For many years, I went to the movies at least once a week. Obviously, this set me at a considerable risk of seeing some films I didn't like, and of having to see other films more than once. But there have only been a handful of memorable instances in which I cared so little for a movie that I didn't stay in my seat to the end. These cinema walk-outs have gotten scarcer lately, perhaps because I see fewer movies these days, or perhaps because I have gotten better at spotting what movies I will and won't enjoy.
I nearly made it through Hannibal, the sequel to The Silence of the Lambs. It's not that I thought it was badly made. I just got disgusted with the graphic torture and the gore. I reached a point where I couldn't take any more -- somewhere around the point where Anthony Hopkins was feeding Ray Liotta parts of his own brain. I lingered in the exit, though, and poked my head back in a few minutes later to see Hopkins offering a piece of candied brain to a child. Then I left for good.
I made it through about fifteen minutes each of Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back and The 40-Year-Old Virgin. Both comedies turned out to be so stomach-turningly raunchy that they made me squirm rather than laugh. I remember leaving Jay and Silent Bob with my face hidden, because I was actually afraid that someone I knew would spot me.
When I walked out of In the Cut, a Meg Ryan-Mark Ruffalo neo-noir flick, it was because I hadn't seen a single attractive image in half an hour. All the characters were awful people, everything they did was horrible, and the persistent darkness and grit and grime of the film's look were starting to get me down.
I can only remember walking out of one other movie, but I can't remember the title of it. It was another noir-type flick, sometime around 2000, with an Afro-American cast. Whatever it was, all I needed to see was the opening credits sequence to realize that it was a stinker. "Oy vay," I said to myself over a cheesy sequence of smoking-gun-themed special effects, "this is going to suck." I think the theatre management actually gave me a refund, enabling me to see a movie I really enjoyed.
One of the risks you take by seeing a movie a week is the risk of buying a ticket to a show you know nothing about. It's the kind of risk that has often paid off for me, but my luck isn't infallible. So, in a way, it's a blessing that Hollywood has lost its touch lately. Over the past couple years, weeks and even months have gone by when no film opened that I wanted to see. At first I found this painful, but now I count it a blessing. My film-a-week habit is well broken -- and with it, any likelihood that I'm going to catch myself fleeing one of those atrocious pictures.