Saturday, April 04, 2009


As an elder stateswoman of blogging, I've decided to do a three part overview of cinema, because I've lived for quite a long time now.  Hopefully, it'll offer up a stunning panoramic view of the tears, the ecstasy and - yes - the magic of fillum over the past century. Hopefully.

For starters, I have to admit that I don't go to the cinema anymore.  All modern films are aimed at the under eights.  They feature animated bugs in the main. One of the characters will have a growling loud adult voice and one of the other main characters will have a loud squeaky child's voice.  That's as much as I know about modern mainstream cinema.  

Multi screen cinemas have theatres in which children have free for alls, running around, shouting, talking into phones, having arguments, smoking crack and shooting each other.  There are no security guards to lamp them around the head and throw them out into the street, or whatever it is you do to discipline children nowadays.  It is therefore pointless for an adult to go to the cinema or, indeed, to leave the house.

However, years ago it was all ... so ... different and goooood.

Back in the 1980's you could go to an arts cinema.   I dunno, the Aston Triangle in Birmingham was a personal favourite of mine.  You could have taken in a couple of hours of subtitled bollocks you'd seen reviewed in the What's On listing magazine, then go to the cafe and have a slice of seed cake (with seeds hulled by a worker's co-operative of orphaned marmots), a cup of fennel tea (for fuck's sake, you may as well have drunk washing up liquid) and stared across the room at some bald/shaven headed bloke in an Oxfam coat, black polo neck and wire glasses who was no doubt regretting the fact that What's On wasn't as arty as London's Time Out ...

... and you'd STILL have change left from a florin!  Enough money to move on to that pub with all the pots and pans on the ceiling that the students used to hang in around the corner (The Sack Of Potatoes?  The Bucket Of Vom?  Can't quite remember).

Anyway, popular film plots at the time were these:

*  A dirty old man arrives at a farm in the middle of nowhere for no apparent reason.  He manages to deflower the three nubile and giggly farmer's daughters, without the farmer knowing.  This has *slightly amusing* consequences.  Probably Spanish.

*  A shy, awkward young man has a turbulent inner life and skulks around in a succession of disgusting acrylic jumpers.  He seems to be trapped in his flat with his ageing auntie, fifty storeys from the ground in an East European concrete jungle where the sun never shines :(   He leers at women in their thirties who live in the flats opposite through his telescope.

Do any readers have fond - or unpleasant - memories of the cinema?  Does anyone remember the film that the picture above is taken from?  Isn't Mark Kermode's greying quiff really CREEPY?

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It is therefore pointless for an adult to go to the cinema or, indeed, to leave the house.

Sound advice.

Fact is, I can’t get through an entire film without a pee break thus missing a crucial moment (such as the deflowering of a farmer’s daughter). So DVDs are the way to go for me with their magical “pause” buttons.

Although we still have one repertory cinema where it’s safe to go.

They have a soundproof “crying room” for when Junior misbehaves. Mums can clearly view the screen from this separate area without bothering the rest of us.

Just don’t bring your tot to the cinema in the first place is MY advice.
kia-ora. there - that's a fond memory. one thing i really like if i ever go to the pictures now is that the pearl and dean music is exactly the same as it always was: da da da daaaa, da da da daaaaa, da-dA da-dA da-dA da-dA dadadaaa, da-dA da-dA da-dA da-dAAAA DA!
never leave us, pearl and dean.
The actress in the picture is without discernible shoulders so it's a French film.
I used to spend days and nights in The Triangle but never went in the nearby pubs because they were Ansells. And what were you doing eyeing up my boyfriend?

I don't go to the pictures anymore and it's sad because I love films. Cannot bear the smell of the disgusting food people eat; their tiny babies brought in to have eardrums perforated by the noise. I want to kill the parents, rescue the babies and provide decent sandwiches. Not a relaxing night out. Fuck them all.
Everything was better in the 80's Betty.

That's why I took up drugs and tourism.
It's from I've Heard the Mermaids Singing. I think I quite liked it at the time, but it was in fact the Twee-est Film Ever Made. Do I get a prize?

