Things That Could Drive Me To Homicide

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Everyone knows how obnoxious the mall's moviegoers can be, but what about those audiences that are supposed to be more refined? Writing in Slate, Bryan Curtis runs through the "peculiar horrors" of the art house, from the chatter of film buffs to the aroma produced by "contraband sashimi and Whole Foods takeout." Some of these terrors are probably unique to New York City, but others occur more broadly—even this one:

The Crinkler is a mythic art-house figure—perhaps you've heard of him. Or, rather, perhaps you've heard him. As the lights go down, he is the guy three rows back who crinkles plastic wrap, restlessly and maniacally, for the entire length of a picture….It is possible, I suppose, that there is more than one Crinkler carrying plastic wrap all over the city, but the taste in movies (he seems to prefer muscular American cinema of the late 1940s) leads me to believe there is a single Crinkler, an omnipresent evil genius.

If there is just one Crinkler, he gets around. He used to sit behind me all the time when I lived in Los Angeles. I finally escaped him by moving to Baltimore, where annoying art-housers restrict themselves to hmming knowingly every time a character says something they deem significant. Think of it as the oral equivalent of yellow highlighter.

[Via Lew Rockwell.]

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  1. I’ve long believed that there’s a fortune to be made in non-crinkling plastic candy wrappings.

  2. stop whining and rent a frigging DVD!

  3. The Crinklers are a secret society of little old ladies who love to suck on hard candies. The small candies have a disproportionately loud wrapper. These senior suckers are most obnoxious at live dramatic performances where they appear to be entirely oblivious of their crimes. Shushing them results in a dry cackle and even more furious sucking and crinkling. I have found that a well-aimed taser to the back of the neck brings encouraging results.

  4. “I’ve long believed that there’s a fortune to be made in non-crinkling plastic candy wrappings.”

    Ah, like the silent velcro in Garden State!

  5. In “The Blob” remake the obnoxious guy in the theatre is the first one to get munched.

  6. …..I really want to whine (one more time) about the inevitable gaggle of twenty-somethings that wander into the movies thinking it’s a bar…….

    But I’ve already used that bit before and I think my allotted number of reruns will be exceeded if I do.

    Funny stuff Jesse.

  7. In my neck of the woods, the Pacific Northwest, sashimi or Whole Foods takeout would be a welcome nasal reprieve from the usual bouquet of patchouli and body odor.

  8. TWC – hmm, I’ve never thought the theatre was a bar, but more of a BYOB establishment. At least when I was younger, I’d wear baggy pants (still do that) and stuff 4 beers in there to consume during the picture. I remember knocking over an empty one time and listening to it roll down the aisle.

    Good times, good times…

  9. “Ah, like the silent velcro in Garden State!”

    I haven’t seen Garden State, despite knowing that it has a good soundtrack, and a lot of people whose opinions on movies I respect have recommended it.

  10. I don’t think there’s an art house in LA County that I haven’t been to, and say what you like about the denizens of the People’s Republic of Santa Monica, but as art house audiences go, I think they’re tops.

    From the Laemmle’s down off the promenade to art houses goin’ down both sides of Santa Monica Blvd. (the ones right off the 405), these are some quiet audiences. …The audiences in Santa Monica tend to run rather young for art house though…

    Outside of Santa Monica, I think the average age of the art house audience in LA is well over sixty, and, as some of you will no doubt agree, old people in art houses can be as bad as teenagers at the Cineplex.

    …The good thing about the gray and disorderly is that, unlike teenagers, they usually respond well to my threats of violence.

  11. “I remember knocking over an empty one time and listening to it roll down the aisle.”

    Ha Ha. I’d forgotten about the time my friend did that in college watching the remake of Star Wars: ANH. It was real loud and seemed to take about 10 minutes to reach the bottom. We were drinking 40’s of Mickey’s, I think.

  12. “I haven’t seen Garden State,”

    You should, it’s a decent movie. Anyway, to the point, in the film there is a supporting character who made his fortune by inventing “silent velcro”.

  13. I haven’t seen Garden State, despite knowing that it has a good soundtrack, and a lot of people whose opinions on movies I respect have recommended it.

    In short, Garden State sucked.

    …Rent Junebug instead.

  14. The other day at Munich some jackass behind us had his phone go off during the opening scene. Now, I’d have been horrified if that were me, and the phone would have been immediately silenced. Him? He let it ring and ring and ring until it went to voicemail.

