Saturday, February 19, 2011

True Story...

Well, yesterday we decided to go to the movies. There are still a couple on our list, and we had heard good things about "The Fighter." We discovered that the most convenient location was up in Pasadena. But first...

We wanted to visit our friend Jayme Odgers who, as you'll remember, has been though a nasty health crisis, so we stopped by to see him at the hospital in East Los Angeles and were greatly relieved to find him in good spirits and looking a great deal better than we had feared. And with a hair-raising story of his own to tell. No details here. Enough to say that after a roller coaster months-long odyssey of misdiagnoses and agonizing worries, the doctors finally hit upon a cause for our friend's problems that turned out to be relatively easily addressed with medication. Once administered, the appropriate drug produced almost immediate results and accompanying relief. I'm sure you all have your own stories about the limits of medical knowledge, and the sometimes egregious blunders of its practitioners. This one was amazing--and would have been quite comical... had it not put our friends's life literally at risk.

With gladdened hearts, then, we headed out into the rain and up the old Pasadena Freeway from downtown, arriving in time for a cup of coffee before the movie. We were looking forward to sitting back and enjoying a couple of hours' entertainment...

So we show up at the theater. We are puzzled to find something rather different from the functional ticket sales office we remember from our last visit to this same place. Low lights, carpets, drapes, occasional furniture... A crowd of young people standing around and chatting, as though at a party. We worked our way through the crowd to a long, low, well-appointed desk with three or four young women in attendance. "Oh," we said, "we must have come to the wrong place. We were looking for the movie."

"No, no, this is the right place," said one of the young women. "Which movie did you want to see?"

I told her. "Two seniors, please." I had my twenty ready, anticipating six or eight in change.

"Oh, I'm sorry," she said. "We only have two prices. It's twenty dollars a person, twenty-nine at the weekend."

"What?" I was aghast.

"We're a dinner club theater," she explained patiently. (I may be wrong in remembering the exact name she gave it.) "You can sit comfortably and order your meal and a glass of wine, which will be brought to you any time you want them." She pointed to the menu lying open in from of her. Everything from shrimp cocktail to prime rib--at eye-popping prices.

"That's... in addition to the movie tickets?" Ellie asked, just to be sure.

"Oh, yes." The young woman looked at us as though it were we who were crazy.

We declined. Missed the movie. Went instead to the Italian restaurant next door.

Have you ever heard of such a thing? It gives new meaning to "dinner and a movie." And, for us at least, a not terribly attractive new meaning. I'm not keen on watching a movie while the waiters move in and out with trays of food and drinks and my fellow-movie goers clink their glasses. Was a time, in my own living memory--remember?--when every seat in movie theaters had an ashtray for the convenience of smokers. That was bad enough. But this is ridiculous. This was a whole new "what's the world coming to?" moment.

Or maybe you disagree?


mandt said...

Very much agree----impresses me as degenerate.

CHI SPHERE said...

It's the influence of sports and the mass mediated culture. Consume while being entertained. The multi media environment is suppressing the sublime experience of total cinematic immersion. I want to enter the film without interference.

By the way I'll mention it here:

Milarepa: Magician, Murderer, Saint By Bhutanese director Neten Chokling

This requires looking it up on Netflix but well worth the small effort.

robin andrea said...

I'm pretty sure I went to see a film in a theater like that close to 40 years ago in Monterey. It had comfortable couches and tables, but I don't remember it being particularly conducive to watching a movie.

TaraDharma said...

sounds loathsome to me -- people already are terribly disruptive at movie theaters with cell phones, loud popcorn munching, conversations during the film. I can hardly stand to go anymore, and when do I hit a matinee (fewer people) during the week.

The Fighter is an excellent movie, you should try another theater.