The rumors are true: Shia LaBeouf is currently holed up in the bowels of Angelika Film Center, where over 70 people are lined up waiting for the opportunity to watch Nymphomaniac with him. The line has steadily grown since I showed up to his #AllMyFilms “performance” around 3:20 p.m., when there were just a few dozen stalkers patrons of the arts queued up.
Earlier this drizzly afternoon, the wait was about half an hour — which proved too long for the guy behind me. “If I come back at 6am, will he still be here?” he asked an Angelika staffer. The kid was informed that, indeed, LaBeouf plans to watch nearly all of his films, back to back, in reverse chronological order, now through Thursday morning. (You can peep the schedule here.)
“Forget it, then I’m coming back at 6am.”
Personally, I was determined to wait it out, because watching Shia LaBeouf watching Shia in the buff seemed much more voyeuristically appealing than watching him watch Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen.
So, I grinned and beared it as an Angelika employee checked my ID and told me they’d be letting one person in for every person out. He also told me I’d get booted if I used a cellphone or took photos.
When I finally made it downstairs, a guard scanned me with a metal detector and let me into the theater. I could tell where Shia was because he was wearing a paper bag over his head there was a camera rigged in front of a guy with a prominent beard. My seat was a couple rows in front of him, which meant I couldn’t ogle him without conspicuously craning my neck — something I was either too respectful or too cowardly to do.
Others, meanwhile, looked back every time a bottle rolled on the floor or someone shuffled out of their seat. They slyly pretended they were curious about the disruption when really they just wanted to gaze upon Shia as he partook in what was either an act of extreme narcissism, an exercise in masochism, yet another James Franco-esque meta experiment, a gift to his fans, a warm-up for the absurdity of the Republican debates, or maybe all of the above. (Either way, entry to the movies is mercifully free.)
As for Nymphomaniac, I don’t remember the audience chortling so hard the first time I saw it. It seemed like Shia’s presence really helped people see (or pretend to see) the humor in a restaurant patron stuffing multiple spoons up herself. People were generally well-behaved: nobody yelled out “Just do it!” during Shia’s nude sex scenes, and nobody grabbed his ass as if at a performance of Cabaret. Soon after Von Trier’s digital insertion/”silent duck” joke, I realized that watching the livestream would probably be more entertaining, so I joined the folks who were, well, ducking out every 15 minutes or so. But here I am at Angelika’s cafe and the stream seems to be down (Update: as of 7pm it’s back up). And there’s no way I’m getting back into the theater — as people get out of work, the line is growing exponentially.
In case you’re wondering whether La Beouf is “aware of how crazy this whole thing is,” why yes, yes he is.