    And he apparently didn’t bother to turn it off either, because during what you might call the most dramatic scene in the film, it rings again. Ring, ring, ring. Again, no effort made to stop the ringing, and not smart enough to turn the thing off altogether.

    I wanted to murder him in a fit of cinema rage, but instead I made a mental note to buy stock in Netflix.

  15. Some years ago I went to see “Uzumaki,” a Japanese horror film based on a manga, at a hipster cinema on the lower East Side, and jackasses talked and laughed through the entire thing. It wasn’t much different than when I went to see the reissue of the “Exorcist” at a big multiplex, and was disappointed by all the jabbering and joking in the audience because I had never seen it before and was hoping to be scared.

  16. “I’ve long believed that there’s a fortune to be made in non-crinkling plastic candy wrappings.”

    “Ah, like the silent velcro in Garden State!”

    Or Nadine’s silent drape runners in Twin Peaks.

  17. Recently I saw Sarah Silverman’s “Jesus is Magic” at an indie theatre in Berkeley. It was a full house, and 90% of the audience was silent. I laughed my ass off. Curiously, no one walked out. A full theatre, sitting in silence, watching a stand-up concert film.

    Leaving the theatre, I walked past a older NPR couple. Wife, silver haired Joan Baez haircut, tourquoise ear rings: “Well, THAT was transgressive.”

    Ah, Berkeley.

  18. Some years ago I went to see “Uzumaki,” a Japanese horror film based on a manga, at a hipster cinema on the lower East Side, and jackasses talked and laughed through the entire thing.

    There was a couple in the showing of Serenity I went to who laughed during the death scenes. Fucking annoying. Further back, I remember the trio of young teenage girls who kept shrieking during Signs and eventually had to step out because one started hyperventilating (at the “basement grab” sequence).

    stop whining and rent a frigging DVD!

    Or, apparently, see movies in Berkeley…But more seriously, yeah. I’m finding it easier and easier to wait for DVDs as time goes by.

  19. I am still upset at the folks who laughed during Gollum’s internal dialogue scenes in The Two Towers and The Return of the King.

  20. I used to go to a local art house cinema that showed classic films weekly until they decided that there was no money in it and went to first run releases. Anyway, each Friday at midight they’d have the “Friday Night Freak Show” where they’d run a some kitchy cult movie. I went once because they were showing “Space Hunter: Adventures In The Forbidden Zone” in 3D. Anyway, I sat in the audience with about 2-3 dozen other geeks and we spent the next two hours laughing our asses off at the cheesy dialogue and cheap special effects. We even heckled it MST3K-style. No one complained and we all had a good time.

  21. I am guilty of some of the “peculiar horrors” of the arthouse movie experience. Last weekend I brought an Italian hoagie to the screening of Bernardo Bertolucci’s film The Conformist and ate it during the film. What? I don’t always have time for dinner after work…so fuck you. 🙂

    If it’s any consolation, it’s unadvisable to eat meals in a dark theater, particularly if you have food allergies…after a few minutes of eating my sub I momentarily panicked that I could be consuming onions unwittingly…

    Also, whether in an arthouse or a cineplex, I am sometimes guilty of ill-timed laughing. (Like when I saw the remake of King Kong and the characters discover his footprint for the first time, one says, “A footprint this size could only be made by one thing…”, and in the momentary silence I loudly quipped, “mosh girl!“. Yeah, I can be an attention whore if I’m feeling obnoxious enough and the movie is grade B or lower…especially if it’s a Peter Jackson movie.)

    You’d go to an art house by yourself. When would you ever do that at a multiplex?

    I went to a multiplex by myself to see Stanley Kubrick’s final film Eyes Wide Shut for a second time within 24 hours of its opening. I also saw the remake of The Stepford Wives by myself. Wait, that was probably supposed to be a hypothetical question…

  22. Four or five years ago I went to see a movie (can’t remember what it was) with a friend of mine, when about half way through it, a woman behind me answered her cell phone and then promptly spent the next 15 minutes or so describing and criticizing the movie in a loud ghetto dialect (ya’ know using “uh-huhhh”, “girl”, etc) to the person on the other end. Thankfully, I was, ummmmm…under the influence of some really good stuff so I just ate my Funyuns and Gummi Bears and went to my happy place. Haven’t been back to the movies since.

