"What activity, other than a shooter-drinking contest, is a better first date than going to the movies?"
-- Guy Maddin, writer-director
That quote comes from a fairly recent article about the future of movie theaters from MovieMaker magazine, and after reading it this week, I just had to answer the question. A lot of activities are better first dates than going to the movies, actually. In fact, despite my regular championing of the movie theater in this column, I have to say going to the movies is a terrible first date. One of the worst.
The main reason for this is that it's two hours or so of not talking. That's not a lot in the grand scheme of a relationship, but during a first date it's an eon. After all, a first date should be a time to get to know someone. And this isn't going to happen while sitting silent in the dark for the length of a feature film. I can only hope that nobody ever went on a first date to see Gods and Generals -- that is, unless the couple already knew beforehand that they shared an obsession for civil war reenactments.
Of course, there are a lot of first daters that do talk during the movie. When I went to see The Darjeeling Limited recently there was a couple behind me who tried to get to know each other during the trailers. Basically, the discussion involved him asking if she liked trailers, she admitting that she did like the trailers, and then he claiming the trailers are one of the best things about going to the movies. It's a conversation I'm sure we've all heard countless times before. But then later, during the actual film, he continued to point out things he discovered, as he discovered them. "Oh, this must take place before," he stated to his date halfway through the flashback sequence.