The "luxury" movie theater

It seems like the colloquial distractions and entertainments that purport to bring us together — the neighborhood bar, the movie theater, the bowling alley, the music festival — are all turning into private salons. The bar becomes the startup bro’s speakeasy, the bowling lanes go boutique and start selling artisanal chili cheese fries, the music festival is sliced and diced into a dozen VIP tiers and “experience” packages, and the moviehouse unveils a “luxury theater” with reserved seating. It’s the poshy living-roomification of public gathering spaces and mass events, where the doors within doors of access and exclusion make the act of going out these days less an excursion into the spirit of the demos than ingress into a self-affirming sampler mix of socioeconomic fraternity. America the beautiful man-cave.
 
At least that’s what my inner pseudointellectual really wants to think until I note that the tickets to movies at the Green Valley’s Galaxy Luxury+ Theatres are the same price as regular movies ... so okay, I’ll shut up. I saw Run All Night Saturday. Went half-mast yuppie with a glass of SeaGlass pinot noir and a gravid, expensive pouch of peanut M&M’s, and electronically reclined my seat aaaaall the way back to savor the thrill of Liam Neeson running, shooting and fighting in what seems like a series of noir, hyperviolent tableaux vivants.
 
I enjoyed it! For a few reasons. The space they have to carve out to accommodate the blocky, cushy reclining seats (comfy, but not soporifically so) reduces the anxious crackling of your preconscious personal-space Geiger counter that’s a subliminal trademark of conventional movie theaters (Is that guy munching popcorn behind me ... increasingly leaning forward? Will the lady in front of me feel the aura of my shoe if I just ... rest my toe on the very back of her armrest? Are those latecomers whom I’m now noting are of above-average height going to sit ... right smack in front of me?). Extra points for serving wine in actual wine glasses, countervailing the infantilizing trend of pouring everything in the world into an insulating childproof sippy cup to keep it safe from lawyers. The insistent, chiding anti-cell phone messaging is ladled on a bit thick, but, still, can’t amen the sentiment enough. And the personal welcome and introduction (and cell phone reminder), complete with corny jokes, by an usher who looks like Jorge Luis Borges is an unexpectedly nice touch. That brings to mind the most pleasing intangible: most corporate movieplexes I frequent seem to be haphazardly stitched together by a skeleton crew of broom-pushing, popcorn-scooping, dead-eyed teens complemented by a few Bill Lumberghs occasionally materializing from behind doors marked PRIVATE. I have absolutely no evidence of this, but my experience at the Green Valley Luxury+ Theatre — from the cherubic (!) bartenders to the snacks hustlers to the ticket-takers to the suit-and-tied Lumbergh who chirpily let us know our theater was clean and ready for our luxuriating — suggested orbit around a unified managerial brain of actual human agency that seemed to want us moviegoers to have a good time. Imagine. If that’s what luxury means in an era when the sausage-grinder of corporate servitude extrudes spiritless service at the other end, I’ll recline and drink to that.  

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