Thursday, July 19, 2018

Not coming to a cinema near anybody

When people talk about the experience of going to the movies these days, it's often in fairly negative terms – about how it's a pain in the arse even getting to a theatre; and how they charge way too much for tickets and snacks; and how projection issues fuck everything up; and how other people are noisy, rude and inconsiderate; and why would you even bother when you've got a sweet home theatre set-up in your lounge?

There is a lot of merit to these complaints, and I've had my fair share of movies ruined by all these factors and more – a screening of Blue Velvet that was fatally undercut by a crowd that loudly and ironically cackled at everything, or the time someone was using an iPad to keep track of their internet auctions right through a goddamn Jim Jarmusch movie.

But I still totally believe the best place to see a new movie is at the cinema. I might not worship at the cinematic altar like I once did, but I always want to see as much as I can on the big screen.

I just really wish there was more to see.

I still try to get out to the movies as often as I can, because all the pain is worth it for the perfect screening.

It's a chance to get out of the fucking house and into the world for a while, without having to worry about the niceties of actual social interaction. Movies always look great on the massive screen, and the immersive sound that bounces around the cavernous space of a decent-sized cinema.

And the crowd is always bound to have one arsehole who can't turn off their bloody phone for five minutes, but seeing a thrilling or funny movie in a crowd can be enormously fun when you're syncing in with other peoples' reactions, and the midnight screenings they put on for the latest huge franchise are always dorky as fuck, but there is also always a glorious enthusiasm that can be infectious.

I'm such a superficial motherfucker, one of the things I like best about seeing something in the cinema is that I have to concentrate on what's happening in the story, with no distractions, and nothing to take my mind off the movie. I'm not going to miss anything because I'm eating my dinner, or petting the cat, or checking my emails. I'm only in that moment, blocked away from the rest of the world.

It's part of why people who can't get off their fucking phones are such an affront to all things cinema - all the light pollution is a terrible distraction, bringing a bit of the outside world into the sanctity of the theatre, and should be stamped out with extreme prejudice.

And yet, I'm still only going to only a couple of films a month on average. All that bold talk about the best way to see a movie, and I'm lucky if I see more than two dozen a year.

This is partly because I'm not the young dork I once was. I'm not the same the guy who would see every fucking thing I could, or would go see Twister and the first Mission Impossible film five times each, somewhere in the mid-nineties. (I regret all that Twister a bit, but not the MI. At all.)

I just don't have that appetite for soaking up everything I can, multiple times. Not anymore. There is so much else to do, and so much better things to do with my time.

But maybe I would if there was something actually worth seeing, if there was something with there was something worth the time, money and effort to get into that room.

Instead, there is nothing worthwhile showing up here in this part of the world for weeks. The stuff that actually sounds interesting doesn't come to the cinema or is pissed away on streaming services. Forget about something like Sorry To Bother You, that looks far too interesting for audiences around here.

Even 'arthouse' theatres here in the biggest fucking city in the fucking country are choked with the safest, most generic films, instead of anything that could be the tiniest bit transgressive or provocative or interesting in any way.

All I'm looking for is something that is emotionally or dramatically intense, with a bit of goddamn style. That's all.

Instead, the ones that do come to a theatre anywhere near me are of very little interest - inane blockbusters with cookie-cutter plots, braind-dead and safe comedies, endless goddamn biopics (I don't ever need to see the life story of some munter musician ever again) and a huge amount of movies about middle-aged French people fucking each other.

These films do have an audience, and I'm not demanding that all films cater to my whims, because that's fucking crazy. But it feels increasingly like there is nothing else, and anything that could be genuinely brilliant in drowned in a sea of mediocrity.

Still, it's not all grim. There is the big local film festival coming up over the next couple of weeks, which is always a fun time.

There are still a lot of movies in that line-up that are achingly earnest and worthy, but there is also some sick and strange shit that will be great to see in the theatre, with all the other depraved film fans.

And there is another Mission Impossible coming up soon, and the usual promise of some slick stuntwork. I won't be going back to see it again and again like that previous entry in the series, but you can bet your arse I'll be there opening weekend.

But the rest of the year looks pretty fucking dire, and once I overdose on festival goodness, it could be a long time before I'm back in that dark room, waiting for a decent filmmaker to paint with light.

All I want is style and thrills and tension and intensity. It's what the movies are for and when it comes to experiencing them at their best, nothing else comes close to the cinema.

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