Movie Theater Experiences

Discuss films and filmmakers of the 20th century (and even a little of the 19th century). Threads may contain spoilers.
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Ornette
Joined: Tue Nov 28, 2006 10:41 am

#101 Post by Ornette » Fri Apr 18, 2008 10:57 am

Some masterful storytelling you gave us there, Zazou. Great build-up and sublime descriptions -- I especially loved the "The print was in tatters and looked like it had been retrieved from a Turkish wrestler's jockstrap on a greasy day."

Eating plums will never be the same again...

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Zazou dans le Metro
Joined: Wed Jan 02, 2008 10:01 am
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#102 Post by Zazou dans le Metro » Fri Apr 18, 2008 11:12 am

Ornette wrote:Some masterful storytelling you gave us there, Zazou. Great build-up and sublime descriptions -- I especially loved the "The print was in tatters and looked like it had been retrieved from a Turkish wrestler's jockstrap on a greasy day."

Eating plums will never be the same again...
Credit where credit due. I cribbed this from an old Roy Harper song.

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MichaelB
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#103 Post by MichaelB » Fri Apr 18, 2008 4:33 pm

Zazou dans le Metro wrote:"Ooh, I like the sound of that", she replied and so a copy of Time Out and a tube journey later we ran into a cinema near Victoria station and eagerly took our seats with seconds to spare. Such was our hurry I didn't pay too much attention to the fact that the numerous male ushers were all built like brick shit-houses and that the carpet looked and felt like crystallised tarmac to walk over.
The Biograph in Wilton Road, long defunct. So notorious that even I never went (and I was a Scala veteran), though that was largely because I heard a rumour that they had such a problem with audience behaviour along the lines you describe that they routinely kept the auditorium lights on throughout.

It had a really bizarre and seemingly totally random programming policy - do you remember what Don't Look Now was double-billed with? Probably something like The Care Bears Movie, I imagine.

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Zazou dans le Metro
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#104 Post by Zazou dans le Metro » Fri Apr 18, 2008 4:57 pm

MichaelB wrote:do you remember what Don't Look Now was double-billed with? Probably something like The Care Bears Movie, I imagine.
I didn't stick around long enough to check out the second feature. And indeed it was the Biograph in Wilton Road. Thanks for nudging my memory.
My second film date with my bride-to-be was The Devil's Cleavage at the Brixton Ritzy. It all makes our present day film going seem rather tame by comparison.

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MichaelB
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#105 Post by MichaelB » Fri Apr 18, 2008 5:13 pm

Here's some background:
By the 1960's the cinema was still doing great business, helped by the fact that it had become a gay mens meeting place. The Sunday tabloid newspaper News of the World had banner headlines one week 'Close Down this Cinema of Vice' with a descriptive article by their intrepid reporter of the scandalous events happening in the Biograph Cinema, Victoria where there was constant moving from seat to seat by the audience and frequent visits to the gent's toilet (located on the right hand side, next to the screen). Despite this expose and what could be considered adverse publicity, nothing much changed, apart from the appointment of a bouncer and films being played with the house-lights raised slightly. The great programmes of double bills continued, the men continued to cruise around and the occasional 'tourist' would be lured in by the programme on offer, see what was going on and complain to have their money refunded (which is what happened).
And this paragraph gives some idea of the wayward programming:
People began to wonder why the Biograph Cinema was not listed, being it claimed to be the oldest cinema in England, but the truth was that it really dated from the re-build of 1927 and the frontage had been modernised in the 1960's, so there was no hope for listing it. However the owners must have thought something was going to happen along those lines and suddenly closed it down on Thursday 4th August 1983 after the first day's screening of what should have been a three day run of "Handgun" and "The Buddy Holly Story". Two days later the cinema was being stripped out and demolition was commencing. It happened so fast that the London Evening Standard newspaper were advertising the next programme: "Bronx Warriors" and "Wrong Way" the following week as the bulldozers were already wrecking the building. Within a couple of weeks there was just an empty plot of land and it remained like this for almost 20 years until a small hotel was built on the site.

