Sunday, 17 February 2008

Reel Bore

Electric WriterAs I’m sure the few of you who read this blog can appreciate, writer’s block is a rather distressing thing. It can become even more distressing when the blog one has specifically set up to comment on such issues actually becomes the victim of the very subject matter it is discussing. Hence, forgiveness is sought most humbly for the rather large gap between entries (as the novelist said to the vicar).

However, I must point out that part of this gap is due to my media industry roots where I find myself in the fortunate position of receiving delegate status at the annual London Film Festival. As such, I recently spent a rather enjoyable five weeks doing nothing but watching new films, primarily from the ‘world cinema’ sector.

The advantage of being a delegate is that you have the opportunity to attend press and industry screenings, which means that you can enjoy a film in peace without having to mix with the general public and all the irritations they bring with them. Unfortunately, one does find that, on the odd occasion, it becomes necessary to attend a public festival screening.

Latecomers are the worst irritation one can face in the cinema, and audibly apologetic latecomers are even worse. The worst case was some woman who turned up 20 minutes after the film had started and shuffled her way past me whilst continuously whispering her apologies. Fifteen minutes later she got bored, got up, and shuffled past me again whispering more apologies as she left.

You can always guarantee, though, that the worst case of ‘audience participation’ will occur during a foreign-language film where subtitles are required. Sitting in front of me in one particular subtitled screening this year were Mr. and Mrs. Short. As the lights came down, Mr. Tall arrived and sat directly in front of them, so Mr. and Mrs. Short spent the first ten minutes of the film whispering complaints to each other about how they couldn’t read the subtitles properly. They then spent the entire duration of the film swaying to the left and right as each subtitle appeared.

With Mr. Tall being so tall, one also found it necessary to sway back and forth in synchronisation with Mr. and Mrs. Short. I subsequently noticed that, for some reason, all of this had set off a bizarre chain reaction in the rows behind, and there was now a string of audience members all pointlessly swaying from side to side in perfect unison with each other.

By now I was so amused at what was happening that I’d lost interest in the film altogether. Even more amusing was when a particularly long subtitle appeared on the screen. Somehow, due to lack of concentration, Mr. and Mrs. Short completely lost synchronisation, swayed in opposing directions, and ended up headbutting each other.

That’ll teach the general public to be interested in foreign-language films. Leave it to the experienced luvvies who really know how to read a subtitle – just like me.