It was the best of films, it was the worst of films.
Eyes Wide Shut had premiered in Aberdeen to a fairly Scottish response, i.e. watched by an average of three men in raincoats. I know what you’re thinking but no lewdness occurred. I said these men were old, and some were probably lonely. But even they were not that desperate.
What's it about? Well, from what I can gather it's about Tom Cruise being unable to accept that hookers don't want to sleep with him, and Nicole Kidman being unable to accept that she's married to Tom Cruise. There's some old dudes too and a bit of an orgy but it's not like it really matters; and anyway, you know a movie's bad when it features a Chris Isaak song but it's not Wicked Game.
I snuck in at least five people into other movies, such was their dissatisfaction with this hardcore yawn. Some saw Deep Blue Sea (I’ll save you the trouble: the shark did it.) Others watched Richard Gere play a doofus, reporter Ike Graham, in the movie Runaway Bride, and were then snuck into The Thomas Crown Affair thanks to Gere answering machine zingers, like, ‘Leave me a message. If you want to send me a fax, buy me a fax machine.’
The Blair Witch Project made its Scottish debut in this cinema, and was popular until people watched it, and by the end were rooting for the witch. I made my cinema nachos debut, and can categorically say that they tasted like sacks of wheat soaked in cat yak. And as for the hot dogs, the less said the better.
But we ushered because that’s what ushers do: they wander into cinemas, watch the screen for like ten seconds, and then make a face like they’ve forgotten to go toilet. We ushered, night and day, because it’s not easy to wear black pants, sweep up popcorn, or say, ‘Yes, the film's quite good.’
Because the movies were never great. They weren’t bad, more mild drops of ‘bleh’ in an ocean of ‘whatever.’ They were the water crackers of the savoury world, the Nice biscuits you throw out because you can't bear to eat them.
And I know, you’ve heard this all about ushers, not least in my critically ignored biography trilogy about my time working in cinema: His Name Was I Don’t Know, Did You Eat All The Popcorn? and Why Is LL Cool J Playing A Chef When He Can Barely Make An Omelette? The thing you don’t know about ushering, however, is that it’s a hotbed of sexual tension.
I loved Elisia, Elisia loved Albert, and everybody loved Amber (not a real name amongst them,) despite the fact that Amber thought it was a great idea to sunbathe on the roof of the cinema, in a city so cold that even the mars bars were deep-fried.
No one loved the old dude who ripped the ticket stubs. People can be cruel, and tougher than the buns they use for the hot dogs in Aberdeen cinemas.
On the one ocassion I took Elisia out for a drink, she talked exclusively about Albert. I didn’t mind because being around her was like being around a foal, or Fallow deer. You’d often stare in awe at her beauty, then giggle, like you do when a foxy deer tells a particularly good joke.
On my last shift, I walked up to her, thinking this is it, and then said:
‘The Hot Dog roller is bust. Steve thinks it’s clagged up with bits of cheese from the Kasekrainer.’
She didn’t pledge her undying love for me then, or when I told her that the post-mix was out. She did kiss me once, on the cheek, when I told her that Albert was a toss-walla and that one day she’d find someone who could see she was as pretty as the Isle of Skye and way less bumpy.
We’re now continents apart. But, whenever it’s cold here in Perth, like eff-off freezing, I walk outside and hear the word ‘Elisia.' And then I go inside because I can, and freezing in Perth is like ‘summer’ in Scotland anyway, it’s 20-25 degrees, so what am I going to do, wear trousers and pretend?
As for Eyes Wide Shut, it’s an excellent film…if you’re looking for a DVD to throw into a pond, or break in half and say, ‘Aargh!’ to prove a point. As movies go, however, it’s a snorer, a borer and one to ignore (er.)
NOTE: Eyes Wide Shut may be a good movie if you go into it with the right frame of mind. So, if you have three hours but want them to feel like fifty-six, you know where to go.