The Emperor had his box in the Colosseum to watch the gladiators fight; he saw the same spectacle as everyone else, but he wasn’t down there with the plebs. Tickets with the masses weren’t appealing, he watched from an exalted perch, bowls of grapes at an arm’s reach, surrounded by nobles and gentry. When I went to Rome the Colosseum was a wreck, but society has caught up.
Not willing to wait until 9:30 for a regular session, we went all out and got tickets to an 8:45 screening in GOLD CLASS. It didn’t matter what movie we saw (it was ‘The Judge’) because we were watching it in the plush comfort and luxury reserved for the corporate elite, awkward first dates and minor celebrities you sort of kind of recognise from that show Channel 10 cancelled a while back.
We walked in through the glass doors to GOLD CLASS; to the lounge I had only glimpsed before; to a well-lit room, where I half expected to see David Stratton leaning against the bar, churning a gin and tonic, chatting to fellow movie-goers half his age about the time he met Ingrid Bergman. We approached the bar and were given a menu, a special menu, with cocktails named after very well-known movies – it wasn’t just a strawberry daiquiri, we were offered things like a Casablanca strawberry daiquiri, or a Raging Bull vodka lime and soda.
Finally, going into the GOLD CLASS cinema, we found we could recline in our armchairs for extreme comfort, the same comfort you get watching a movie at home, except you get to pay extra to sit in a dark room surrounded by strangers, like you, for whom Vmax and Xtremescreen just aren’t good enough.
As for the movie, ‘The Judge’ features prodigal son and crack attorney Hank Palmer (Robert Downey Jr) returning to the small town he grew up in following his mother’s death, dreading the inevitable meeting with his estranged father and local judge (Robert Duvall), only to find himself defending his father after he is indicted for murder… did I mention we were in GOLD CLASS?
Somewhere around this point in the movie the waiter brought out the dessert platter, and while still interested in a well-acted and thoroughly entertaining family/small-town drama, my attention was really taken up by the conveniently placed churros, fudge brownies, sundae and belgian waffle smothered in chocolate.
Supporting actors Vincent D’onofrio as brother Glen Palmer, Billy Bob Thornton as the prosecutor and high-school girlfriend Vera Farmiga (of ‘Up in the Air’ fame) rounded out a solid cast; a comfortable two hours was spent with the greatest draw being the two leads playing off each other both convincingly and emotively.
Watching this, sipping my Maltese Falcon mojito, I couldn’t help wondering if the patrons in cinemas 1-12 where watching a lesser version of ‘The Judge,’ with some of its so many good bits edited out, for the exclusive viewing pleasure of those not content to be one of the many, where film is not an art form for mass consumption, for those who want, and need, something better.
Not everyone can watch from the Emperor’s box, and as I left GOLD CLASS, walking outside with everyone else, I thought to ask those leaving a regular session if they had enjoyed, or even seen the same movie I had? But then we don’t talk to plebs.