Milton and I recently attended a weeknight preview screening of Sofia Coppola’s upcoming release, Somewhere, at the AMC 34th Street Theater, a few blocks west of Herald Square. We arrived early to ensure ourselves good seats in the middle of the middle of the theater. As I led the way into our chosen row, I hit my brakes a seat shy of dead center when I noticed a wad of gum strategically placed on the cup holder of the once most select seat in the row. I pointed a finger at the abomination.
Me: Look at that.
I lean right, giving Milton a better view as he leans left and peers over my shoulder.
Milton: That’s disgusting.
We remove our layers of coats, hats, and scarves and settle into our seats next to The Contaminated One. I take out my camera and proceed to shoot photographs. As I show Milton my pictures on the viewfinder we discuss this bit of anonymous moviegoer DNA.
Me: Who would do something like that? It’s so hostile.
Milton ponders before delivering his verdict.
Milton: A real New Yorker. Who else would be both inconsiderate and original?
Milton: Whoever did that probably heard that if you stick gum on your seat, it serves as a bed bug deterrent. Soon enough, we’ll all be doing that.
I doubt that Milton’s bed bug deterrent theory has any credence, but that choice seat was people-averse in an otherwise sold out screening. Something else unusual is that we were not asked once, “Is that seat taken?” It was evident that no one wanted to take it. Some gum chewing New Yorkers might be inconsiderate slobs, but most New Yorkers, whether gum chewing or not, do have a threshold when it comes to their proximity to something gross as evidenced that night.
For anyone inclined to see Somewhere, by all means go but go fast for once it opens later this month it may not be in theaters for very long. It’s a beautifully acted and photographed wisp of a story set in the Chateau Marmont hotel that has a strong European sensibility, which might bore the daylights out of mainstream filmgoers with a penchant for special effects and traditional narratives.
The Rudes, the couple sitting next to Milton had no qualms spontaneously talking in a normal tone of voice during the middle of the film, completely distracting everyone within earshot. Since I am rather hard of hearing, at first I thought their utterances were part of the soundtrack. Milton thought that they were under the impression that they were in their own private screening room – apparently oblivious to the few hundred guests, and the dozen that were around them flashing near-psychotic stink eyes. Although Milton wanted to beat them both with a gum-decorated armrest, he resisted. A woman sitting in front of The Rudes finally gave them a loud “Shush!” That message penetrated their granite skulls. I’m grateful that they remembered to leave their yapping punt dog at home. Too bad they forgot they were in a movie theater when they started gassing about who’s going to pick up the fish for dinner.