October 27, 2014

I Still Believe in the Movies

When I was 16, I worked at the candy counter in one of the movie theaters in my town.

That summer, Batman (with Michael Keaton) and Dick Tracy were released, and I was taken with them both for different reasons.  Michael Keaton will always be the true Batman for me - moody and tortured, without the flashy background.  And Dick Tracy was so bright and bold! It was truly innovative to see the primary colors used in comic books alive on the big screen.

Going to the movies was such a treat back then, and the best perk of my job was being allowed to attend any of the three movie theaters in town for free.  Free!  The popcorn was free too, but I knew that the previous day's unsold popcorn was just bagged up and sold the next day.  (Hint: always buy the popcorn later in the day.)  In the summer, the movie theater was the best place to be because it was always super cold.

There are so many memorable movie moments in my life:  the Star Wars trilogy, Naked Gun (my parents were a bit..permissive), The Matrix (I had actually travelled back to Oklahoma when this was out, and a pay phone rang just as we were exiting the cinema.  Freaky!), Final Destination (that was dumb -> I was flying twice a week for work at the time), Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon (the night I met my good friend Kim)...oh, and a couple of disturbing French films I saw in a little independent cinema in Bethesda.  Man, French films are really weird.

And the type of theater can be important too - just after we moved to New Zealand, a gorgeous one-screen cinema near our house played the Lord of the Rings films for three successive weekends over the Christmas break.  Almost no one was in town, so it felt as if we were getting private screenings!  A couple more gorgeous, classically styled theaters have opened in town, and they are so well suited for certain movies like Joss Whedon's version of Much Ado About Nothing, and The Artist.

Found picture here: http://tnponline.wordpress.com/contact/embassy-theater-wellington/

For the most part, though, digital content has changed the game.  Many can illegally access new movies within days (if not hours) of the movie hitting screens.  Or simply just wait until the movie is released legally on-line or on DVD/Blu-Ray.  TVs are getting bigger by the day, and those who can afford to create home theaters complete with surround-sound have less incentive to make their way to the local cinema.

But it just really isn't the same, is it?

"The movies" are still such a treat for me*. And more often than not, I see a movie that reminds me why I prefer to watch them in a large auditorium.  The latest one was The Judge, starring Robert Downey Jr.  Now, Robert has been known lately as the lead in two franchises: Iron Man, and Sherlock Holmes.  I enjoy both immensely, but he is pretty much the same cocky/intelligent/wealthy guy in both.  In the Judge, however, he reels the cocky attitude back quite a bit - he has to, as it is set in his character's hometown in the Midwest.

The Judge was a long, drawn-out movie, and appropriately so.  The director took his time introducing the characters, letting the audience get to know them and maybe even care for them, as the story unfolded.  And if a person's bladder can handle the common length of movies these days (i.e. 2 hours or more), there is this portion of uninterrupted time that is practically impossible at home.

In a way, going to the movies is no different than going to a play or another form of stage show. Sometimes the show will be crap, but it is always an experience.  And in New Zealand? The movies are *way* cheaper than your average stage show of the same duration.  Especially on Tuesdays - you heard it here first! ;)

Another movie in the past year which really stood out for me was 12 Years a Slave.  As an American who grew up in the almost-South...as a white woman with several black friends...I knew this movie would be difficult to sit through.  It was incredibly well-acted and frankly, I sobbed pretty much through the entire movie.  Such a big movie needed to be larger than life - I needed to see it displayed on an entire wall and not just encompassed on a small screen in my house.  But more than that...once it was done, I could leave it behind in that theater.  It was such an upsetting film, I didn't want to first experience it in my house.

And that can be true of horror films, as well.  I don't watch them, but if I did, I would choose to see them at the cinema.  I can be scared there - in *that* room.  Action movies are almost required to be seen in a proper theater with the giant screen and probably-too-loud sound system.  And comedies? Yes, usually funnier with a full room of people.

But are there movies I wait to see on the 'small' screen?  Absolutely, as I also still believe in Video Stores.  Look for that post soon.  ;)

*Full disclosure: I work in the finance department of a movie chain.  And the latest Batman movie was released the year I started working there! Full circle!

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