The Rundown is a weekly column that highlights some of the biggest, weirdest, and most notable events of the week in entertainment. The number of items will vary, as will the subject matter. It will not always make a ton of sense. Some items might not even be about entertainment, to be honest, or from this week. The important thing is that it’s Friday and we are here to have some fun.
ITEM NUMBER ONE — Where you sittin’?
I saw movies in the theater the last two weekends, Once Upon a Time… In America two weeks ago and Hobbs & Shaw last week. For the first one, I sat in the front row. For the second, I sat all the way in the back. My reasons for doing this had less to do with personal preference than lack of options (I use a wheelchair and that’s where the accessible seats were in the respective theaters), but the two seating extremes provided two different experiences and got me thinking: what’s the best seat in a movie theater?
Most of it boils down to personal preference, I guess. If given the choice, I’d probably sit in the middle of the back row every time. I’m a back row guy, in general. I sat in the back of the classroom in school, too. I like having the whole room in front of me. It makes me feel like a spy, scanning the area for threats and knowing no one can sneak up on me. Plus, a lot of times, the back row is mostly empty and near the exit. That’s important. Crowds are bad. Leave me alone.
I will admit, though, that the closer seats provide a more immersive experience. There’s nothing between you and the screen to distract you. Nobody walking in front of you to go to the bathroom during the movie, no phone screens lighting up and catching the corner of your eye. And it’s all a little more manageable now that most theaters keep the front row a little further back than they used to. Did you ever get caught in the dead front of an older theater? That was awful. You’d just crane your head back like a Pez dispenser and hope the movie ended before all the muscles in your neck seized up. They should have sold ibuprofen and heating pads at the concession stand. Yes, I’m very young and cool.
(Related: You know how newer theaters with stadium seating sometimes have three or four rows in a little lowered section in front of the front row? What the hell is up with those seats? Have you ever in your entire life seen anyone sit there? I suppose they exist for emergency spillover when a movie is sold out but, even then, I think I would rather just skip the movie than sit directly under the screen. I don’t even know how I’d react if I saw someone sitting there in a theater with other empty seats. I’d be so suspicious. Another point in favor of sitting in the back. Get a bird’s eye of that creep.)
I asked a few other members of the Uproxx staff what their favorite seat in a movie theater is, just to be journalistic about the whole thing. Brett Michael Dykes, our EIC, likes to sit up front, mainly because he’s very tall and can spread his legs out. Kimberly Ricci says she likes middle row, middle seat, but only if it’s one of those theaters with an open row in front to separate sections. Mike Ryan said, “On an aisle away from as many human beings as possible,” which I can dig for the easy exit angle. And Vince Mancini said, “I like to put my feet up on the rail but being far from other people takes precedence over other considerations.”
I suppose the takeaway away here — between me in the back row and my colleagues sitting off by themselves near an exit — is that where you sit matters less than what’s around you. I think I’d still sit in the back in an empty theater, though. You’re not getting the drop on me. Not this time, buddy.
ITEM NUMBER TWO — Woody and Nic, together at last (kind of)
This Wednesday was my birthday, which was strange because my birthday is technically in March. But I don’t know how else to explain the world gifting me an interview with Nicolas Cage and a profile of Woody Harrelson before noon on the same day so, like, it must have been my birthday. Maybe I’ve been wrong about it my entire life. It’s very unsettling, in a way. I feel like I’ve been lied to. It would bother me more if I weren’t about to drop two mindblowing blockquotes on you. You won’t even believe it.
Cage first. David Marchese of The New York Times — on the shortlist of greatest living interviewers — sat down with the star of Face/Off and hundreds of other movies for an interview that touched on everything. Everything. Stolen dinosaur skulls, karaoke, financial troubles, his mausoleum in New Orleans, his real and actual search for the real and actual Holy Grail, everything. You must read it if you haven’t.
Here’s my favorite part. It’s so perfectly Cage.
I did have two king cobras, and they were not happy. They would try to hypnotize me by showing me their backs, and then they’d lunge at me. After I told that story on “Letterman,” the neighborhood wasn’t too pleased that I had cobras, so I had them re-homed in a zoo. The cat — a friend of mine gave me this bag of mushrooms, and my cat would go in my refrigerator and grab it, almost like he knew what it was. He loved it. Then I started going, “I guess I’ll do it.” It was a peaceful and beautiful experience. But I subsequently threw them out.
I could ask questions about this for hours (HOW DID THE CAT OPEN THE REFRIGERATOR?), but why? Why nitpick perfection? Let’s just let that exist as-is in the world and move along. It’s too beautiful to ruin.
And when we move along, we can move along to this: a truly delightful profile of Woody Harrelson in Esquire. It’s exactly what you want it to be. You must read this, too. I could highlight ten different parts of it but let’s go with this.
“See, everybody thinks of Willie as a model of progressive thinking and virtue, and he is, but he’s also got an evil side. Eee-vil. Now, Willie never felt too good about me quitting. And he kept trying to get me to not quit. We’d be playing poker and he’d pass me a vape pen, and I’d say, ‘Willie, man, I don’t do that anymore.’ And he’d act surprised, like it was news to him—every time, just as surprised as he could be. Then we were in Maui, and you know the whole reason I’m in Maui in the first place is Willie. Yeah, I went and saw one of his shows a number of years ago. I wanted to meet him. So afterward, I went to his bus and knocked on the door, and the door opened, and smoke was billowing out, and I look through the haze and I see this fellow with long hair holding a big old fatty, and he says, ‘Let’s burn one.’ And I know right away that he’s going to be a friend for life. He told me he had a place in Maui and to come on out, and that’s how I just sort of ended up there. Anyway, Willie passed me the pen after I’d won this huge pot. I was in a celebrating mood, so I snatched the pen from him and took a long draw. And Willie smiled at me and said, ‘Welcome home, son.’ ”
How much would you pay for a single hour-long podcast where Woody Harrelson and Nic Cage talk to each other and tell stories? I’ll go as high as $10. I’ll go up to $25 if they get McConaughey and Tracy Morgan in there, too. Standing offer.