I used to love going to the cinema. When I was younger and lived in Woolton, I had the fortune to meet and befriend the projectionist at the Picture House, which often meant for the price of an hour’s talk about bicycles, I had free entry to what ever film was being shown. Moreover, Liverpool had a great selection of easily accessible cinemas. The Odeon on London Road, the ABC in Lime Street and the multiplex at Edge Lane all of which I would frequently visit.
In my twenties, when trying to keep warm, I would take the bus into town and catch the afternoon show to take advantage of the empty seats and the warmth. As I got older, weekly visits became monthly visits and fewer. The habit broke on the move to Barnsley as the cinema became more of a luxury due to costs and lack of variety.
Then, of course, the paradigm of media consumption evolved. Films became freely available through nefarious methods and our CRT TVs changed into flatter wide screen affairs. The need to sit in front of a screen lessened and the cost of visits rocketed from £3.30 to upwards of £11. Moreover, the quality of films being shown decreased – gone were the innovative plot lines and artistic cinematography and in came the plot-by-numbers story lines, rehashed reimagining of classic films and over milking of cinematographic cash cows.
Saturday I took myself to the cinema to see the long awaited next instalment of the James Bond saga. I had already accepted the new style brought about by the success of the Bourne trilogy and had become comfortable with the reboot but found it hard to ignore the join-the-dots “next location” storylines but regardless, I settled in for the show.
Before the lights dimmed the voice in my head was already cynically pointing out the annoyances with the whole cinema experience.
1: the cost. £12 compared to the £4 a shot of less than 20 years ago. Ok, this inflated price has brought about almost comfortable seating but I imagine the refits of cinemas are only a small percentage of the overall profits cinema companies make.
2: the price of treats. £8 for a bag of popcorn. Foolishly I’d forgotten to pop my own in my haste to leave in time for the showing.
3: the trailers. I have a system for whether I will go and see the film advertised. If I cringe – I don’t watch the film. Of the four films trailed I cringed at everyone. Including the new Ghostbusters, the new Marvel thing, something called Liquorice Pizza and The Matrix.
Ghostbusters looks like someone saw Stranger Things and thought they had a good idea. Spoiler – they didn’t. Marvel stuff is predictable superheroes face adversity – adversity is defeated bollocks with no depth or plot. Liquorice Pizza seems like a touchy feely anachronism filled coming of age pile of shite and the new Matrix film will do to the Matrix what I believe (rightfully) the recent Star Wars update did to Star Wars. (I have so far successfully avoided the new Star Wars films because I didn’t want my enjoyment of the old series being spoilt like my enjoyment of Star Trek was ruined by the new Star Trek films)
4. Even though I went to the toilet before the film started, I became conscious that I would not be able to go again for another 2 and a half hours. Watching films at home, albeit on a smaller screen, does allow for the film to be paused when you need a wee something you can’t do with a cinema.
5. People getting up in the middle of a film to go to the toilet. – see point 4
6. The lack of mid screening usherette with ice cream refreshments. The Woolton Picture House still had this right up until the early noughties. I doubt they still do but it was always a nice thing to grab an overpriced ice cream and a drink mid way through a movie.
7. The inability to nip to the kitchen to grab a snack/drink midway through a film.
8. The movie plots being almost predictable enough akin to bestowing the powers of Nostradamus on the viewer. Indeed, I saw the end of No Time to Die about a third of the way through. The contrived plot and the “next location – action sequence – next location” sequence was boring to a point that I almost got up and left but being a tight git, I’m loathe to do such a thing. Originally, the plan was to also see the new Dune film but time constraints and not wanting the Lynchian version ruined means I probably won’t bother.
No doubt in twenty years, I’ll look back at this entry from my high backed old peoples home chair where I am awaiting the surly Zoomer nurse to arrive to force feed me my pureed cabbage dinner. I will then remember the halcyon days of cinema going. Sitting in the dark, watching proper acting with proper story lines and best of all….an usherette with a tray of ice cream…..