Tuesday, August 17, 1999

Movie Review: The Sixth Sense

I'm 24 years old. I'm college educated. I was raised by a family that was never too strict, but never too lenient either. Somehow between their gentle instruction, school, and general common sense, I became a well-mannered and conscientious young adult. Really. Which brings me to the question: what the fuck is wrong with everyone else? When I go to a movie theater, I expect to sit in a quiet dark room with a hundred or more other people in the mass collective experience that is movie-watching. The key word in that previous sentence is "quiet." Which means: no cell phones, no talking, and no, repeat: NO, babies.

Now don't get me wrong: I love babies just as much as the next guy, provided that guy is not a cannibal or a freaky pedophile. But a movie theater is no place for one. You can see what I'm getting at and I'm sure you all have baby/theater stories of your own. Why does this happen? I think that it should be theater policy to not allow babies. If someone shows up with a baby, they should not be sold a ticket. If they already have a ticket, the ticket-taker should not allow them in. This is why God invented babysitters.

By now you realize that there was a baby in the theater when I went to see The Sixth Sense. The little bundle of joy blessed us movie-goers with a constant screaming and crying, but luckily its parents brought along a music-making toy(!!!) to placate their spawn. It got so bad at one point that a man (at wit's end) yelled, "GET THAT BABY OUT OF HERE!!" which was echoed by several other frazzled audience members. The father (I assume) yelled back, "Yeah, wait until you have children!!" (Like that was an excuse to bring his screaming child to a movie and never once take it out to the lobby when it started screaming). The wit's-end guy screamed back, "I've got three kids - and I had the good sense to leave them AT HOME!" The altercation ended there, but the baby stayed. And cried. Some people got up and left, mumbling about getting a refund as they shuffled up the aisle.

Is this what American society is coming to? Is everyone so self-absorbed that they have ceased entirely in having regard for others? Have we become so wrapped up in our own lives that we fail to notice that other people also inhabit the world? It's not just movie theaters either. I ride the subway to and from work every day, and on the subway are poles that people can hold on to so they don't topple over when the train turns or stops or goes. Quite often, someone will lean their entire body up against the pole, effectively preventing anyone else from utilizing it for balance. What is that? Doesn't the thought ever cross their minds that maybe, just maybe, the pole is for more people than just them? Somewhere - everywhere - behavior like this is occurring, unabated. And it will only get worse as people become more and more oblivious to others.

Oh yeah, The Sixth Sense was pretty good. A creepy, moody, slow-moving, ambient thriller about a boy who claims to see dead people and a child psychologist who tries to help him. Wonderfully subdued acting, directing, photography. I really miss slow-paced movies in today's cinematic world of MTV editing and instant-gratification action and horror movies. Slow pacing allows you to build to something, instead of being at a constantly frenetic speed. The action is a pay-off when you build to it, instead of just being action for action's sake. You get more character development, more mood establishment, more thoughtfulness, more thematic content. Maybe this is why audiences have become the way they are: they are expecting instant eye (and ear) candy, as opposed to a thoughtful examination of characters and story. Whatever. If that describes you, don't see The Sixth Sense; it's too intelligent for you. Go see Wild Wild West or re-rent Armageddon. But for those of you who miss good movies, see this one.

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