Cinema Experiences

I have never been a big cinema goer. I get engrossed in movies and feel far more comfortable doing so alone or with few others, without distractions. I want to think and analyse and soak it all in. I watched the Lord of the Rings at home on DVD and I wouldn’t want to change that. The first I watched alone and was utterly absorbed by it.

Mind you, my wife is a huge fan of the Lord of the Rings and one day soon we’ll watch it all in one day together. That should be great.

Last summer she and I went to the cinema a couple of times. It was a small one and quiet, about twenty or so people in there at best. We saw Dawn of the Planet of the Apes and Guardians of the Galaxy. I enjoyed them both, even if my wife is loud when she sobs or glees over something.

But in my younger years my family went to a much bigger cinema and saw some big blockbusters. The place was packed and I hated going there and coming out, but once I got settled I felt secure and ready to absorb another story. Or at least have my eardrums pounded by the speakers.

We mainly saw Star Trek movies because my uncle and aunt were huge Trek fans and they loved going to see them with us. My dad and I were Trek fans too. This made me like the Next Generation films a lot more than I would have alone. The audience enjoyed the banter of the characters and some of the set-ups. As I have watched those films since, I’ve found myself barely able to tolerate them. Especially after watching some of Mr Plinkett’s reviews. The point about TV Picard vs Movie Picard was spot on.

Still, people had a good time and so I did too.

The same went for watching the Phantom Menace (speaking of Pinkett). I saw that in the cinema and, well, I had a good time. We laughed at Jar-Jar (don’t hate me, I was swept up with the crowd!) and the end fight was pretty cool. However – and this is an important moment for me as a movie nut that I only realised later on in life – as soon as we were in the car, I did start complaining about a few things to my younger brother. Small things, like the bigger fish bit being repeated. He looked at me and muttered: You take movies too seriously.

He was right, of course.

I still have a bit of liking for the Phantom Menace. Oh I know it is a poorly thought out plot with annoying characters. But I find the simple and direct story an okay watch. The other two films I had no enthusiasm to watch and only did so when I got round to it. Neither worked for me. Probably because they were more about the bigger picture, telling a tale I already knew the outcome to. I can give a crappy scifi film a pass if it keeps things more simple and focused. After all, I grew up on science fiction most would despise today. Cheap effects, stereotypical characters, goofy music. Still, I loved them. I watched Roger Corman’s Space Raiders not long ago. It was daft but I couldn’t help enjoying it. So many deaths! Fun times.

So back to the cinema stuff, I have to relate a story while watching the Phantom Menace. We were at the big fight and had just seen Darth Maul kill Quids-In Gin, or whatever. Obi is mad but then is hanging from that thing, whatever that was. Darth Maul is glowering and growling. Suddenly Obi flips up, catches the light saber and cuts Darth Maul in half.

This bloke a few rows back yells in a hushed voice: Yes!

Everyone around us heard him. Everyone laughed.

I know that film is poor and I’d much rather watch Mr Plinkett’s review of it than the movie itself, but I do remember that moment fondly. I love knowing someone was so into the film that they had to let that out. Just had to exclaim it, but still tried to keep quiet. Good for you, man.

I did see Return of the Jedi when I was very young too. I have no real recollection of viewing it though. I just remember my brother and I running about pretending to fly ships and shoot each other. We must have driven everyone around us mad.

Another vivid memory I have is watching the Mask. Us Brits had no idea who Jim Carrey was back then. I didn’t even know I had seen him before! Turns out I had seen Earth Girls Are Easy and a few others he was in. Oh, only recently I watched a vampire movie which was kind of a sex comedy too, and I found that was him. Oddly enough, my uncle and aunt had put this film on one time while we were staying with them. They chatted with my parents at the dining table as my brother and I watched it. Basically we were at that age where we didn’t get half the jokes and didn’t want to let the adults know we knew the other half. It didn’t really stick in the mind until I came across it on tv recenly, and I had to go: Is that Jim Carrey?!

So yeah, we sit and watch this movie (the Mask) we only know has this green faced loon in. I always remember the mood. Everyone was still and relaxed. Things were ticking along. We meet Stanley, Milo his dog, his best friend at the bank, etc. You could just sense people urging the movie forward.

Then he puts the mask on. Wow, the energy level leapt up in the cinema in a second. This was what everyone had come to see! People were laughing and buzzing as the madness was let loose. When the mask was off, people calmed down, but they had had a taste now and you could sense people were still excited for the next time. It came. People loved the big musical number.

What I will say about the strength of the movie was that by the end, I actually cared about Stanley as a character and not about him as the Mask. That other side was fun but ego-centric and reckless. I think the audience went that way too. By the end, everyone was giddy having laughed a lot and, I think, cared a lot. Not many movies I have been to see have left a crowd that way.

There are a lot of things about going to the cinema that still aren’t for me. I was annoyed at having to watch Guardians of the Galaxy in 3-D, and having to pay extra for something I didn’t want. But there have been some films that would never have got me without that crowd atmosphere. There are some experiences I’m glad I had.

Oh, but that time I threw up on myself in the back of my uncle’s car on the way to a film, not so good. Had to change on the side of the road and everything. No idea what that movie even was! Would have been fitting if it had been Star Trek: Generations.

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