Thursday, 12 March 2009
I’ve just dug out an old journal which includes some entries on visits to the cinema. There are moments of drama, comedy and horror here, on and off-screen:
I’m at the annual Leeds Film Festival where an overenthusiastic audience member juggling a days worth of cinema snacks (nachos with the works, popcorn, big-ass cup of Pepsi), trips and falls violently into the steps next to me. Carnage.
Letting my hand wander to the side of my seat during the film, I find a strange object which, after much touching and groping, I eventually realise to be the foot of the guy who is sat behind me. Unfairly labelled a ‘dirty fucking weirdo’ by my so-called friends whom I mistakenly confess to afterwards.
Smack-head wonders into the cinema, making occasional indistinguishable noises as the film starts, then begins yelling “it’s fucking DeNiro!” as if he can’t quite believe who he’s seeing on the screen in front of him and wants to share it with the rest of the cinema. He exits soon after this.
Regrettably attend a showing with an audience who have just stumbled out of seeing American Pie for the 24th time. Cue lots of uproarious laughter during serious scenes in film. I sit there quietly seething, wanting to scold these ignorant fools and explain how they need to understand the film in its original context, its images and power have been lost/diluted due to years of parody and homage’s, etc. Ultimately do nothing and decide to sit and suffer through it.
Feeling particularly cultured, buy a ticket for acclaimed new Czech film. Grow increasingly confused as cinema begins to fill up with an excited Indian audience, many of whom have brought their whole families along. Realise my mistake when the opening credits to a Bollywood film called Koyla begin.
Battle in Heaven
Go on my own to see existential Mexican art-house kidnap drama. Opening scene starts in slow-mo and is an extreme close-up of a young girl fellating a sweaty, overweight gentleman who is considerably older than her. Suddenly I’m very aware of being on my own, and that the cinema is eerily quiet. It dawns on me that there are probably people in here with ulterior motives. Eugh!
The Phantom Menace
I’ve read the reviews. I convince myself that all I need to do is to lay low for a while, let the hype die down, then judge the film on its own merits. I mean, it’s Star Wars! The curtains go back and the familiar 20th Century Fox logo appears, followed by the glittering Lucasfilm one. Beautiful. My eyes begin to well up (slightly) as all the memories of the film which first awakened my passion in cinema all those years ago, come flooding back. Any hints of warm nostalgia soon disappear and after 115 minutes, I am convinced that I have just been witness to the biggest disappointment in my life. That night, I make the uneasy transition from boy to man.