ThinkMovies: why I miss the movies

ThinkMovies: why I miss the movies

by Alan Grant
article from Saturday 30, May, 2020

OVER THESE past few difficult weeks, I’ve enjoyed bringing you the fun little lists that have filled the gap imposed on my brand of entertainment journalism, and life more broadly, by Covid-19. It’s been great fun giving a bunch of movies who deserve it the business of your custom, recommending pairings of films like some kind of cinematic sommelier, and pointing out a list of movies that can be used to lift your spirits. Having this creative outlet has been great and, until early July at the very earliest, you can expect several more Think Movies list editions.

But… man, do I miss going to the cinema! 

I miss the whole sodding thing! I miss looking up screening times of my nearest multiplex or arthouse cinema on a random Tuesday night, thinking, “yeah, that’ll do”, and having that feeling of controlled spontaneity as I leave my flat and head out. I miss being, conversely, super excited for the first night of something I’ve been looking forward to. 

I miss the smell of the popcorn. I miss scoffing at how expensive the food is while the bottle of Pepsi and packet of Reece’s Pieces that I bought for a pound each in the shop across the street rustle away in my pocket. I miss the chirpy, smiley staff and their Americanised patter. I miss the air conditioning. I miss the theatre seating. I miss the adverts. I miss the trailers. I miss the good movies. I miss the bad movies. I miss the great movies. I miss going by myself and going with others. I miss movies. 

Trite and cliché as it may be to say, it’s a common human feeling to not appreciate exactly what you have until it’s been taken away from you and, absurd as it may be for a film writer to say, it’s taken the closing of cinemas for me to really appreciate having such wonderful access to them under normal circumstances. 

Now, and I want to make this extremely clear, I do not, for a moment, pretend that my experience during Covid-19, that of being not being able to go the cinema for a few weeks, is anywhere remotely near even the top half of the league table for bad experiences during this pandemic. It’s not. It’s trivial, small, and unimportant… but it is mine.

There has been cinema in the United Kingdom since 1896, when the Polytechnic Institute on London’s Regent Street (pictured) held a display of moving pictures from the Lumiere brothers, and since then it has become both the best way to consume stories and the best overall entertainment experience human beings have yet come up with. I say this as a big reader, theatre-goer, video game player, and consumer of content on YouTube and other social media platforms but if all of those bar one had to be erased from existence, I would save cinema without even having to think. 

I’ve tried to think what it is about cinema that is so important to me and I’ve come up with, funnily enough, another list. But, all the points, as varied as they may be, can be boiled down into the point that Mark Kermode makes on a regular basis, that cinema is the best way to feel a story. It’s fully-immersive, as you’re shut in a dark room, sat in a comfy seat, for the full runtime with no distractions, it’s accessible and varied to the point that there is something for everyone and it’s within most people’s budgets, and, generally speaking, there is at least one within most people’s reach. On top of that, unless you’re one of us anoraks who read too deeply into them, it requires no additional skills or tools to consume. 

While I have no desire to see the general public being put in danger, especially given the sacrifices that we’ve all made, I would imagine that we’re approaching the point where cinemas may be re-opened. My hunch is that we’ll be sat at correct social distance, will have to sneak in our own snacks, and will be urged to use hand sanitiser for some time yet but at least we will be, on some level, back in theatres. 

Until then, I’ll continue with the Think Movies lists and occasional diversions into reflection and introspection and hope that you’re enjoying them. I’ll continue to placate myself with streaming services and other, lesser, distractions until that day and encourage you to do so as well. I also recommend that, if possible, you continue to be excellent to yourselves and each other. 
Plus, as I always say, feel free to reach out to me on Twitter at @alangrantuk if things are rough or boring. 

Until next time.

All the love,
Alan

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