hear conflicts in my head:
Voice of reason: You are literally surrounded by people like you. It is the best chance to make friends.
Me: I am here to see the King of Wakanda. Shut the fuck up.
I am a weirdo. I like the strangest things about movies. For example, my favourite scenes from the movie were(spoilers ahead. You deserve it if you still haven’t watched the movie):
- The very beginning of the movie explaining the story of Wakanda – Interestingly, the voice of the villain is the focus during the introduction. Large amounts of information explained visually in a short amount of time. I’m a big fan of that!
- Kid(villain) playing basketball sees the Wakandan aircraft leave – There are several reasons why I like this scene. First of all, it is the ambiguity of the situation. The kid gets a glimpse of the mysterious unknown. The scene is so beautifully crafted that it creates an impact in your mind.
- King’s aircraft fly over the grasslands(Wakanda reveal) – I have two words to express my feelings during this sequence- Holy shit. That’s what I call an ‘immersive’ experience. This is my kind of movie making.
- The music. This is what I liked about the movie the most. There is no music but there definitely is! Let me explain. During scenes like the one I mentioned above there are mainly just sounds. No music. Just sounds of a few instruments and it is amazing. Normally one would expect super-orchestral, heart thumping music during such sequences but the movie maker chose to make it different and wow! did he succeed! I felt the same vibe in Blade Runner 2049.
Warning: This post will derail into several unrelated topics. Let the adventure begin!
Date: November 12th 2017
Time: 10:30 pm
Movie: Thor Ragnarok a.k.a. Rainbows
Audio configuration: Dolby Atmos
Depression level: mild
Popcorn: chilly cheese
Verdict: Meh. Auro 3D wins.
It was nice to see a good mix of loners and couples in the audience. Despite being a loner myself I was slightly uncomfortable with the close proximity that some of the other loners maintained with me. So I gently got up, went to the restroom, came back and sat in a completely different seat(like a man). It was interesting to see that all the loners had also left the hall, possibly to use the restroom. What was even more interesting to see was upon returning they looked around for me and sat right next to me again. I felt like a shepherd who came to watch Thor with a flock of sheep. I wasn’t threatened however. Most of them were nerds like me. Its easy to spot nerds and weirdos. Nerds keep checking their “notification-free” blank phone screens while weirdos secretly stare at people. I guess that makes me a weirdo too. Learning everyday! Back to the topic. I did not feel very enveloped in sound which is the whole point of ATMOS. The quality of audio I experienced does not justify the extensive use of expensive, high quality speakers. Maybe the audio was “too real”. I don’t know. I am aware that the audio in Thor is not great but I feel the whole ATMOS thing was overhyped. I guess movies need to be mixed properly to take full advantage of ATMOS system. I am obsessed with surround sound. It might be because I am a homebody. However I think it plays an important part in todays cinema.
My theory on why surround sound is important:
Movies are getting realer. That’s not a real word but its true. We like it when there are “real” emotions, real weather and obviously, real sound. And for sound to be real, it has to come from all directions. It has to envelope the listener and take them on a journey away from reality. Wait… that contradicts what I just said but you get the point. This might come as a surprise to many movie enthusiasts but natural sound is surround sound at its best. Yes, I am talking about the sounds that you hear everyday. Take a moment and think about the sounds you hear everyday. Replay them in your head. I’ll help with a few examples from my exciting life:
- The sound of the alarm that reminds you everyday that there’s no escape. Even with your eyes closed you are able to make out in which direction the sound from hell is coming from. All it takes is a little fumbling around with the hands on the table, making way through all the antidepressants, bills and maybe a drop of the cellphone until you finally feel the familiar snooze button.
- Annoying roommates ,their radio and their general happy mood. For some reason, your roommate thinks the only way to spread joy is to make sure that her favourite DJ’s voice reaches aliens clearly.
- Neighbourhood dogs
- Thunder- You might have noticed that these types of sounds create uneasiness in the mind. Other examples include tremors, storms, etc. Studies have revealed that we are pre-programmed to dislike or fear these type of sounds as they signal danger. Just another gift of evolution.
- Drunk people in the night
- Lovers whispering
- Occasional hip hop fan driving by with the windows wide open, spreading happiness in his own way
What all of these sounds have in common is that you can localize the source without having to actually see them. We need the same effect in movies. This is what Dolby, DTS, Auro 3D,etc. have been trying to replicate for years. Stay tuned for my next post- “Stereo, I don’t hate you”
1. It is completely different from watching a movie at home. The whole ‘experience’ is different. I like the excitement in going to watch a movie!
1. It helps me relax and clears my mind
I have a weird obsession with imdb ratings. If they say it’s good, its good! Yes, I look at the ratings before I go watch the movie but it doesn’t stop me from watching it unless the rating is below 6. They have pretty good movie suggestions on their website. I just wish they suggested more number of movies.
Cinemas have been changing over the years. I think audio and video technologies have been improving steadily( several audio companies claim that the audio was shit before they brought out their ‘new’ system!). The sad part is that I miss the old cinema. The ones where the projector sometimes messed up the playback, dots appeared on the screen now and then!, the sound echoed!. It just isn’t the same with 4K, Laser projection, HFR3D, ATMOS, AURO, etc. However, I 100% appreciate the new technologies. Immersive sound is to die for! I kinda feel weird though when the audio surrounds you while the video does not!