So this was my first experience at a Dutch cinema, and whilst I appreciate that this experience – Thursday night, mainstream cinema, blockbuster film – will be different to most of my cinema experiences – afternoon showings, non-action films – it was a bit of an eye-opener.
The first thing I noticed as I found my place in the packed auditorium was that people are allowed to drink alcohol in Dutch cinemas. (Or at least, in the one I was one.) This has – according to my experience last night – three distinct consequences:
* Increased noise. I thought at first the popping was champagne bottles and I wondered if maybe I’d accidentally wandered into the Bullingdon Club’s annual cinema outing, but then I realised it was merely the popping of bottled Grolsch. And there was quite a lot of it. At one point in a lull in the film action, three loud comedy pops went off in very quick succession, within half a second, resulting in a ripple of appreciative laughter from the mostly unperturbed audience. Then there’s the noise of bottle-on-glass clinkage, booze being poured or glugged and glasses and bottles being sporadically kicked over.
* Increased toilet activity, particularly towards the end of the film, during the film’s most climactic, edge-of-seat, please-don’t-walk-in-front-of-me-now-you-inconsiderate-fuck scenes.
* Increased drunkenness throughout. I happened to sit down next to one particularly vocal drunken man who had no qualms about talking to his partner pretty loudly. I waited before I said anything. There was a chance, I thought, that maybe this was just the Dutch way – maybe it’s perfectly OK to talk in Dutch cinemas, maybe if I shushed him, the whole audience would turn on me in a fury, demanding to know who the hell I think I am. ‘How dare you infringe upon this man’s right to chat through a film?’ So I waited till someone else shushed him. Then when he carried on blathering, I laid my hand on his shoulder and whispered softly but with a hiss, ‘YOU WILL DIE!”
No, I didn’t really. I didn’t need to. He was immediately very apologetic and kept his chitchat to a minimum afterwards. Which was still quite irritating but I was in a forgiving mood and let’s face it, I was only there to watch a cartoon.
So to the film. Jason Bourne. Rambo in a Tommy Hilfiger jacket.
I was persuaded to see the other Bourne films five years or so ago and I was surprised by how much I enjoyed them. In my memory they seem – as well as genuinely exciting – quite serious studies of a tortured man and various corrupt government bodies. But either my memory is deceiving me, or the new one is a lot less serious.
I found pretty much the whole film very, very silly indeed. I just kept thinking all the way through, ‘But how…?’ and ‘But why….?’ and then I had to keep reminding myself again and again, ‘Because it’s a cartoon. It’s not a serious film. It’s not responsible story-telling.’
So it was fairly enjoyable in the way that popcorn can be fairly enjoyable as long as you’re getting your nutrition from elsewhere. Mostly fun, but also sometimes really quite annoying.
Like the combat scenes, for example, and many of the action scenes in general. For me, they become very tedious when the cutting is so fast that you can’t really see anything. I know I probably sound like a very old man here and this may be the cinematic equivalent of saying ‘You can’t even understand what they’re singing these days’, but so be it. I stand by it.
There are also far too many of those shots where it feels like the camera has been placed in a transparent plastic bag and then spun around really quickly. These will just be cut into the middle of a fight or riot scene to add to the feelings of chaos.
Oh, and also:
* lots of the dialogue was so utterly ridiculous as to be positively comic
* the goodness and badness of the goodies and baddies was pantomimesque to the extent that all Vincent Cassel’s character lacked was a twirly moustache and a necklace of kitten skulls
* the Mark Zuckerberg character, when he talked about internet stuff, was about as convincing as my mum talking about internet stuff.
But I did enjoy my first Dutch cinema experience, on the whole, even though the film was thoroughly ridiculous, and the Code of Conduct was pretty much universally ignored. (A phone even went off at one point. I ask you.)
Next time I’ll go see something less stupid.