ArtsCulture

Goodbye Mr Flicks

Why would you go to the cinema these days? In my case I’m becoming less interested in films as I get older anyway. Art films become more and more boring as the intelligentsia becomes increasingly conformist. Most blockbuster films have little interest for me, and I don’t usually like superhero films. In fact, the main reason I’ve gone to the movies in recent years is to take my kids there. But I don’t think I’ll be doing that either any more.

Recently we were going to go see Bohemian Rhapsody, but the first issue was the cost. It costs a lot of money to take a family to the flix. And if you can’t get to a suburban complex with a big free car park you have to add in the cost of parking as well. And then there’s the food, you need a bank loan to buy anything there, or else you need to remember to go to the supermarket or corner store at some earlier stage and get some snacks there. But even at the shop snacks are at rip-off prices, especially at those ‘Express’ supermarkets that are springing up everywhere.

And then there’s the issue of time. You have to allow for all the travel time there and back, and if it’s an inner-city complex you could be looking at extra time to get a parking spot, or extra time because you’re catching a bus. And then there’s the bloody ads and the trailers. With the long films that are being made nowadays you can be looking a three-and-a half to four hour trip. How am I supposed to fit that in around everyone’s activities?

Plus there’s the fact that films are only on at certain times of day, which makes everything even less flexible. It was going to be very difficult for us to find a time we could do. So we compared watching it at the cinema to watching it on Amazon in a few months. It’ll be a third, maybe a quarter, the price. You can start watching it at whatever time of day you want. You can eat the snacks you already have in the house, and they don’t have to come in a packet. You can pause and watch the rest another time if you have to go to cricket practice or whatever. Plus we’re always short of suitable things to watch on TV/Amazon, so that would fit the bill nicely.

Having made that decision, I can see that there’s no real reason to ever go to the cinema again. Sure I like 3D, but not that much. If something amazing comes out that we all just have to see in 3D, then maybe. Or maybe to see a concert film. But generally, the cinema is no longer a place you’ll find me.

And this isn’t even all there is to it. Another thing putting me off is behaviour. With the remorseless decline in civility in the UK a trip to the cinema is a risk. Half the time the film is spoiled by arseholes in the audience talking to each other, and doing stuff on Phones, and threatening people who complain. It’s not like people were that good in the old days, but back then the ushers would monitor behaviour and turf you out if you were misbehaved.

In this Telegraph article Sophia Money-Coutts, after complaining about cinema behaviour, reveals her plan:

My plan to rectify this is fairly simple. Cinema chains channel some of the extortionate sums they make from tickets into more staff, lined up and down the side of the cinema aisles in the manner of 1930s NKVD watchmen at one of Stalin’s speeches. Any noise or distraction, a single bar of Another One Bites The Dust, and you’re hauled out to face a forfeit.

This isn’t going to happen, though is it? Because nowadays cinema chains fear being sued by a disgruntled customer who was kicked out. And also because there’s so many customers whom want to be able to talk and piss about at the movies. Those who don’t have already given up on going to them. The only time you’ll avoid this issue is when you go see some obscure and serious film, and there’s only half-a-dozen film nerds watching it.

The other, less serious, issue is the modern digital technology used to project films these days. In theory it’s better than real film, because it doesn’t have that ‘flickering’ to it you used get years ago with real film. But that flickering effect was part of the charm of going to the movies. It kind of half-hypnotised you. As did the colour palette you got with film. It created its own semi-dream world.

But that’s all gone now. Oh, and I hate the way so many modern films slap a crude filter across everything, making it all look browny, or bluey. Unless it’s science fiction and set on an alien planet, I don’t want to look at a world where everything is a shade of blue for two-and-a-half hours.

I can’t declare that the cinema has had its day in general, because people have been writing if off for decades, and it keeps on going. But I can say that it’s over for me.

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3 thoughts on “Goodbye Mr Flicks

  1. I’ve never been much of a cinema hand, but I used to go religiously to every new Bond movie in the week of release. A mate and I had been doing it ever since we were allowed to go on our own (and before, now I think of it; I think the first one we saw was that dodgy Thunderball knockoff Connery did in the ’80s). The last time I was in a cinema was for Skyfall. I PVR’d SPECTRE off the telly over a year ago, and I still haven’t watched it.

    As you say, why bother wasting time and money sitting in a shoebox watching some over-processed digital video? I remember the first time I went to the movies: the Christopher Reeve Superman, at the ABC-2 in Glasgow. It was one of the last “real” cinemas ever built in Europe, opening in 1970 (or thereabouts). We had to queue outside, which nobody would stand for these days, but that just elevated the excitement. Once we got inside, the place was cavernous. It felt like an indoor football stand. And the screen was huge. I can’t recall how big exactly, but they used to boast about it above the door, along with their 70mm projector.

    But what do you get nowadays? A 100-seat auditorium with a screen barely bigger than some folk’s tellies. And sound cranked up to the point of distortion.

    Nah. If I had a kid, I think I’d make his first experience of the big screen a visit to the local IMAX for a nature documentary or something. That’s closer to what the cinema used to be than any modern multiplex.

  2. It’s sad to hear the state of theaters in your neck of the woods. Here in Flyoveriam, US our local cineplex’s prices have stabilized and they are offering many fun events that don’t have the 30 minutes of commercials beforehand, etc. We recently took the toddler to his first movie (Wizard of Oz) and, though he’d seen the movie a dozen times, he was mesmerized. He especially appreciated the powered recliner.

    I worked in a theater for summer jobs growing up and I find them cleaner and having fewer troublemakers than in my youth. Though I have to agree that the movie output has been shit, the experience is still something special so I stick to the special events. A night away from the crumb crunchers while I enjoy My Fair Lady for the 100th time beckons.

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