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colinr0380
Joined: Mon Nov 08, 2004 4:30 pm
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#106 Post by colinr0380 » Fri Apr 18, 2008 5:19 pm

truefaux wrote:would this be the movie's intended 'best reaction'?
place: amc times square
movie: 27 dresses
reaction: the man next to me started masturbating.
I suppose in that person's defence he was probably having to do some self manipulation to try and stay awake through that turgid film (in a similar manner to having to vigorously massage your leg if it goes to sleep?) - either that or he had knocked his cola over himself and was just trying to brush his trousers off!
latest On Five Blog wrote:(along with other movies, Criterion-related or otherwise, like Cría cuervos . . ., Antonio Gaudí, Bonjour tristesse, J’entends plus la guitare, and Black Christmas, all of which make going to the multiplex seem a fruitless chore)
Tell that to Zazou and his plums!
The great programmes of double bills continued, the men continued to cruise around and the occasional 'tourist' would be lured in by the programme on offer, see what was going on and complain to have their money refunded (which is what happened).
So this cinema prefigured Goodbye, Dragon Inn? :wink: (I suppose all that would be needed for full comparison would be an old Julie Christie and Donald Sutherland at the theatre watching their younger selves with nostalgia!)
Within a couple of weeks there was just an empty plot of land and it remained like this for almost 20 years until a small hotel was built on the site.
A love hotel would seem appropriate!

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luridedith
Joined: Fri Feb 01, 2008 7:34 pm

#107 Post by luridedith » Sat Apr 19, 2008 10:46 am

Barmy wrote:A family with little kids attended the AMMI screening of "Sweet Movie" years back (perhaps thinking it was a Willie Wonka sequel) and I just couldn't wait to see how long they would last. I didn't have to wait long.
Holy shit, WOW. I would have loved to see that. Did they get to the part with the golden cock?

Closest thing to a memorable audience reaction in recent memory was at Sydney Film Festival screening of Inland Empire (my favourite movie of all time) when the whole room was cracking up at Grace Zabriskie's wonderfully batshit insane performance at the weirdo "visitor" and Dern's constant "WTF?" face. There was so much laughter that one stupid hipster who didn't get it stood up and screamed "ITS NOT A COMEDY!!!!" as if Lynch has no sense of humour what so ever and every moment of his films should be taken dead seriously.

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Murdoch
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#108 Post by Murdoch » Wed Apr 23, 2008 8:18 pm

I remember seeing No Country fo Old Men in a packed theater, that was interesting. The woman behind me was terrified throughout the movie because of Chigurh. At the beginning, when the dog was limping from an injury, I remember her saying, "I don't think I'm going to like this movie."

However my two best experiences at the movie theater are when I saw Spiderman 3 with a firend, completely empty theater, and we laughed the whole time. The other time was when I saw one of the Halloween movies with my brother, I was around 12, and at the part where Jamie Lee Curtis cut off Michael Myers' head the whole audience cheered, which was great since I was scared stiff.

However, I remain one of those people who prefer the solitude of their television to the public display that is the movie theater.

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miless
Joined: Sat Apr 01, 2006 9:45 pm

#109 Post by miless » Wed Apr 23, 2008 8:44 pm

I remember seeing The New World in a theater with 3 other people, one of them being my friend. I knew it was a mistake to bring him when we all got out of the theater and my friend said he'd rather have seen the animated version. I responded by saying it was one of the best films I'd seen so far this decade. (I dragged this same friend to Werckmeister Harmonies, and he was rolling his eyes at the extended walking sequences, elbowing me to try and see if I was actually enjoying it... I'm just glad I didn't take him to Sátántangó) He's since told me that he liked it, but thought it needed more narrative...

The most annoying experience I've ever had was at Jarmusch's Broken Flowers. I was sitting behind the most annoying family. The father kept asking the mother the most stupid questions such as 'where are they?', or 'what airport is that?'... or when a small bird is seen flying in the rear-view mirror he asked "what's that?"... I just wanted to confront him afterwards and ask him if he'd ever seen either a bird or movie before. Their teenage son starting involuntarily cackling when Lolita walked out completely naked, and continued to do this everytime she appeared on camera throughout the rest of that sequence. The father, if I remember correctly, also asked a question about why the Bill Murray's character was so taken aback by the name Lolita (as if he'd never heard of either the book, or both movies).
I expected more from a crowd at a Jarmusch film... but maybe they were expecting Stripes... or Ghostbusters 3

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Cold Bishop
Joined: Tue May 30, 2006 9:45 pm
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#110 Post by Cold Bishop » Wed Apr 23, 2008 8:59 pm

Murdoch wrote:I remember seeing No Country fo Old Men in a packed theater, that was interesting. The woman behind me was terrified throughout the movie because of Chigurh. At the beginning, when the dog was limping from an injury, I remember her saying, "I don't think I'm going to like this movie."
In a related note, does, halfway through the movie, hearing a baby start crying in the audience count as a Barmy reaction, or are parents taking kids to movies where there should be absolutely no way of reasoning that such a thing can be anything but a bad idea, a given in this day and age.

