Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Cinema etiquette

cinema 'si-ne-mar' (n) A large dark room with comfy chairs where people go to converse with their friends by mobile telephone.

Attempts by the cinema operators in the Emirates to install signal blockers have largely been thwarted by the authorities. Apparently, some people are so important that they can't afford to miss any mobile phone calls. These individuals, who are senior military officers, doctors on call and so forth, are apparently incapable of using voice mail, the silent or vibrate settings on their handsets, and are similarly incapable of stepping outside to chat.

There are a couple of Dubai cinemas where signal blockers do operate. This shuts up the ring tones but doesn't stop patrons from composing text messages, checking their diaries or playing Snake, all with the annoying backlight illuminating the auditorium.

No technology (aside from various medieval devices that are beyond the scope of this blog) is capable of getting people to be quiet. Of course the occasional remark, sharp intake of breath or laugh is inevitable with a live audience. But why oh why is it necessary for some cinemagoers to talk continuously throughout the entire movie? Is it so that their lips don't seize up, or as Douglas Adams suggested in The Hitch-Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy to block inadvertent telepathic transmissions or to prevent their brains from working?

It might be nice if the cinema staff warned (and if necessary expelled) disruptive audience members, but that seems unlikely to happen. We are promised cinema police. I await with interest the expulsion of a group of noisy, Nokia-wielding local lads, followed by the sudden unexplained deportation of the cinema official.

A current topic filling the Letters to the Editor page of 7DAYS concerns admission of minors. The law of the UAE is clear: The Ministry of Information and Culture decrees that anyone is allowed to see a G film. Admission to 15+ and 18+ movies is restricted to people above those ages. The cinema staff can hardly be blamed when someone who appears to be 16 turns out to be only 14. But it's commonplace to find toddlers in a 15+, which can hardly be appropriate. Of course, it's the parents' call as to what they wish their progeny to see, but I for one do not wish to have my viewing pleasure ruined by someone's wailing brat. Of course, it can be difficult and inconvenient when you can't get a babysitter, but as a non-parent I don't see that as being my problem.

In a G (or even PG) film, children are anticipated and must be tolerated. But in a 15+?


El Casareño Ingles said...

If you are tired of the cinema, Perhaps you can spend tome time downloading some of these classics (which I remember you playing at musters) from: http://www.casualhacker.net/tom.lehrer/

Remember him?

I case you didn't get my mail I'm blogging too.


Grumpy Goat said...

I'm not going to have much success downloading movies at 3kbps. Such are the delights of Ye Olde Dial-Uppe.

I do however have a HDTV DVD player and a 42 inch screen, so there remains the option of waiting for the DVD to appear.


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