Midweek Mumble – For The Love Of Cinema
Being a Wednesday, let us mumble… This week Rodney assures us he still loves cinema
While it might not be apparent thanks to my normally rant-fueled articles every week here at FRC, I actually love cinema. I can’t think of any better way than to sit back with a cool drink and take in whatever narrative adventure some filmmaker has put his heart, soul, and at least a couple years worth of life into. Whether it’s at the multiplex or at home on the couch with the missus and a block of chocolate, I don’t think I’d be able to survive if I couldn’t have my daily/weekly/monthly film fix. Sure, there’s entire weeks when I just couldn’t be bothered – content instead to throw on the telly and see what those crazy kids on True Blood or Vampire Diaries are up to – but then I’ll make up for it with a couple of films every day for a fortnight.
I’m often asked (usually by the dude behind the video store counter) what I love about films, and my usual response is that it’s often an escape, but more often it’s just the simple please of being entertained. I’m not really into the whole celebrity culture thing (if you haven’t already read my article on surviving celebrity apocalypse, you should do so immediately!) so i don’t really care about which celebrity is shagging which other celebrity (although it must be said, often the term “celebrity” is used to freely these days) – I prefer simply to watch the art. Pure performances, great stories, terrific music and technique; and I’m usually up to the task of giving even the most appalling films a fair go.
One of my big disappointments in this life is the knowledge that I’m probably not going to be able to see all the films I want to before I die. Being a man with limited time to sit down and watch films, thanks largely to a young family which obviously takes precedence over Transformers 3, I’m occasionally disconsolate that I miss out on seeing a variety of films I’d like to see as well as the ones I do see; I miss a lot of foreign and art-house fare thanks to the glut of Hollywood material I need to see as well (some of which retrospectively I could have just skipped), and with such a limited time-frame on my week I have to really pick and choose what I get to see. But plenty of great, good and terrible films slip through the cracks.
Guess I’m saving those for my retirement, eh?
Typically, most of my film watching is done on the couch surrounded by my home cinema (Scott, remind me to take some piccies of this at some point to add to the FRC gallery) with some nice food, something good to drink, and some good company. The kids are in bed, the wife is groaning about having to sit through Tron Legacy again (to which I retort that she has to if I have to endure yet another Katherine Heigl “comedy” at some point in the future – which is an entirely different mumble!) and the volume fluctuates between loud and reference level, depending on the movie. The thrill of the opening studio logo remains as potent now as it did the first time I started seriously watching films back in the mid-90′s. The opening credits, which elicit a gasp when I see a name I wasn’t expecting “in this movie” are as comforting to me as a warm bed, although I will admit it’s a lot harder to snuggle with “directed by” than with my wife.
And the journey begins. Where I’m taken, be it a distant planet, a foreign land, or middle-class suburbia, is the genuine thrill of the movies for me. I’ve said it before, but it bears repeating: you can only experience a film for the first time once. And that’s always a thoroughly emotional experience. You don’t know where things will take sudden turns, or who will live or die by the end, or even if the story will be resolved, but the journey you take with a filmmaker is one in which you must give up your inhibitive proclivities and embrace whatever it is you are seeing as your “world” for that hour or two. The symbiosis between filmmaker and audience is fleeting, for it generally only lasts for the time between opening and closing credits, and the thrill of escaping this reality for a while is like a hit of hard drugs. Not that I’ve ever taken hard drugs, but I’ve seen Trainspotting so I have a miniscule idea of what it might be like to do so.
Easily my favorite thing about films is finding a movie which takes you by surprise. For me, going into a film cold, with little or no knowledge about it save what the poster might indicate, is the best part of the film experience. Being awed, being scared, surprised and amazed – being moved. That’s what a film should be about. Not scouring the web searching for all the spoiler trailers you can find, ruining the movie with that “that bit I loved in the trailer hasn’t happened yet, so it must be coming soon” feeling permeating your viewing experience; if you so desperately need to ruin the film for yourself, that’s okay, but I prefer to – where possible – know nearly nothing about a film before I watch it. I like to be surprised.
To do otherwise would be like reading the last page of an Agatha Christie novel to find out whodunnit beforehand.
Aussie film fan Rodney has been writing about film, DVD and Blu-Ray since 1998, when he became Chief Reviewer at a now-defunct Adelaide-based online retailer. A fan of blockbuster and mainstream cinema, as well as dabbling in arthouse and independent forms of the industry, Rodney prefers to spend his nights and weekends in front of the television watching the latest release on Blu-Ray instead of out getting sloppy drunk like many of his friends. When he’s not out in the Front Room, Rodney can be found writing reviews for his own website www.fernbyfilms.com, helping good mate Al K Hall over at The Bar None, and dabbling in lists over at Top 10 Films.
So what’s your favorite part of the film experience? Is it the closing credits stinger? A great story, or solid acting? Tell us how you like to watch films, so we can waggle our fingers and laugh at you – ….I mean, so we can nod our heads in agreement.