Popcorn and a Shluff: My Dad’s Guide to Watching Movies

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It is almost impossible to put into words the experience of going to a movie with my Dad, but I wanted to try. The Vereds bleed popcorn (we have even been known to go to the movie theatre just to pick up movie theatre popcorn), and that is all because Arnie Vered loved movies.

Just like each of my siblings, I learned to love going to the movies from my Dad. My Dad would go to any movie. He would see movies multiple times because he just loved the act of going to see a movie; also, because he never stayed awake for an entire movie so there was always something new to see. When we go to Florida in December, we see a movie almost every night. The movie theatre was my Dad’s happy place.

Going to the movies with my Dad was a special experience, and there are a billion stories to share. Here are just a few.

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In 1996, my Dad took me to see Baz Luhrmann’s William Shakespeare’s Romeo + Juliet. At some point in the movie, my dad fell asleep, as he invariably did in every film-going excursion. The most famous love story unfolded in all of its made-for-MTV glitz and pathos, and as the movie ended with star-crossed lovers Leonardo DiCaprio and Claire Danes realizing too late that they probably should have discussed their plan ahead of time, my dad awoke from his nap and turned to me.

“So what happened?”

“Daddy, are you serious? Didn’t you read the play in high school?”

“Sure, but maybe they changed the ending.”

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My Dad could fall asleep in any type of movie. It didn’t matter the volume or soundtrack, the mood or genre, or his level of excitement for the movie. He would eat his popcorn while the trailers played, and then, when the lights went down, he would just drift off into a snooze from which he might occasionally awake, only to fall back asleep again.

I remember the first time that I realized that having one’s parent fall asleep at a movie was not a normal thing. My father had taken me and my friend Catherine to see The Sixth Sense. Catherine and I were relatively new friends, so you can imagine my embarrassment when, partway through this eerily silent and on-first-viewing thrilling and suspenseful movie, my Dad started snoring.

“Daddy… Ssshhhh!” I hissed at him, praying that, just like when your stomach rumbles with hunger and it seems like everyone must be able to hear it but no one actually does, his snores just seemed louder to me because I was uniquely attuned to hearing them.

“Ok, ok,” he said, before promptly nodding off again.

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When it was time to declare my Program of Study in university, I remember sitting on my front steps with my friend Julie, looking through the courses of study and not being interested in anything I saw. But when I saw Cinema Studies as an option, I thought, “Huh. I like movies. I would love to learn more about them.” I don’t think I would have chosen Cinema Studies if it had not been for my Dad’s influence. But I can’t even imagine what I might have majored in.

In my Cinema Studies major, I had three film screenings a week. Some were scheduled first thing in the morning, others mid-afternoon, or at night. And you know what? I fell asleep in every single film screening I had throughout four years of university. Didn’t matter the movie, the time of day, the comfortableness of the seats. I fell asleep in every single screening, even ones that I was interesting in seeing. In those film screenings, I was my father’s daughter.

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My Dad had a laugh that was infectious. It was full-bodied and gleeful and you simply couldn’t resist laughing yourself. There was no point in trying.

There is one scene that made him laugh more than anything else in the world. Simply referring to it was enough to make him dissolve into giggles. One time, driving to Montreal, he almost drove us off the road because someone mentioned it. I can’t even count the number of times that we would try to lure him to the TV or computer so that we could watch his reaction to watching that scene.

“Hey, Daddy. Remember that scene in Bridesmaids….”

Somewhere, Daddy is laughing SO HARD.

 

The Biggest Problem with Going to the Movies is…: Cellphones

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The cellular phone is the worst thing to happen to the movie theatre experience.

I have less than zero patience for people who go to a 90-minute to two-and-half-hour movie and fiddle with their cell phone the whole time. This disrespectful moviegoer always seems to sit within a one-seat radius simply to rankle me. These people should know, though, that when it comes to texting during a movie, this polite, well-mannered Canadian is like The Hulk. You don’t want to see me angry. 

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If I was a superhero vigilante, my mission would be to rid the world, or at least the continental United States, of movie ruiners, and the first guy I would hunt down is the dude who sat a seat away from me during Argo. Dude, you know who you are. 

Throwback Thursday: You know what you did!

You are the guy who checked his phone repeatedly throughout the movie. Fine. People are concerned about their post-movie meet-up, I get it. What I can’t accept – nay, won’t accept! – is when you move beyond monitoring your texts to actually composing an email – five paragraphs! – at the climax of the film.

Me, after staring at the man for two full minutes: “Excuse me. Are you going to put your phone away? It’s the climax of the movie and you’ve been on your phone for the whole <expletive> movie.”

Guy looks at me and gestures with his hands for me to simmer down. My blood boils over with rage. 

I want to talk to the ladies for a second. Just because you are looking at your cell phone in your purse doesn’t mute the bright glow of the screen. I know you’re checking your phone to see if that guy texted, but I can tell you he didn’t and honey, he’s not going to. If you aren’t able to enjoy the movie because this is eating away at you, then you should be drowning your sorrows at a bar, not illuminating them at the expense of everyone else’s theatre experience.

To the guy who got dragged to see Magic Mike by his lady: I’m sorry you’re bored. It’s a terrible movie with a ridiculous plot that and maybe you thought that the stripping would be balanced by an actual, interesting plot (call me stupid, but I did). But if you’re bored, then excuse yourself to the washroom. Don’t start scrolling through The New York Times mobile website.

Listen, there’s nothing I love more than going to the movies and being transported to another time, another time, another place, another world. Since when did movie theatres become a place where people live-tweet, text, and compose emails rather than pay attention to the wonder of the visual medium that is before them?

Screw Disney World. For me, the happiest place on Earth would be the Alamo Drafthouse theatre in Austin.

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You get me, Alamo Drafthouse, you really get me. I’ve always wanted to visit Austin to go to your theatre, and when you come to Brooklyn in 2015, I’ll be first in line.

For now, a warning to moviegoers across this land: Every time you decide to take out your cellphone during a movie, your choice is not just affecting you, but everyone around you. Watch this Alamo Drafthouse PSA and learn: Don’t be a dick.