Alice Jones: Please don't kill the magic of the movies

 

Share

Last weekend, Matt Pledger went to the cinema. He didn't have a great time. Although there were more staff members than customers, he struggled to get served at the popcorn counter.

Once inside the auditorium, there was no usher to close the door so light streamed in from the foyer while the sound of Bane's laboured breathing bled through the walls from a screening of The Dark Knight Rises next door. To top it off, he had to sit through an advert about piracy, knowing that he had already paid over the odds for his ticket.

I know all about Matt Pledger's below-average night at the cinema because, like hundreds of thousands of others, I read the rant that he posted on Odeon's Facebook page after his visit. "Between us in the group we paid you over £45 so four of us could get the 'cinema experience'," he wrote. "I could go out, buy a DVD, buy a lot of 7UP, buy everyone food and have change for the same price, AND I could watch the DVD over and over to my heart's content… I'm sure I could pay a spotty teenager to ignore me and leave my lounge door open so I at least feel a little like I'm in an Odeon."

By yesterday the post had attracted 190,893 "Likes" and 16,384 comments on Facebook. And he didn't even mention the sticky carpets, stench of stale popcorn or the first circle of multiplex hell – Odeon's booking line – which has honed selective deafness into an art form.

Is Pledger right? Is Odeon killing cinema? Could 200,000 Facebook haters herald the beginning of the end for the multiplex? Not all blockbuster cinemas are as bad as the one Pledger visited, but many are too expensive. At the Odeon in Leicester Square, tickets sell for £22 at peak times. Meanwhile, the model by which cinemas rent films from distributors means that they are forced to sell buckets of 7UP, vats of popcorn and sacks of Minstrels at a mark-up of up to 600 per cent to stay afloat.

Many of the comments beneath Pledger's post question why, in the age of DVDs, internet streaming and 55in home plasma screens, anyone would bother going to the cinema. For the same reason that people go to restaurants, rather than eating at home – the experience. Going to the movies remains one of life's sweetest indulgences – a social occasion without the need for small talk, an opportunity to immerse oneself in another world, while scoffing junk food – for a couple of hours. I'd argue that £10 or thereabouts is a small price to pay for the pleasure but, as with restaurants, there's a sliding scale of experience on offer.

Expecting the personal touch at a multiplex is like hoping for silver service at McDonald's, but there are plenty of other options – smaller, independent and almost always cheaper chains such as Picturehouse, special screenings of classic films, town hall cinema nights, even. Nor is it always Odeon bad, art house good. I've had wonderful experiences in multiplexes and woeful times in fleapits – and vice versa. Surely the making of the films is the difficult bit – showing them should be easy, especially if you stick to this simplest of recipes: decent ticket prices, reasonably sized snacks and, one for audiences, this, absolutely no mobile phones.

Pan-fried piffle

If you have eaten in one of Jamie Oliver's restaurants, you will be familiar with its chummy menu which promises things like the "World's Best Olives" (inexplicably "on ice") and "Posh Chips". Oliver has always shunned the elegant Gallicisms of gastro-speak for his own cor-luv-a-duck vocabulary – wanging stuff in a blitzer until it's pukka, etc. Now it appears that staff at his restaurants are required to do the same.

Last week, a former waitress at a Jamie's Italian posted a photograph from the restaurant's kitchen online. It showed a list of words that staff are apparently asked to use when describing the daily specials to customers. "Proper rustic", "legendary" and "pimp" are all on there. So too "mega", "feel good" and "squeeze".

The knives immediately came out for Oliver, but is the odd contrived geezerism any worse than the pretentious phrases that pepper menus? Many of the best restaurants have learned that simple is best. Too many, though, continue to overegg the pudding with unnecessary descriptions. Top of the list for the chop – "on a bed of", "crushed" vegetables (just mash without the elbow grease) and, most redundant of all, "pan-fried".

Hirst joins the dots

This week on Blue Peter: make your own Tate retrospective! You'll need paints, canvas, media savvy and the backing of a few millionaires. Damien Hirst was a surprising guest on the children's TV programme on Thursday, where he was honoured with a gold badge and in return shared the secrets of some of his most famous works. His spin paintings, it turns out, were inspired by John Noakes demonstrating a technique – "Perfect if you like to paint but you're one of those people who never really know what to draw" – on the show 37 years ago.

Some may read this as the end of the YBAs, the final nail in the coffin of a movement held together by nothing more than hype and sticky-back plastic. But as anyone who has been to Hirst's show at Tate Modern will know, children love his work. They might well be his ideal audience, so perhaps he should be praised for giving them tips as to how to follow in his footsteps. His final piece of advice, however, was plain misleading. "You can give them to your parents and give them to your friends. People appreciate them and put them on the wall." Don't listen, kids! You don't get to be Britain's richest artist by giving your work away.

Twitter: @alicevjones

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Senior Data Scientist (Data Mining, RSPSS, R, AI, CPLEX, SQL)

£60000 - £70000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Senior Data Sc...

Law Costs

Highly Attractive Salary: Austen Lloyd: BRISTOL - This is a very unusual law c...

Junior VB.NET Application Developer (ASP.NET, SQL, Graduate)

£28000 - £30000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Junior VB.NET ...

C# .NET Web Developer (ASP.NET, JavaScript, jQuery, XML, XLST)

£40000 - £50000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# .NET Web De...

Day In a Page

Read Next
The woman featured in the Better Together campaign's latest video  

Tea and no sympathy: The 'Better Together' campaign's mistake is to assume it knows how women think

Jane Merrick
On alert: Security cordons around Cardiff Castle ahead of this week’s Nato summit  

Ukraine crisis: Nato is at a crossroads. Where does it go from here?

Richard Shirreff
The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

The model for a gadget launch

Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

Get well soon, Joan Rivers

She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

A fresh take on an old foe

Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering
Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

As the collections start, fashion editor Alexander Fury finds video and the internet are proving more attractive
Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy

Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall...

... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy
Weekend at the Asylum: Europe's biggest steampunk convention heads to Lincoln

Europe's biggest steampunk convention

Jake Wallis Simons discovers how Victorian ray guns and the martial art of biscuit dunking are precisely what the 21st century needs
Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

Lying is dangerous and unnecessary. A new book explains the strategies needed to avoid it. John Rentoul on the art of 'uncommunication'
Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough? Was the beloved thespian the last of the cross-generation stars?

Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough?

The atomisation of culture means that few of those we regard as stars are universally loved any more, says DJ Taylor
She's dark, sarcastic, and bashes life in Nowheresville ... so how did Kacey Musgraves become country music's hottest new star?

Kacey Musgraves: Nashville's hottest new star

The singer has two Grammys for her first album under her belt and her celebrity fans include Willie Nelson, Ryan Adams and Katy Perry
American soldier-poet Brian Turner reveals the enduring turmoil that inspired his memoir

Soldier-poet Brian Turner on his new memoir

James Kidd meets the prize-winning writer, whose new memoir takes him back to the bloody battles he fought in Iraq
Aston Villa vs Hull match preview: Villa were not surprised that Ron Vlaar was a World Cup star

Villa were not surprised that Vlaar was a World Cup star

Andi Weimann reveals just how good his Dutch teammate really is
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef ekes out his holiday in Italy with divine, simple salads

Bill Granger's simple Italian salads

Our chef presents his own version of Italian dishes, taking in the flavours and produce that inspired him while he was in the country
The Last Word: Tumbleweed through deserted stands and suites at Wembley

The Last Word: Tumbleweed through deserted stands and suites at Wembley

If supporters begin to close bank accounts, switch broadband suppliers or shun satellite sales, their voices will be heard. It’s time for revolution