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10 Things Movie Theaters Get Wrong

One of my favorite things about the Manhattan screening rooms where press screenings typically take place is the pitch darkness you fall into before every show. The room dips to an even black — and the best ones are designed thoughtfully enough that you won’t even be distracted by a red “Exit” sign during the show. Also the sound is excellent. Reference-level dynamics might not be everybody’s cup of tea, but there’s a tightness and immediacy to the mix that you just don’t get in a larger room, even when that room is properly tuned up for audio.

Sadly, your average multiplex does not boast particularly good sound — nor even a particularly dark room. I grew up in Colorado, and when I moved to New York in 1994 I noticed a definite uptick in presentation quality in Manhattan theaters, where theater management is likely to be hassled by filmmakers themselves if the specs are out of whack. Of course, New York theaters have their peculiarities, too — unidentifiable odors, radically uncomfortable seats and/or angles of sight, sudden explosions of indecipherable verbalese from the octogenarian gentleman in the back row, and the intermittent but unmistakable rumble of subway cars running underneath the floor.

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Oscar Bombs

728_8-women.jpgAfter seeing The Piano Teacher on Sunday night and the terrific 8 Women on Monday, I’ve decided to call 2002 a wrap and start formulating a top 10 list. I didn’t mean to send off the year with an Isabelle Huppert double-header — didn’t even realize she was in 8 Women when I sat down to watch it — but seeing these two back-to-back really made me appreciate her skills as well as the very different types of performance that Haneke and Ozon elicited from her.

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