Mr. Columnist himself presents weekly analysis and tips.

Moderators: Buscemi, BarcaRulz, Geezer, W

Post Reply
User avatar
James Bond
Posts: 10814
Joined: October 21st, 2009, 2:34 pm


Post by numbersix »

No new releases are coming out this weekend, as theatres around the US (and the world) close this week to combat the over-rated-Mexican-beer-virus that’s sweeping the world faster than that pic of Kim Kardashian’s butt.

While it’s important we all do our bit to ensure health services don’t overload and break down, we also must bear in mind that once this blows over, we could see less cinemas around the world, while VOD platforms dominate. So I figured I would give a personal journey through my own history with the room containing the big screen.

1: First Times

Okay, I’d be lying if I knew exactly what happened when I first sat down for a feature film. Mostly it was probably to shut me up as my poor parents struggled to deal with 3 boys in an era where a smart phone was something with buttons rather than a ring. From what I can recall, it was 1986’s Flight of the Navigator (released in Ireland in 1987). There was no cinema in my home town, and the culture of driving miles on highways didn’t exist the way it does in Ireland. Mostly because we don’t have any highways. So a journey to the cinema was a rare treat. Despite being only a few miles away, it actually took nearly 2 hours to make it to the closest city, the coastal metropolis (of 200,000) that was Galway. It was there I had my first Big Mac, played Streetfighter 2 for the first time, went to my first proper gig, and spent a day there pretending to look at prospective universities while actually getting drunk in a park. Not on the same day, of course. In 87, I recall the small theatre, the thick carpets, and of course that popcorn smell. The film I have only vague memories of, bursts of imagery. But it’s the magic of being engrossed in an atmosphere, immersed in a world, that I’ll never forget.

2: When you Gotta Go, you Gotta Go

Well, this is pretty embarrassing. But it can’t all be self-aggrandising attempts to detail my past as if I’m a celebrity. It was July 1993, and time for a summer holiday with my folks. My brothers were too old, so it was just me and my folks on a trip to camp sites in Northern France. First port of call was Dublin, where we spent a night in my uncle’s house before boarding the battered ferry to the land of fromage. By then I was obsessed with dinosaurs, having collected weekly magazines about the beasts and then having read Crichton’s book. When in Dublin, my folks insisted we didn’t have time to go to the cinema, and so I would miss my only opportunity to see Jurassic Park on the big screen. So I spent the whole night crying and whimpering to myself until eventually they caved in. I was 10 at the time. Fucking 10. Not 5, when tantrums like this were to be expected. Still, it worked, and now any obstacle I meet in life is now combatted by waterworks and wailing. Lesson learned.

3: If You Build It…

So finally in the 90s my town got a cinema. It was a room on top of a small shopping mall. You had to walk up what was essentially a fire exit to get there, and the seats were the kind of old wooden ones you’d get in old drama theatres. Yet I couldn’t complain. It was here that we got the Star Wars re-releases. It was also around this time that I discovered cinema beyond the mainstream, thanks to the likes of Tarantino and the Coens. So that rickety old theatre became a temple of worship. Until it was torn down within 2 years. So when we wanted to see Jackie Brown, Alien Resurrection, and even Titanic, we had to be bundled into a car and shipped to a nearby town (the very place Kanye and Kim went on their honeymoon, no less!) for our film fix. Some of the best experiences were when we took the train to Dublin, the booming metropolis that it was, to see special screenings and indie releases. Seeing The Exorcist for its first release after being banned in my country for 20 years was pretty special, even if the crowd was full of (secretly nervous) gigglers. Or watching The Big Lebowski for the first time. But despite this at least there was a cinema in our town. Finally.

4: Date Movie

I met a girl online, something that was frowned on at the time, but now is considered the norm. At the age of 18 I snuck off to Europe, first to Spain and then to Portugal, telling no one the full story, in order to meet her. Fortunately, she didn’t turn out to be a fat hairy man, but indeed a rather nice person. Also fortunate is that she endured my obsession for cinema and even when first hanging out and seeing movies. And the first film we saw together? Breaking the Waves. Lars Von Trier’s painful exploration of the mental and physical abuse a simple Scottish women goes through. Not exactly the most romantic film I’ve ever taken someone to. But, somehow she wasn’t terrified of the experience and we’re somehow still together, nearly 20 years later, and still going to the movies on a nearly weekly basis.

5: Rigging the System

Living and working in Dublin in my 20s brought lots of opportunities to hit the cinema. Around the mid noughties a Cineworld in the city centre started introducing membership - €20 for unlimited screenings or something like that. I, however, came up with my own membership. I realised that a ticket to a movie before noon on a Sunday was really cheap (something like €4). So every second Sunday I’d drag my poor wife up early in the morning, hop on a bus to the city centre, grabbing a sandwich on the way, and we’d pay for the first film, and then sneak into a second. 2 movies for €4 ain’t bad value. I did this for a few years, only stopping when my tastes turned more indie and I realised socialising on a Saturday night was better for me than getting up early on the Lord’s Day. I even pushed my system to the extreme. One day myself and 3 friends got tickets on a weekday morning, paid for the first screening, and saw three more, and were only defied a fifth because there was a staff member checking tickets for Mystic River. That day I realised that spending 9 hours in a multiplex is not healthy.

One time I went to see Walk the Line, but there was a fire alarm and the screening was cancelled. The cinema gave everyone a voucher for another film. But the voucher was just a piece of paper. So of course I photocopied it and went to see movies for free for about two months, until staff finally caught on.

These days it’s easier to wait for a digital download, or an illegal one, although interestingly enough since I started downloading movies I’ve actually been seeing more films in the cinema. That should please the judge, at least.