And do positive experiences count as a Barmy reaction... I saw Big Trouble in Little China at the Supertrash festival we have here in Porland. Right at the beginning of the big alley fight, the sound cuts out. As the projectionists fumble to fix it, they keep the movie running, allowing the fight scene to play out in complete silence, and what starts as the groans and complaints of the audience completely subsides as some jokers started shouting out there own sound effects, grunts, and hiiiiiiiii-yahs. Soon enough the whole audience is joining in, and admittedly, doing a pretty great job, matching the movie and keeping somewhat in unison. They of course, never got the sound working, and in the middle of the fight, the movie stops, and ten minutes later, we see the chapter menu of a dvd projected on the screen as they pick the appropriate chapter. Disappointing, but I was in good enough spirits that I didn't let it bother me.

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Dylan
Joined: Tue Nov 02, 2004 9:28 pm

#111 Post by Dylan » Wed Apr 23, 2008 9:25 pm

When I saw Broken Flowers in Victoria, BC, the projector broke down in the middle of the film and the audience had to wait 45 minutes for it to be fixed. When the film ultimately ended, almost everybody was saying not only what a rip-off the film was, but a waste of time that they had to wait 45 minutes for that conclusion.

All throughout Paranoid Park, there was one man who was in attendance who would groan every five minutes, beginning with the first slow motion skating footage and all the way into the final scene.

A Chinese couple who were sitting in the back of me during a screening of 2046 were laughing about every five minutes, almost on cue, then whispering Chinese to each other following each session of laughter. This went on for the entire two hours.

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miless
Joined: Sat Apr 01, 2006 9:45 pm

#112 Post by miless » Thu Apr 24, 2008 12:13 am

Dylan wrote:When I saw Broken Flowers in Victoria, BC, the projector broke down in the middle of the film and the audience had to wait 45 minutes for it to be fixed. When the film ultimately ended, almost everybody was saying not only what a rip-off the film was, but a waste of time that they had to wait 45 minutes for that conclusion.
When I saw Sátántangó, the film probably broke upwards of 5 times... adding, probably, a half an hour to the runtime... luckily everyone there was in it for the long-haul (all 12, or so, people).

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M
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#113 Post by M » Thu Apr 24, 2008 1:34 am

Cold Bishop wrote:In a related note, does, halfway through the movie, hearing a baby start crying in the audience count as a Barmy reaction, or are parents taking kids to movies where there should be absolutely no way of reasoning that such a thing can be anything but a bad idea, a given in this day and age.
That reminds of when I saw V for Vendetta at the theater. A baby was crying constantly and babbling through quiet moments. My wife and I turn to shush the parents eventually, to find the baby accompanied by an old woman and a teenaged boy in a wheelchair. Naturally one can't escape moral disapprobation scolding an old woman, a teenaged boy in a wheelchair, and a baby, no matter how much they deserve it, so we were forced to quietly endure. Babies should be checked at the door like camcorders at rock concerts.

Don't ask why such a motley crew chose to attend V for Vendetta of all things. Perhaps the teenaged boy was a fan of the comic.

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Morbii
Joined: Sat Nov 27, 2004 3:38 am

#114 Post by Morbii » Thu Apr 24, 2008 2:28 am

M, you just reminded me of one of my most annoying theater adventures. I, too, was in the theater to see V For Vendetta. I was likely already in a bad mood, but it wasn't helped any by the fact that some guy (probably in his 60's) started filing his nails directly behind me. During the movie. (I think he started before the movie and I figured he'd stop, but he kept going - this detail in parens because I don't remember exactly). For about 5-10 minutes I just sat there getting more and more annoyed (pretty much hardly paying attention to the film - I am mostly non-confrontational in such situations) until finally I turned around and asked him to stop. That whole escapade pretty much ruined the movie for me as I was so irritated that I think I lost most of the beginning of it (I was probably fantasizing how I'd mutilate his body after I killed him or something ;)).

