Saw ‘The Martian’ this morning, and it was bloody good. I don’t visit the cinema much anymore, blu-ray technology being what it is, but I was curious to see how Matt Damon would redeem himself after his turgid performance in the otherwise excellent ‘Interstellar’ last year. Of course, having read the book by Andy Weir about a year ago, with typical writerly snobbishness I expected to find fault with Ridley Scott’s adaptation, but he nailed it. So you would think that this is starting to sound like a big thumbs-up sorta day in Kaissonville, wouldn’t you? Yes?
I mean, what happened to cinema etiquette? How hard is it to STFU for two and a half hours? Instead of escaping into wonder, I paid $21 to sit directly infront of two old blokes who must have wandered in off the street by mistake — escaped their handlers, I was thinking, listening to their Alzheimer’s bracelets jangling in the dark. One kept declaring “But I don’t like potatoes!” while the other messed with his phone, muttering ‘I can’t see if my phone is on silent!” Had it been a little darker, I might have reached back and punched them both in their urostomy bags. Alternately, I could have moved, I guess, but it is allocated seating and the young lady that comes around with the little flashlight is a bit fierce.
If that wasn’t enough, two rows down and across the aisle from me was a humongous middle-aged woman who sat meekly until the lights dimmed then brought forth so much popcorn, potato chips, soft drink and ice-cream that I thought she must be reserving a row of seats for her hungry family. Nope. She munched and slurped open-mouthed through the whole film, barking ‘Ha!” at incongruous moments not linked to anything happening on-screen. I truly would not have cared if she’d spontaneously died in her seat. I’d certainly have waited until the end of the film to raise the alarm, because the fire brigade would need the jaws-of-life to pry her free, and that would have been noisy.
Instead, I swallowed my rage and concentrated, and pretty soon the only thing that mattered was the story. I, too, wanted to be a space pirate. One of the old men could have peed on my head and I wouldn’t have noticed. It proves that a great book can inspire a great film, or (working backward) that a brilliant film might just have an undiscovered literary masterpiece in the credits. You just have to go look for it. So, going to the movies might in fact lead you to the greatest author you have never read. At the very least, it might inspire you to go home and get back to work on that stalled novel. If Mark Watney can grow potatoes in his own shit on another planet, then I can sit down with a cup of coffee and write another chapter.