By Dom Cioffi
When you go to the movies every week for 20+ years, you’re going to see some interesting things.
I’ve witnessed inebriation on all levels and in all ages. I’ve seen food fights erupt between unruly teenagers. I’ve even helped break up a brawl between two patrons.
Because I’m at the theater so often, I regard the institution as a bit of a second home and therefore have come to expect a level of respectable behavior from myself and others. Subsequently, if I feel the environment is being compromised, I have no qualms about speaking up.
Unfortunately, one of those unacceptable scenarios crept up this past week.
I entered the theater, and as is customary, immediately headed for my go-to spot, which is front and center, no more than a third of the way back – preferably with plenty of empty seats around me. This can be a popular spot for many patrons, but since I screen my films on off days and off hours, I can generally have my pick of seats.
A little while later as the trailers were wrapping up, another gentleman about my age and stature entered the theater and sat four chairs away from me in my row on the very end seat. I gave him the customary glance as he settled in and then refocused my attention toward the screen.
About ten minutes into the film, as the story was beginning to unfold, I caught sight of a bright light off to my left. I instinctively glanced over to see the gentleman next to me eyeballing his smartphone. I assumed he forgot to turn off the ringer so I thought nothing of it and again turned my attention back to the screen.
Eventually he finished tapping on the screen and the light subsequently dimmed.
About fifteen minutes later he again reached for his smartphone and began tapping away. And again I looked over, this time long enough to see that he was indeed texting as both thumbs were prancing about vigorously.
This is when my irritation officially started. However, I combated the negativity with the empathetic thought that it might be his child or aging mother texting him because of something important. I mean, I’ve been in those situations.
What got to me wasn’t so much that he was answering the texts, but that he was doing it without regard to the blast of light that was streaming from his lap. At no point did he try to hide the fact that he was texting, not did he attempt to obscure the light while he did it.
And in my mind, that is straight-up rude.
This went on throughout the film and each time he pulled up his phone, I either swung my head around or abruptly cleared my throat hoping he would look in my direction and realize the error of his ways. No such luck.
I finally decided that I was through being nice; my subtle innuendos were ineffective. I quickly reviewed the scenario in my mind just to make sure I was in fact justified to say something. All signs pointed to me being absolutely in the right so I made a commitment that I would say something the next time his phone lit up.
About five minutes later it happened. And as soon as the light appeared, I swung around in my seat, opened my mouth, and began to speak. But before I could get a word out, I saw a shadowy figure standing next to the man.
It was tough to tell in the darkness of the theater, but the guy looked to be fairly large, not only in height but in girth. And the deep voice that punctuated the quiet of the theater made him sound all the more intimidating.
“Turn your phone on one more time and you’ll need a new one,” the guy said pointedly. He then sat back down two rows behind him. Just then three or four other people acknowledged their approval with adamant “Thank you’s!” (apparently I wasn’t the only one bothered by the irritating light).
Needless to say, that phone never left the guy’s pocket after that and when the credits rolled, he couldn’t have run out of the theater any faster.
The individuals featured in this week’s film wish they could have run out of the situation they found themselves in on September 11, 2012. Unfortunately, there wasn’t a chance.
Based on the true story and best selling book, “13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi” recalls the terrorist attacks in Libya where six members of a hired security team fought to protect an American diplomatic compound.
If you’re interested in the events that took place during that fateful night in 2012, definitely give this film a try. Just be prepared for a highly-charged, military-styled drama devoid of any political perspective. This is a story about what happened, not about why it happened.
A chaotic “C+” for “13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi.”