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Lemmy Caution
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#115 Post by Lemmy Caution » Thu Apr 24, 2008 4:46 am

M wrote:That reminds of when I saw V for Vendetta at the theater. A baby was crying constantly and babbling through quiet moments. My wife and I turn to shush the parents eventually, to find the baby accompanied by an old woman and a teenaged boy in a wheelchair. ...
Babies should be checked at the door like camcorders at rock concerts.
That was the perfect set-up. Race over, grab the baby, and tell some lobby employee to watch the kid for you til the film ends. No way could the old lady or the wheelchair kid catch up to you.

I'm going to veer off a little, but when I first got to China there were camcorded Vcd's of films here. And often enough the guy recording the film would engage in various activities which also got recorded. There was one or two where the video-taker munched popcorn throughout drowning out the soundtrack. Some friends told me about one where the videographer had gas. I also remember my friend offering to loan me Get Carter but explaining that the whole film was recorded on a 45 degree angle. I passed.

It was sometimes interesting to note audience reactions (laughter, groans, etc) or observe a coat slipping over the camera when an usher approached. Sometimes the quality was good and you'd be wrapped up in a film, and suddenly a head would appear at the bottom of the screen and someone would scoot down their row on their way to the toilet.

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MichaelB
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#116 Post by MichaelB » Thu Apr 24, 2008 5:19 am

miless wrote:I expected more from a crowd at a Jarmusch film... but maybe they were expecting Stripes... or Ghostbusters 3
Which reminds me - I saw Down By Law on its original release in Italy, which was hilarious. The cinema was totally packed out, mostly - judging from the cheers when he appeared on screen - by hardcore Roberto Benigni fans who were clearly expecting a rather more farcical film than they were actually getting.

They were also none too thrilled by the subtitles (almost unheard of in Italy, but Jarmusch - knowing that he could pick and choose his distributor in that particular territory! - made it a contractual condition), and I'm sure they didn't understand more than a quarter of what was actually said (they didn't offer a translation so much as a rough precis), but they thought pretty much everything Benigni said or did was automatically hilarious, so a good time was generally had by all.

(Including me - I normally see Jarmusch films in arthouse cinemas with a silent and respectful crowd in the low double figures, so seeing it being treated as a mainstream comedy was a new and rather refreshing experience)

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TomReagan
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#117 Post by TomReagan » Thu Apr 24, 2008 10:02 am

I caught Bad Lieutenant during its theater run at the Angelika in the early nineties. The day began strangely enough, as there was a gentleman with Tourette's syndrome on line directly in front on me (if you have never heard the outbursts in real life, they can be jolting and remarkable, as they were with this fellow), but the real fun began once inside.

An older couple took their seats behind me just prior to the film beginning, fully armed with popcorn, soda, etc. They continued to jabber away as the film began, much to the chagrin of the other few dozen people in attendance. It was during the rape scene of the nun that they gave the game away -- during a second of silence, and with a complete lack of self consciousness, the woman loudly commented / complained... "This is not Howard's End."

On cue, someone retorted "No this is not fucking Howard's End" and everyone began laughing. The couple left immediately upon their epiphany. In hindsight, I wish they had stuck around -- it would have been priceless to gauge their reactions to subsequent scenes.

Ferrara probably would have been deeply gratified by that moment.

I can only hope that the Tourette's gentlemen was waiting for that couple in the theater showing Howard's End.

To this very day, I still use that line whenever appropriate.
Last edited by TomReagan on Thu Apr 24, 2008 8:22 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Murdoch
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#118 Post by Murdoch » Thu Apr 24, 2008 1:40 pm

When I saw Children of Men the projectionist screwed up by cutting off the top of the film so the actors' heads were not seen on the screen, this went on for about ten minutes. At first I thought it was some strange stylistic technique Cuaron did, then my friend complained to me and I realized it was just a trouble in the projection. This made me angry I sat through ten minutes only seeing 7/8 of the intended picture, and made me feel stupid for thinking it was part of the cinematography of the film. :oops:

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Doctor Sunshine
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#119 Post by Doctor Sunshine » Thu Apr 24, 2008 4:21 pm

There's only one art house-type theatre in my area but something annoying happens just about every time I go there. More often it's the teenage staff screwing up the projection by any number of inventive methods but audience members do alright too.

