Films

There is only *one* good way to watch films – alone

Posted by
Gary Ogden
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About a year ago, I decided that I don’t give a fuck. At least when it comes to films, because I, regardless of what people say, now only watch what I want to watch. I spend the majority of my time viewing gross VHS-quality B-movies from the ‘80s and ‘90s, like Evolver, the last film I watched. It’s a 1995 sci-fi horror about a small robot that turns evil during an extremely long game of laser quest, and I really enjoyed it. I really enjoyed it, because I watched it on my own.

The bliss I experienced, alone in my room, watching it uninterrupted, was heavenly. No talking, no interruptions, phone face-down behind me on silent – it was entirely what watching a movie is all about.

But sometimes, you know, I might have to watch a film with someone else. Maybe just me and one other person, or me and a couple of friends, or in a cinema, the worst one. The cinema is the most dire, harrowing place on the planet, and I cannot fathom how people can possibly enjoy watching a movie in one. Look:

The cinema is shit

Watching a film in a big theatre with loads of people should be fun, but it’s not, is it? It would be, if the other people in the cinema had any modicum of decency or even a smidgen of spatial awareness. As it happens, they absolutely fucking don’t, and they piss on the frankly ridiculous £15 you’ve just spent to sit in amongst a teeming orgy of tactless apes. 

Oh, you wanted to watch the movie in silence? You can damn well forget about that, your highness, because this cackling murder of cinema crows is going to squawk their avian lungs out with all the gusto of ten thousand children throwing a strop in Toys ‘R’ Us. And they’re not going to stop for the entire duration.

You can talk during the adverts, sure – go hell for leather on this job. Harp on about what you got up to in Tenerife to your heart’s content – no skin off my ears. In fact, I’ll even let you off if you talk during the trailers. I won’t like it, but I’ll allow it. But what sort of ignorant hippo do you have to be to talk during the sodding film? I’ve paid real-life, non-Monopoly money to watch a movie, not to listen to you honk like a pregnant goose for two hours. You punks, you heinous punks.

But it’s not just all the screaming; there’s a flaming plate of other annoying delicacies, served straight from Hell’s Kitchen just waiting to spoil your dinner, too. Phone screens are really bright, as it turns out, mate, and even though you are a good 10 metres away from me, I can still see it. I can see it, down there, juuuuuust under my eyeline, blaring out in the darkness like a homing beacon. You are supposed to be watching a film, you are not a lighthouse-keeper, you are not the fucking sun.

You are a cinema-going punter, and you are also a cow, chewing chud with your mouth open, making more noise than is scientifically possible. It’s a cinema, not a restaurant. You do not have to eat just because you are in one, you can just sit there without shovelling mounds upon mounds of dead corn into your trash compactor mouth, you ogre. 

Me, having some "alone time"

And why, whilst you smash your rude teeth together, hands needlessly rustling around in a plastic bag, does your foot have to clang against the back of my seat constantly? Are you that excited about eating a Minstrel? Are you a baby? Are you a big baby in an adult nappy, banging your arms down by your side, bum jumping up and down on the seat, legs kicking forwards, just because you’ve had a bit of sugar? If it’s a 12A I’ve gone to see, then there’s a good chance you actually are. 

The only times that it is acceptable to watch a film on the big screen is either at a small screening (yes, I am a wanker), at a film festival or at a boutique/fan-favourite cinema. This is because these places are populated by people that actually like films, and don’t feel the need to check their phones every five seconds, or knock back a whole bag of popping candy and sit there with their mouths wide open; an echo-chamber of obnoxiousness. Piss off back home so I can start going to the cinema again.

Ah, home. Can I watch a film there? Well:

Watching films with literally anyone else is shit

Nope, you’re not even safe in your own home, which is presumably populated with other people. Sometimes even nice ones.

