the perennial magic of cinemas (& movies)

Ramblings / Sunday, March 25th, 2018

I forgot how much I love going to the cinema. In the past few weeks I’ve seen three films from this award season and each time I walked out of the movie theatre in somewhat of a daze, asking myself why the hell I hadn’t done this for so long. The great movies themselves aside, a cinema is such a special place, especially the small and independent ones; with tiny rooms and red seating rows, the smell of popcorn, people chattering excitedly but becoming so incredibly quiet once the film starts latching itself onto their hearts and pulls them right in, the loveliness that is sitting in a room full of people and laughing/crying at the same thing, the humanness of it all. I love it.

I remember, last year there were so many films that I’d been dying to see (Spiderman Homecoming, Dunkirk, Murder on the Orient Express, The Florida Project just to name a few) but I didn’t make it to the cinema once. Somehow, I just never took the time. Plus, now that I’ve got Netflix it’s so easy and convenient to stream series that I’ve just kind of resigned myself to watching 40 minute chunks of some never-ending story for the whole of 2017. But now I’ve remembered what I love about films; the way you come to care for characters even though you only get to meet them for some good 90 minutes, the thoughtfulness that goes into their endings, the importance of each word or shot when a story needs being told in less than two hours, how one film can be so effortlessly, beautifully put together in one style out of a thousand different shots. It’s just something completely other than watching a series. Particularly because I’m a sucker for endings, the good and the bad. And series tend to have a not very good “hours invested watching” to “amount of endings” ratio as those of films. I love how the director is forced to decide on something, tell the story from start to finish, even if he chooses to leave the ending open, for that is also a decision.

The most recent film I’ve seen is Three Billboards outside of Ebbing, Missouri. It is brilliant. Brilliant in its poignancy, in its rude fucking language and in its appalling hilarity. The characters are neither here nor there; there’s so many of them and you can’t box them, put them into a drawer and stick a label on them, “good” and “bad”. They’re all both, all in their own abominable ways bad and in their own gentle ways good. I loved that. There was no black and white (yet, to be completely true, in some ways there was, regarding racial discrimination), just greyish middleground and a whole lot of heartbreak in all of the characters. The soundtrack was spot on. So were the wide-angle shots of the country. The misery of a southern town in the US. The hope of becoming a better person through hardship. (Or a worse one? (The film’s ending kind of leaves it open.)) After having seen the film I just wanted to talk about it with people, tell them to watch it, find out about the backstory and about the director and about everything to do with it. I love books for countless reasons but at the same time, sometimes I enjoy not having to build a whole world in my own head for a story and I appreciate being able to take it in a ready-made, handsomely bite-sized vision of someone else’s mind, complete with soundtrack and atmosphere.

I’m not really sure what the point of this rambling is (and you can’t even blame me because that is probably the definition of a rambling) but I guess I just really wanted to talk about this film and make you go to the cinema once in a while (and maybe start with this one because it is really good, promise).

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