At Irreversible, there was a guy in an over-sized puffy coat and toque switching from row to row at the beginning of the movie. I thought he was a hold over from the theatre's seedier days looking for a spot to masturbate but (as I learned from this thread) maybe he was just cruising. There was also an old couple in my row that left five minutes into the rape scene--but only because they'd finished masturbating.

An obnoxious drunk kept shouting things at the screen during Oldboy. His friends kept shushing him but it wasn't until the octopus scene that he managed a, "The FUCK! Oh, what the FUCK! FUCK THIS! I'm going outside to smoke some WEED!" and wandered off not to return.

One good reaction, or improvisation, was at one of those World's Best Commercials things 2 or 3 years ago (and the last time I went to one of them). It was projected from a DVD and, evidently, a well-worn DVD because it was constantly freezing or skipping or the sound would go out. I'm sure a number of people must have left but the bulk of the audience stayed and were not having a great time. Collective groans soon accompanied every glitch. Well into the show a weird car commercial with a catchy tune had the sound cut out but then an audience member piped in and started humming the tune. That got a good laugh.

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Oedipax
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#120 Post by Oedipax » Thu Apr 24, 2008 4:57 pm

Doctor Sunshine wrote:There was also an old couple in my row that left five minutes into the rape scene--but only because they'd finished masturbating.
Reading this was kinda similar to watching Irreversible for the first time :shock:

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MichaelB
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#121 Post by MichaelB » Thu Apr 24, 2008 6:34 pm

TomReagan wrote:An older couple took their seats behind me just prior to the film beginning, fully armed with popcorn, soda, etc. They continued to jabber away as the film began, much to the chagrin of the other few dozen people in attendance. It was during the rape scene of the nun that they gave the game away -- during a second of silence, and with a complete lack of self consciousness, the woman loudly commented / complained... "This is not Howard's End".
Elderly woman buys ticket for Pasolini's Salò, emerges after ten minutes saying "I don't think it's my sort of thing" - I gave her a refund without waiting to be asked!

(Amusingly enough, she'd been to all the other programmes in our Pasolini retrospective...)

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colinr0380
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#122 Post by colinr0380 » Fri Apr 25, 2008 8:23 am

Even Porcile?

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MichaelB
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#123 Post by MichaelB » Fri Apr 25, 2008 9:51 am

colinr0380 wrote:Even Porcile?
Can't remember if we showed that - it wasn't a complete retro.

Actually, it was probably on the other half of the Salo double bill!

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SoyCuba
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#124 Post by SoyCuba » Sun Apr 27, 2008 12:41 pm

I have a very limited cinema experience, since I mainly just watch DVDs, so I'll tell about one time I watched a DVD with a fried of mine.

Prior to this I had been watching only horror movies with this friend, but this time he wanted to see American History X, which he had heard "is an amazing movie and has a scene with a man's head being crushed against curb". I was really hesitant to show the movie but finally agreed to. When the movie ended he said "it was a really good film, but at the end he should have killed at least 30 niggers for revenge". Ouch.

Props55
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#125 Post by Props55 » Thu May 01, 2008 2:22 am

Regarding SALO, a friend of mine caught it at an art cinema somewhere in the D.C. area on original release. He was very absorbed in the film but was not unaware that there were more than a few walkouts and appalled murmurings. When the house lights came up and he was exiting with the hardy survivors he noticed all the virtually untouched tubs of popcorn and sodas sitting in the seats and on the floor and couldn't resist commenting loudly: "My, my just look at all those treats someone left behind. Wasn't anyone hungry?". He said some of the angry looks he got could have literally killed!

I had a similar experience at the Lafont in Atlanta when they screened THE COOK, THE THIEF, HIS WIFE AND HER LOVER at a weekend matinee. This theatre was patronized at these times to a large degree by senior citizen film buffs (as well as budget conscious students and young professionals) and there were about a dozen or so that I recognized as regulars. I didn't think much about it when they all started filing in and taking their seats but not many of them lasted to the bitter end. Lots of walkouts, some angry but many upset or even frightened. I tuned them out but came to a sudden epiphany as I realized that they very probably came to see the artier releases after skimming over the capsule reviews and didn't bother to read the longer notices. OK for Woody Allen but not for Peter Greenaway. I recalled Richard's anecdote about SALO and glanced at the seats on the way out of the auditorium. Sure enough, they were filled with abandoned concessions virtually untouched!

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