  23. The excellent japanese movie Tampopo begins with a scene where a gangster almost beats up another moviegoer for crinkling. One of the few instances of self-referencing in movies that actually worked.

  24. Speaking of intellectual snobbery, I know a former college professor of mine who headbangs (bobs his head, sometimes rather forcefully) to symphonies and orchestral music. He’s a classicist, of course. *snark*

  25. “…You’re going to burn in a very special level of hell. A level they reserve for child molesters … and people who talk at the theater.”

    — Shepherd Book, Firefly

  26. I’m surprised by the number of people who sit in a theater with an obnoxiously loud person and just suck it up. Tell ’em to shut the hell up. If they keep at it, go out and lodge a complaint. Even if the theater isn’t willing to boot the offending party out of the auditorium, they’ll probably give you a free ticket to another movie that will be ruined, and you can complain again, and thus endlessly see 70% of any film you want for free.

    As for me, I hate the “sage nodders,” who nod knowingly at every inane line of dialogue as if it contains profound wisdom only they are clever enough to comprehend.

    However, every rule has an exception, and when I ended up drunk with friends at a showing of “Mortal Kombat: Annhilation” (oh, the things we see on half-price Wednesdays), we sat behind a sage nodder who was nodding sagely at things like flaming cgi ninjas raining from the sky. He, I admit, was pretty wise.

    And overly pretentious film geeks are still fun: I once convinced a guy here in New York that “Popeye” starring Robin Williams had been adapted from several Camus books as a sharp criticism of American foreign policy.

  27. Keith,
    Everyone knows that “Popeye” was an ontological statement utilizing minimal ideograms. Sheesh.

  28. The Crinklers are a secret society of little old ladies who love to suck on hard candies.

    With a few minor edits, this sentence could have been arousing.

  29. I always wait until after a movie has been out for a while and go to the 10pm show on a Sunday. I’ve had the theatre to myself numerous times.

    And thanks Stevo for that visual. Really, thanks a lot.

  30. “I’m surprised by the number of people who sit in a theater with an obnoxiously loud person and just suck it up.”

    I have. My friends and I friends were accused of racism by the offendors (even though I am 1/2 Japanese and the two friends I was with are black) after reporting them to the cinema workers. It resulted in a loud fracas between them and us in the hallway area of the multiplex with the workers keeping us separated and then asking US to leave to avoid any problems. Yes, we got free tickets to a future movie, but that’s not what I wanted. Another case of the assholes of the world getting their way and having no consequences for their obnoxious actions.

  31. Just in case anyone had any doubts based on my last post, for the most part I hate movie noise-makers and crinklers, too. I’m usually pretty well-behaved. (I can tell this is a hot-button topic here and I don’t want to make any mortal enemies over this.)

  32. I’m usually pretty well-behaved.

    That’s not what I heard, smacky! 😉

  33. Lowdog,

    mmmmm… Interesting point.

    *crinkle*

  34. I usually take girls to the movie for a first date. If she talks during the film, I never call her again. A flawless test of compatability, in my opinion.

    Needless to say, I often go to the movies alone.

  35. I’d rather deal with The Crinkler than the couple I used to run into in NYC art houses in the late 70s – early 80s. They were a dissheveled
    man and woman in, I’d guess, their early 40s, and they would have sex (or something like it) several times during each movie, whether it
    was a bleak Bergman or a brisk Tati. And they were pretty loud about it. Sometimes
    they would get kicked out, but usually not. After my first couple of movies with them in the audience, I learned to move as far away from them
    as possible when they showed up.

  36. God, imagine if you were watching a revival of Vincent Price’s The Tingler and right behind in the audience was a Crinkler.

  37. and they would have sex (or something like it) several times during each movie, whether it
    was a bleak Bergman or a brisk Tati.

    As someone who is always interested in expanding my sexual technique, I have to ask: I think I’ve already done a brisk Tati, but what exactly is a “Bergman”?

  38. I was at a movie and an elderly couple sat directly behind me. The old man was hard of hearing and senile. He kept saying “what did he say?” and “who is that?” and “why did he do that?”. To add insult to injury his wife answered each question in a loud voice and half the time she answered wrong. I, and several others, asked them nicely, and not so nicely, to shut the hell up but they wouldn’t. Finally I stood up and swayed side to side blocking the mans view and refusing to sit down. The couple soon left to the applause of those around them.

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