Now in theatres: uppity audiences

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By Kevin Ritchie

Björk fever is sweeping the world like some post-Y2K freak of nature — but not if rich moviegoers have anything to say about it.

While the Icelandic pop singer has been recording 23 years, only now with the release of Dancer in the Dark has she become an event unto herself.

Naturally, Dancer is playing exclusively at the Cumberland movie theatre in the heart of Yorkville, crusty nouveau-riche, white-people-central.  And why shouldn’t it?  One need a certain ambiance to enjoy a revisionist musical starring Björk — and the gaudy Paramount, the trashy Carleton and the kooky Bloor Cinema just won’t do.  One must ponder artwork, not movie posters.  One must have a membership so one feels like one belongs to something others do not.  One must watch trailers for the National Post, not Reese’s Pieces.

The movie is a musical directed by Lars Von Trier, famous for allowing bad things to happen to good people.  Björk plays Selma, a Czech immigrant in Washington State who slaves away in a sink factory to save money for her son’s operation.  Von Trier’s starkly grey countryside comes alive whenever Selma fantasizes her life is a musical and everyone around her bursts into cheesy dance routines.

At first, it sickened me that such a beloved member of my record collection — I own 25 Björk CDs, including the $45 Japanese import soundtrack to Dancer in the Dark — could be used as a means for a director to impose his useless ideals on everyone else in the audience.

So you can imagine the moment when I discovered that Dancer in the Dark had surpassed Showgirls as my favourite movie.  I cried three times.

In attempting to re-live that moment at a second screening, I found myself once again enraptured with Björk’s heartbreaking performance.  But about 15 minutes before the movie ended, a sudden musical outburst from Selma prompted the woman in front of me to storm out in a huff.  “I am leaving!” she said loud enough for everyone around her to hear.  “This movie is sick!”

Please, I’m trying to wallow in the misery of a fictional character.  Get the fuck over yourself.  The rest of us braved Yorkville, with its designer dress shops for 12-year-olds, the stupidest fucking rock in the city and Sassafraz so Björk could capture our hearts, and this woman is having a mini-conniption over a musical.  Worse, she’s letting everyone know about it.  Why do people do that?  This only happens to me at the Cumberland.

Further ahead of me another woman sighed loudly, shifted her position constantly and laughed at Björk!  I hate audience members who walk out conspicuously.

How bored are you that you have nothing better to do than pay $7 for a matinee you can annoy everyone around you and then walk out so close to the end?  It’s because you can’t handle watching a woman with a hard life attempt to escape her suffering while you do colonics and sniff bath beads.

Can’t these people sit in the dark for two-and-a-half-hours and not be the centre of attention?  Is my emotional reaction, albeit lame as it is, to be compromised by you declaration of disgust?

This is a musical — they’re supposed to sing and dance.  Or maybe I’m just sick for loving that so much.

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