Like the Iraqi journalist who threw his shoes at President Bush, a Philadelphia moviegoer earned instant folk-hero status on Christmas by shooting a viewer who wouldn't shut up during The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.
James Joseph Cialella Jr., 29, allegedly fired one round at an unidentified yakker at a Christmas Day showing of Button. According to reports, Cialella had asked the man and his son to keep quiet; when that failed, Cialella began tossing popcorn at the son. Tempers flared and a confrontation occurred, culminating in the dream of every chat-aggrieved filmgoer alive: Cialella drew a .380 caliber handgun and shot the dad in the arm, soundly ending the family's conversation, scattering other patrons in the crowd, and — perhaps best of all — prompting the gunman back to his seat, where he resumed watching the film in complete, unmolested quiet. For a little while, anyway; police soon hauled Cialella from the Riverview Theatre in handcuffs, later charging him with attempted murder, aggravated assault and weapons violations.
We're no lawyers, but surely we've arrived at a point at which the forcible silencing of chatty theater patrons is as self-defensive as shooting a burglar — particularly when it comes to the exquisite craft of David Fincher, whose reaction to this news no doubt supplanted Button's debut as his "first rimjob" moment. As such, consider this the launch of the Free Cialella campaign. We know tolerating a single act of gun violence can create a slippery slope (shooting your upstairs neighbor who spent the last week rewatching Mamma Mia! at high volume is still not justifiable, alas), but surely some genius defense attorney out there can convince a jury that Cialella was acting on all filmgoers' behalves, and in the interest of cinema in general.
Or, in the instance that he really is just a lunatic, at least get some cultural mileage out of the attack. We could use a hero, batshit South Philly gun-fiend or not.