Is “cinema rage” the latest symptom of the collapse of civility? For some critics, Trainspotting has been both the nauseatingly impressive revelation of the year and proof that the underclass cannot get much lower. It struck them like a smack in the gob. To me, it was a sort of Clockwork Orange II, in which Stanley Kubrick’s dandyism and Anthony Burgess’s skittish nastiness were replaced by a nihilism which almost dispensed with any notion of decency. The only hopeful sign was that it was brilliantly acted. A sheet full of shite could hardly have been thrown more expertly in the public’s face. Those who want such films not to be made are, I suspect, more often hired enemies of Channel 4 than lovers of the cinema. The cloacal crudeness of Trainspotting is the best thing British cinema has produced in years.
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the screened screams of Scottish yobs are not what I mean by “cinema rage,” which is akin to road rage. The road rager hears a heroic soundtrack in his head and imagines that other people are expendable extras in his private movie. The steel sheath which we command is said to be the reason for our verbose intemperance, but it does generally allow us to keep our obscenities to ourselves.
“Cinema rage” is the fury displayed in cinemas by people whose conduct is in any way criticised by other, as they used to say, patrons. On the whole, people do not smoke when asked not to, but nothing can prevent some of them from talking. Usually these garrulous solipsists sit behind me, but what I am about to recount happened to my son Paul, who is a film producer and, despite his uncreased appearance, a respectable citizen of almost 40 years.
On the penultimate Saturday of August, he and his pregnant wife went to see The Godfather at the Chelsea Cinema. It was a matin?e. As the lights went down, an Important Intellectual and Humanist, with a female companion, chose to sit behind Paul and Jina. An intermittent series of footnotes on the movie ensued. Paul and Jina turned and gave the Humanist the usual pleading glares, without effect. The pundit did not whisper; he talked, not infrequently, in the famous voice. Perhaps he thought it a bonus that so sagacious a commentator should be in the house.
As he left, Paul-who is in no…