Humour: The movie companion compatibility test you didn’t know you needed
There’s more to compatibility than love and software. One of the tricky equations that life keeps throwing our way is the movie compatibility one. How to balance friendship or kinship with a mutually pleasurable movie-watching experience, especially in the theatre? The ‘issue’ might seem frivolous, but spare a moment for all those annoying, frustrating, occasionally even infuriating hours spent with a companion whose movie-watching style runs painfully counter to your own. Here I list my own grievances, the movie companions who deserve the Golden Raspberry awards for making film-viewing a ridiculous experience.
The over appreciators
A category so rare, I’ve had to invent a new term for it. These are those exalted beings who find goodness in everything cinematic. It doesn’t matter if you’re watching a film about sentient baboons in space or execrable humans in a co-dependent love dynamic, they will find something to cheer about. “But the filmmaker tried …” “But the heroine’s costumes …” “But that song about tanhaai …” There is no film base enough to not be lifted by their philanthropic vision. Avoid these like the mayo-soaked chicken burger at the multiplex refreshments counter. No point testing relationship or digestive boundaries.
This specimen, with rare tastes and a highly discerning cinematic palate, is growing at an alarming rate, thanks to the proliferation of web channels. They’re burdened with an intimate knowledge of world cinema – several even have degrees and diplomas that lend credence to their cultivated opinions. While you’re trying to follow the human drama unfolding on screen, they interrupt with: “But the shadow is falling in the wrong way! What is the light source?!!” Nothing gets them excited like a good sound mix or an appropriately colour-corrected frame. What is a film if it isn’t a sum of its technical parts?
The logic hounds
“Willing suspension of disbelief.” Coleridge’s famous formulation suggests that to enjoy fiction, readers must make certain allowances when it comes to narrative implausibility. The phrase means nothing to the Sherlock next to you, who will rigorously question every narrative choice of a film. They will, for instance, follow the natural cycles in a film, reacting to an unseasonal shower with a gleeful: “A-ha! Told you it’s a stupid film.” My favourite such criticism is related to The Sixth Sense, a film universally acknowledged as a satisfying suspense drama. “But where does Bruce Willis sleep in the night?” I’m still to fully process the import of this statement. Of all the possible objections to a supernatural thriller …
The repeat viewers
Nothing is as traumatic as watching a film strongly recommended by a friend, in the company of said friend. I place myself without defence in this annoying category. We preface every important dialogue or well-loved shot with oohs and aahs and sniggers and claps that can drive even our closest friends up the wall. We explain moments that need no explaining. Foreshadow events, draining them of all significance. And finally, compulsively judge our friends’ reactions, comparing them to our own. Take the recco and run, folks.
The inattentive ones
This is the category that tests my patience the most. As a hawklike viewer of every frame of a film from start to finish, I’m regularly appalled at the laidback attitude that some of my friends bring to the movie-watching experience. They arrive late, spend an inordinate amount of attention on snacks, excuse themselves at various crucial moments to take or make calls, and even doze off on occasion! To make matters worse, they casually ask: “So what did I miss?” after each of their absences. Depending on the person and the plot, my answer swings between an earnest summary and a dismissive laugh. Then I pick up an imaginary black marker and strike yet another person off the rapidly depleting movie companion list. Let no one ever accuse me of taking entertainment lightly.
From HT Brunch, July 21, 2019
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