Saturday, 2 February 2008

No Trailers For Middle-Aged Men

Having self-diagnoses oneself with agoraphobia, Monkeypipe has taken to visiting the cinema at those times when screenings are least likely to be busy. It’s a risky move, as once in the screen, once in the seat, any number of folk can join at any time – and if someone sits in the row directly behind, or in a seat that is at least three seats near mine, I spend the entire time in a state of high anxiety that no number of tutted backward glances can get across. Don’t get me wrong, I like people. I like going to the cinema with people. I just can’t stand the experience at some deep level for some reason.

Anyway, with this in mind I have discovered that my preferred time of visit is on a Tuesday in the afternoon – it’s the least-peak time. Friday through Sunday is definitely out, opening weekends are the busiest. Monday doesn’t seem right, still too close to the weekend rush. Wednesday is Orange Wednesday’s 2-4-1 deal, which is great if you’re visiting the cinema with a friend, but when you factor that almost any number of people that might be visiting the cinema on an afternoon could literally be doubled at the touch of a few buttons, well, that will not work for me. Thursday has become like a new secret Friday, a special ‘advanced screening day’. I remember queuing up to watch Tim Burton’s Batman back in 1989 at eight in the morning on a Friday to get the advanced screening on the day that it was actually released. These new advanced screenings are shames – an extra day tacked on to the release date that fudges the numbers and makes a film look busier and more successful in it’s opening weekend, thus ensuring it’s longevity. I will not be party to such a shame. Plus, the kinds of people that go to advanced screenings to be first to see a film are the kind that will get too excited during it’s showing as to actually verbalise their glee at moments – leading to more tutted glances than my chiropractor recommends.

Tuesday’s it is for me then.

During my most recent visit, wherein I watched the fantastic No Country For Old Men, a brilliantly crafted and intelligent film, there was a trailer for something called Untraceable. Before the trailer ran, the screen announced that the trailers that were about to be shown were suitable for the film that would follow. If by this they mean it fits the certified age group, then okay. If in anyway they are trying to suggest, which I suspect, that if you liked the main film, perhaps these are some of the other films that you might like, they are way off. Staring Diane Lane and Tom Hank’s Son, Untraceable tries to do that thing that films that are written badly but want to be thrillers in the modern world do, and tries to make computers look at first the driving force behind police work rather than just a means of filing information, then it tries to imply – in Saw like ridiculousness – that computers can kill, before finally trying to make computers and the people that know about them – I mean really know about them – seem sinister, deadly and so damned untraceable, that they can do anything.

Film you in your own house and then stream the video onto your computer screen? – okay. Hack into your cars computer system and make it stop, then hack into the car's radio and talk to you in a sinister voice, all the while hiding in the back? – right. Bounce an ISP address for a website that will receive millions of hits around so many sources that you’ll never find it? – yeah right! I don’t know much about computing, but I get the impression that setting up a website that streams a live video in perfect HD clarity, which is connected to a machine that will kill someone at a speed dependent on the number of people that log onto that website, and then fields millions in visitor traffic, would actually either a) be so complicated to set up that any amount of actual police work – by this I mean investigative work rather than sitting at a computer saying ‘oh my god, he’s bouncing the signal around the world, I can’t get a fix on him, he’s killing him!’ – would actually find the culprit pretty quickly or b) crash because of the number of people visiting it at one time, or c) cost so much that any amount of actual police work, etc.

Computers aren’t scary, tension inducing or exciting, they are exactly what they say they are, computers. They crunch numbers and ask questions.

As for No Country For Old Men – brilliant, beautiful, tense, wonderfully acted, containing sequences of sheer brilliance, and not a computer in sight.

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