But regardless of how nice they are, you cannot, and should not watch a movie with them. This is for a number of reasons, essentially boiling down to the following:

They have mouths and can talk out of them

The first one is the obvious one: people talk during movies. Now, I am not for one second saying you should be completely silent for the duration – there are moments when it’s OK to say something. These moments are:

  • When you genuinely don’t understand what’s going on, and have to ask. The film must be paused before asking any questions though. You are not recording a director’s commentary.
  • You have been scared by a cat jumping out of a cupboard and have shouted involuntarily, before following it up with something swift and to-the-point like “FUCK ME SIDEWAYS”.
  • You have a genuinely funny quip. Only attempt to use this excuse to talk if you are at least 85% sure that the present company will find it funny though; so, like, during Monsters, Inc., when Mike first appears, you loudly say “WHERE’S HIS DICK”.

They may not hold the same opinions as you, on films

Next up, people don’t always like the same things as you. Or me, in particular – for example, when somebody says “Batman Vs Superman was the worst film I’ve ever seen,” I can’t fathom how that can be true. And then I remember that they haven’t seen Zombie 90: Extreme Pestilence, so their good/bad scale is a lot different to mine.

So sometimes you will be enjoying a film and the other person will not. As it happens, you will now not be enjoying it by proxy. Case in point: I once decided to introduce my friend to my favourite film of all time, the 1997 martial arts film, Drive, starring Mark Dacascos. Here’s the trailer – tell me you wouldn’t enjoy this:

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Anyway, we sat down together and I was happy that I was about to create another fan of the film; everyone I had shown it to previously, had loved it. I was confident.

As it turned out, my friend did not like the film, and made a number of disparaging comments about it. So I did what any sane person would do, and immediately ejected the disc and went and hid in my bedroom. If you don’t like it, you’re not allowed to watch it anymore. I cannot have anyone ruin my enjoyment of, say, Zombie 90: Extreme Pestilence by saying something unfounded and ridiculous like “Gary, is there actually something wrong with you? Why are you watching this? It’s fucking terrible. Like, dreadful. And put some clothes on.”

Finally, mobile phones exist

People own mobile phones. I don’t like them as it is, because people can’t stay off them (me included), so I’m definitely the annoying one in the group that shouts “PHONE CLUB” on repeat until everyone puts them away. Thankfully, when watching a film, I can stay off it for the majority of the time.

Of course, again, I’m not saying you’re not allowed to look at your phone at all for the whole movie, but just keep it to the following reasons:

  • You have got a text and you want to read it
  • You need to reply to it (be sure to let the other person know you’re watching a film though, so they’ll get the hint when you don’t reply again)
  • You get a Tinder match and you need to check if they’re hot

Anything else (including actively swiping on Tinder – I’m talking post-session matches here), then you positively cannot be enjoying the film. It is impossible to understand what is happening, this is fact. And this is distracting to me, because I want you to enjoy the film with me, so when you say “That was shit” at the end, but you didn’t even watch it, I have to go and hide in my bedroom again.

My bedroom is not shit

I mean, yes it is, in many other ways that we won’t go into here, but it’s a lovely place where I can watch movies on my own. I don’t have to worry about things. I will get no judgement from watching a film called Steel and Lace, about a woman who comes back from the dead as a cyborg to cut the dicks off her rapists. I can watch that, and there’s no dumb teenager in front of me, with an inexplicably large snapback, slamming his fat hands into five crisp bags, farting up an actual hurricane and shining a laser pen directly into my eye. There’s just an empty pizza box, my feet, and air – sweet, silent, see-through air. 

This is the only way. I don’t have to worry if anybody else is enjoying the film, because there is nobody else – the only worry is whether I will like it, and because I now only watch what I want to watch, chances are I fucking well will. I haven’t watched a bad film on my own in ages. What are the chances that Kickboxer 4: The Aggressor is going to be bad? I have seen the first three, and they are all great, so I’m in a very good position: the fourth one is highly likely to be great too (it is, by the way). I get to choose the film, and enjoy it entirely on my own terms. Alone-time, just me and a screen: I love it.

No noise, no interruptions (apart from if a cat jumps out of a cupboard), just solo bliss.

Not that kind of solo bliss, you dirty hound. 

(Images: iStock)

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Author

Gary Ogden

Shortlist writer and "the least woke person in the office", Gary Ogden, likes horror movies, Cheestrings, tapping his leg under the desk, "having a drink", PDAs, not having eczema anymore, hiding from responsibility, screaming into the mirror whenever he is alone, and assorted other things. Mainly the eczema thing though. @garyblogden

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