Anne here, and today I'm talking about going to the movies. Some people I know have a regular movie-going habit — they go once a fortnight, or once a month or even every week. Not me. Movies tend to fly past my awareness like lightning — by the time I realize I want to see a movie, it's usually no longer in the cinemas.
I know I can watch movies at home — and I do — but there's something special about sitting in a big darkened cinema, an anonymous person in a crowd of strangers, watching a movie. There's something about a shared experience — a comedy is better if you're in a group of people all laughing fit to cry. And that mass gasp in a scary movie when something dire happens. Emotion can be catching. I remember the end of a tear-jerker, and the lights came up and everyone was sniffling and wiping their eyes, and smiling sheepishly at each other — because it was a good cry, if you know what I mean.
That sharing of emotion doesn't always happen. One time, years ago, a friend and I skipped school to watch Monty Python's The Life of Brian. The place was almost empty — there was a group of old ladies — and us. We were the only young things in the audience. There was a short film before the main feature — a spoof of a travelogue, narrated by John Cleese, whose voice we instantly recognized.
The extravagantly clichéd sentences got longer and longer and sillier and sillier, and the two of us kept laughing. One of the old ladies turned around and snapped "If you two can't stop giggling, go outside. You're ruining the film for other people." Three seonds later, John Cleese said the famous line, "and gondolas, more f****ing gondolas." And we two almost burst trying not to laugh.
Another time I was with friends in a cinema somewhere in a small town in Bulgaria, watching the Godfather part 2. I hadn't seen Part 1 — it's not my kind of film — but this was an outing for my birthday. For some reason almost the entire audience was male — we three were almost the only females there. The film was in English with Bulgarian subtitles, and the four of us (with one husband) were the only English speakers in the audience.
There are some funny lines in the movie and of course we four would laugh, and a hundred heads would turn to stare (and frown) at us, then a few seconds later the rest of the audience would finish reading the subtitles and a big boom of masculine laughter would follow. It was weird and funny and quite an experience.
In the last few years I've become more organized about keeping up to date with movies and seeing them while they're still showing at the cinema (gasp!) Some writer friends and I have formed a little film group, and we meet to watch a movie and have dinner and discuss it afterward.
We take it in turns to choose the movie, and that has resulted in each of us being introduced to movies we otherwise might not see. Also, a local movie chain has annual "festivals" of various foreign-language films — French, German, Italian, Chinese, and so on, which has expanded our film experience greatly. This French film, for instance, we all loved to bits. Watch the trailer here.
So what have I seen recently?
Downton Abbey (the film) — most enjoyable, though I found some of it a bit far-fetched and silly. I mean, all the toffs putting chairs out in the rain instead of sending the servants to do it? And … well, no spoilers.
Knives Out. To illustrate how out of touch I can get with movies, not having read up on the film, I had vaguely braced myself for violence and possibly gang warfare. LOL.
It's a classic whodunnit crime movie reminiscent of Agatha Christie, but modern, tongue-in-cheek, fun —and clever. And with a star-studded cast. It was a little disconcerting at first to hear Daniel Craig talking with a southern accent, but I got used to it quickly enough, and he (and the others) were obviously having a lot of fun. Most enjoyable.
JoJo Rabbit – When I saw the trailer of this, I wasn't enamored of the idea of a small boy whose imaginary friend was Hitler. It seemed in poor taste, somehow. But I got talked into seeing it and it was wonderful — rather an emotional roller coaster, that ended with a bit of a smile. And somehow the cartoonish Hitler character served to underline the horrors of Nazism. Highly recommended.
Oh, and it's not a film, but I also saw the stage production of Come From Away, which was brilliant. I missed seeing it in New York when I was there last year, and Pat and Mary Jo both saw it and loved it, so when it came to Melbourne, I had to see it. If you get the chance to see it, go. Fast paced, energetic, emotional and feel-good.
So, do you have a film-going habit? What films (or plays) have you seen lately? What are you planning to see?