Monday, May 25, 2009

Go To The Movies: A Lesson in Culture

I know, I know, I've written about this before but it is so odd, so mysterious, so irksome that it warrants another look at this.

Last weekend the wife and I went to see the new movie, Angels and Demons, based on Dan Brown's book of the same title. In fact, we read this book when it first came out some years ago.

The showing we attended happened to be in English with Spanish subtitles. I can't remember when we last saw a movie in English but the time we wanted to attend, so as to avoid the headache of find a taxi home at a later hour, had this format.

If you want a lesson in culture, a.k.a. how Guanajuatenses watch movies, then you've got to attend a movie when here. Any movie will do, and you won't be disappointed.

I used to believe that the bizarre movie going behavior I first noticed was due to the fact that the Guanajuatenses attending the movie couldn't follow the subtitles in the rapidity in which they flash on and off the screen. I mean, I can barely do so in the few movies I've tried watching with English subtitles.

They act the same no matter what language the movie or subtitles is in.

After a careful and most certainly scientific observation of Mexican youth in Guanajuato at the movies I've concluded that they don't come to the movie to watch the movie. In the age category of 0 - 30, Guanajuatenses youth come to the movies and pay the $45.00 peso (Yikes!) ticket price to do anything but watch the damn movie!

The movie we were at was intense.

Angels & Demons is a bestselling mystery-thriller novel written by American author Dan Brown. It is directed by Ron Howard, with Tom Hanks, Ewan McGregor, Ayelet Zurer. The protagonist, Harvard symbologist Robert Langdon, works to solve a murder and prevent a terrorist act.

I liked this movie very, very much. It is high-octane action and I cannot begin to imagine watching it and having to depend on the micro-nano-second appearances and vanishings of subtitles.

As we sat there sipping our watery diet coke and waiting for the movie to begin, the rest of the audience showed up.

The only persons near our age sat directly in back of us. They seemed like lovely middle-class Mexicans who I believed, and was proved correct, were there to see the movie. The rest of the movie were children who appeared to be four or five years old on up into early thirties.

The place was packed. People came in trying to find seats and not fall over from the balancing of their trays of popcorn and coke.

When the previews of future movie madness coming to a theater near you came on, the volume of talking rose to a fever pitch. No one, you see, watches the previews. They act as though this is their theatrical cue to begin screeching their heads off to one another talking about God only knows what. This continues until the featured movie begins.

Strangely, there is a hush that falls over the packed crowd for about three minutes while the opening of the feature plays. Then it is as though they aren't even aware of where they are and what it is they are suppose to be doing--movie watching.

Let me just say here that the whole act of deciding to go to the movies, routing around in dirty pants and under couch cushions trying to come up with the $45.00 pesos ticket fee, getting to the theater, buying nasty movie-made refreshments, seems to me to be in vain when once you get here and the movie begins you don't watch it. Why bother?

And, not watching the movie is what the do.

In two rows directly in front of us, out came the cell phones. That eerie bluish, ghostly glow from the microscopic screen just unnerves me. Why can't they have green screens like a radar console has. Someone must have gotten a really pithy text message, so I am guessing, and had to pass her cell phone up and down the row. It looked like a little blue fairy dancing about in a floating manner visiting each college-age youth so as she was blessing them.

Two or three college students whipped out some headphones, plugged them into a MP3 video device, and began watching music videos THROUGHOUT THE ENTIRE MOVIE!

There were two of that ilk sitting next to me. Not only did this twenty something guy talk during the entire movie, he laughed. He actually would belly-roar laugh when a murderous scene would come on the screen. And I mean this movie was graphic in showing a Catholic Cardinal being roasted alive in a Messianic pose at the altar of a church in Rome. It was definitely NOT a comedy.

The guy laughed!

I would love to tell you that this was a one-time event. I have seen it all too often.

The children in the crowd were to busy having their parents try to hush them up or going to the bathroom to get rid of the cokes they guzzled before the movie. (I don't know why this does not occur to parents, but letting a small child have a 32 ounce coke before a movie is going to guarantee that neither you or the kid is going to be watching the movie. Why not take them for pizza and all the coke they want AFTER the show?)

Such is the movie-going life in Guanajuato. I can't say whether this behavior is so in other parts of Mexico since it is only in Guanajuato I've gone to the movies.

Maybe I should start subscribing to Netflix as they do in San Miguel de Allende...


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