6: Festival Fun

More recently, I’ve made movies a career and not just a hobby. That comes with pros and cons. With the latter the magic of cinema is lessened a little as you understand how things re made, and more importantly how obnoxious most of the people behind it truly are. But there are benefits, including attending film festivals. I’ve got to Cannes, Berlin, and the London Film Festival every year, I’ve been to TIFF once, and some more regional festivals too. I’ve got to meet some important people and form friendships with likeminded fools like myself who think they can earn money doing this. And I also get to discover films before the buzz and the spoilers tarnish them. Cannes is crazy, especially when you have to queue for at least 90 minutes in hope of seeing something. I’ve missed out a few times. But I’ve also made it. I got to see the first screening of Raw, of It Follows (and befriended its producer), The Lighthouse, Killing them Softly. Seeing Sicario without knowing anything about it was an incredible experience. Trying to see Green Room and getting the last two seats for myself and Chien was a triumph in itself, although the movie was pretty good too.

I’ve also a little glee in me whenever my name comes up on the big screen, whether it’s a short film or a feature. And most recently I got my first single-card credit, which is nice. It’s for the upcoming feature ROSE PLAYS JULIE. Here’s the trailer

I’m sure you’ve all had some amazing experiences at a cinema, so bear that in mind when this virus cools off and we have to deal with the economic fallout. Become a member at your local cinema, go there often, appreciate that all-absorbing experience of seeing a film in a dark room with a huge screen and surround sound. Netflix can wait until the next global pandemic.

User avatar
Maximus Decimus Meridius
Posts: 4280
Joined: July 25th, 2017, 9:13 pm
Location: Neither here nor there.


Post by Buscemi2 »

So I see you're following on my idea for my next column, which is good. Less complaining, more waxing nostalgia.

My first movie in the theatre was Beauty and the Beast but my first movie theatre memory was Don Bluth's Thumbelina. My grandmother had to take me out of the theatre because I wouldn't stop crying (I didn't even want to see the movie, I wanted to see Brainscan but I was much too young).

First movie I ever saw in a theatre on vacation was Inspector Gadget at one of the first megaplexes in the world, the Ward Parkway 22 (now 14) in Kansas City. I'm sorry that I made my uncle, a now-retired detective, sit through that one.

My suburb was supposed to get a theatre in the late 2000's but it was never built as the ground wasn't stable. Instead, a theatre they already opened was expanded and the next town got a theatre with dining and alcohol options. I've seen a few movies there but I prefer to go to the other theatres in my metro.

I'm not interested in people that much but I still remember the night I saw Black Swan at the cheap theatre with a friend. I think I've already told this story but I waited four months to see this because she wanted to watch it so badly and one night, it happened to be running. I went in sober (but full of pizza as I had dinner before we met) while she smoked a little weed before and while she was unfazed, the body horror affected me. She found it amusing as would recoil in terror. At the end, some lady behind us let out a loud "ha!" over the film. We were not happy towards her negative reaction but we brushed it aside. The friend's now a stay-at-home mom to two boys while that theatre is now a church. I miss that place.

I'd say the closest I'd done to rigging the system (besides sneaking into Mean Girls and finding out I'm the only person who hates the film) is getting Fandango gift cards and being able to get VIP points without paying. When I was in New York, I saw four movies. Total cost? $8, as I had stockpiled gift cards from doing surveys online. Also, I used to get mountains of rewards back when we had a Wehrenberg (the theatre's now an Alamo Drafthouse, the chain is now owned by Marcus) and see a number of free movies. And now I'm reminded of the amount of sugary Pepsi I used to drink because diet soda with caffeine wasn't a thing yet.

And my first festival experience got canceled. But there's next year if they can get that vaccine fast-tracked. Too bad science doesn't work like the movies do.
It's like what Lenin said...I am the walrus.

User avatar
Site Admin
Posts: 13875
Joined: September 12th, 2009, 11:38 pm
Location: Glendale, AZ


Post by Shrykespeare »

Great idea, Six! Loved it!

Celebrity birthdays:

Kate Nelligan turned 70 on 3/16
Queen Latifah turned 50 on 3/18
Brad Dourif turned 70 on 3/18
William Hurt turned 70 on 3/20
Happy 50th birthday Luke Wilson! (9/21/21)

User avatar
Posts: 9458
Joined: May 29th, 2010, 4:22 am
Location: Paris, France


Post by Chienfantome »

Man that's a fantastic post, Six. reminds me of the blog I used to write a decade ago and I was writing stuff like that on it, my cinephilic memories, and one of them was "The first time I went to the cinema", another one was "The Time I spent weeks trying to get into an R rated film while being 2 years too young", texts like that.
Great column.
Fluctuat nec mergitur

User avatar
Sarah Conner
Posts: 2677
Joined: October 22nd, 2009, 4:01 am


Post by JohnErle »

Great post, Six. I generally don't look in this section of the forum anymore but I'm glad I stumbled upon this.

User avatar
Ratzo Rizzo
Posts: 1678
Joined: November 17th, 2009, 1:17 am


Post by Walleye413 »

Really excellent, Six, thanks for sharing this.

User avatar
Andy Dufresne
Posts: 5554
Joined: October 23rd, 2009, 5:15 pm


Post by transformers2 »

That was fantastic six. Positive moviegoing memories like this is exactly what I needed to read right now. Discovering films in a theatrical setting will always be magical and its times like these that make you appreciate the beauty of those experiences. Whenever the next opportunity arises to sit in a dark room with a ton of strangers, I'll be especially thrilled and thankful.
Check out my blog
Movies,Music,Sports and More!

Post Reply