Sunday, February 04, 2007
Let's All Go to the Lobby
Between 1998 and 2004 I went to the movies A LOT. I know exactly what movies I saw, where I saw them and who was there with me. No, I don't have a memory like a steel trap, but I do have a movie journal in which I recorded details about all my trips to the cinema. Of course this isn't that long ago, but it felt like movies were considerably cheaper then and there was always something worth seeing playing. Nowadays, going to the movies feels like a much bigger deal than it once was. I've become more selective and won't cough up $10 for a ticket unless the film is oscar-worthy or at least funny.
Last week, however, the movie snob in me took a backseat to the girl who just wanted to escape the cold and binge on buttered popcorn. My new friends Kate and Hannah and I went to one of Zurich's newest, hippest theaters to see Blood Diamond. Monday night is cheap night at the Zurich cinemas (admission is only 12SF as opposed to 18SF, but this is still about $9) and we figured we'd need to make the most of it. This was our last free Monday night before our German classes began and thus our only opportunity to take advantage of cheap night until July. I wasn't terribly excited about seeing a film that could make me feel guilty about my new diamond engagement ring, but I was game for an adventure.
The first part of the adventure involved choosing seats not when we entered the darkened theater, but before then, when we purchased the tickets. Assigned seating in the cinemas is common in Europe and I believe this system is neither better nor worse than the one I'm used to; there are pros and cons for both. On the plus side, assigned seating gives patrons the freedom to talk to friends and avoid watching offensive advertisements before the feature presentation begins. You have all the time in the world to buy concessions and linger in the lobby because no one can steal your seat. In fact, many movie goers slipped quietly into the theater just as they rolled the opening credits.
If this were an ordinary trip to the movies, I would have passed the concession stand without blinking an eye. I just paid $10 to get in, there's no way I'm paying $4.50 for popcorn I can make at home for pennies. Tonight was different, though; I was in Zurich with two new friends seeing a movie starring Leonardo DiCaprio. I needed a treat. Fortunately, Kate and Hannah are the type of gals you should never, never go out with if you're on a diet. They must breed 'em differently down unda because these girls can eat. We stocked up on junk food like we were leaving on the Oregon Trail (this is an Ellen Degeneres joke). We shared a large bag of popcorn, one bag of Maltesers, another of peanut M&Ms and two peach iced teas and we ate every last morsel. Well, we would have eaten every morsel if I hadn't spilled a handful of M&Ms on the floor. Those of you who know me know that I'm pretty generous with the five second rule (to be honest, I don't feel restricted by a sixty second rule). So, of course, I tried to rescue those few fallen chocolate candies, but the theater sloped downward and they rolled away. It's a shame that my reaction wasn't, 'well, I shouldn't have eaten those anyway,' and instead was 'next time I'm buying a candy that can't roll, like licorice.'
As if we hadn't eaten enough already, they stopped the movie for a ten minute intermission, allowing movie goers yet another chance to purchase concessions. Hannah and Kate saved room for an ice cream bar, but I just had to give my stomach a break. I can understand having an intermission during an epic like Gone With the Wind or The Sound of Music, but Blood Diamond? It just seemed out of place especially since they stopped the projector almost mid-scene.
In the end, the movie had inspired some guilt about my diamond engagement ring, and I suppose that was the point. Considering the experience I had, the expensive tickets, the assigned seats, the powerful draw of the concession stand and the intermission, would I go again? Absolutely, I would go again, but as I'm learning with all things Swiss, going to the movies requires planning. Make sure you're in the right mood for the movie (you can get guilt at home for free), buy your tickets in advance and opt for candy that cannot roll.