My fondest memory of the cinema is being an usherette at Cinema City, Norwich's premiere arthouse cinema. 'If people are smoking drugs in the balcony' my employer told me 'don't confront them, just SHINE YOUR TORCH at them.'

Mark Kermode is quite creepy altogether. His favourite film is the Exorcist, and there's no excuse for that from a grown man.
I'm going to sneak up behind Mark Kermode with a mascara wand.
Oh I went to a cinema showing aimed at old people one afternoon. I got a free cup of tea.
I saw that 'art' film (at the Cornerhouse) about a man who fell in love with and fucked a pig.
The sound effects were amazing.

Btw - I once complained about marauding kids (by email) and got free tickets.
Is that Una Stubbs in the picture Betty?

I don't ever go to the cinema either. Full of (shudder) other people.
Is it Una Stubbs before she let herself go?

I was sitting in the Gravesend Majestic once next to a seeminging drunken man who kept slurring and murmuring. When the Manager was eventually called he demanded to know where the man had come from. "Up there", he slurred, pointing at the balcony.

Badoom, and indeed, Tish!
Nowadays Hollywood releases about 100 movies a year for teens, 5 for kiddies, 5 chick-flick/date movies and maybe 2 or 3 special effects "epics".

I rarely enjoy myself at the theatre because of the abscence of common courtesy that prevails among the great unwashed...
I blame television.

With all the nattering and open-mouthed chomping and crinkling of celophane going on around me I am so jealous of the sociopath on the giant screen who gets to torture all of the random asshats who are ruining his life.

Last year a guy next to me lit up his phone during the show and I smacked his arm and pointed to the exit...had he not moved over 5 seats I would prolly be writing this from the nervous hospital.
MJ - parents take babies to cinemas because they are *unselfish* and want to share the joy of being with their children with nasty, selfish child free adults. As for the toilet break - I tend not to drink for hours if I'm preparing to go to the cinema. Hate having to go back into the theatre half way through the film in complete darkness, not being able to find my seat, stumbling up steps, etc. Embarrassing.

Rivergirlie - yep, Kia-ora, Westler's hamburgers with the stampeding buffalo, those blooody "... if you're drinking Bacardi" ((the Dog & Duck, daaahn the High Street) ... the dodgy, slightly racist undertones of the Southern Comfort "who are you mixing it with?" ad. At least you didn't get an hour of forthcoming features tagged on to the adverts in those days though.

Arabella - "without discernible shoulders" - ha ha! I hate the ambience in multi screen cinemas, from the overpriced horrible food and drinks to the overloud sound systems. Even the seats are uncomfortable and you have to pay and arm and a leg for the "privilege" of being in there!

Garfer - I gave up drugs and tourism in the '90's as penance for the decadent behaviour in the '80's. Oh, those crazy years of City insider dealing! Er, well, perhaps not ...

Annie - well spotted on the film front. When I saw the publicity pictures for the film, I should've known that it would be incredibly twee, but I went ahead and saw it anyway. Mark Kermode ... Geoff seems to think he is so creepy that he is a Scientologist, but he may well have imagined that and now believes it is a fact.
Billy - sneak up on Mark Kermode with a plastic bag to put over his head. The cinema aimed at old people would probably show decent films from the 1940s and '50's. Sounds right up my street.

Kaz - I saw Leon The Pig Farmer, but I don't think that's the same film. I don't remember any human/pig fornication. Don't think I would even use free tickets for the cinema in B/heath - it's so awful!

Wastrel - it's not Una, but there's a hairdo similarity. Cinemas are indeed full of people. They use up too much oxygen and pass diseases on to you. Shudder.

Rog - Una Stubbs is a youthful and sprightly 87 - or do I mean Anita Harris? The drunken slurring man sounds as if he could have been one of the stars of the film who had seen better days. Probably from the Method school.

Donn - you should visit B/heath's multi screen cinema, where the theatres are full of kids running around, chatting into phones etc. Some bloke confronted a group of ten year olds who were being very annoying. I thought they would punch his lights out but surprisingly they walked out of the door. Pity that most of the film had already been shown and missed because of them.
me and my friend got flashed and pathetically half-wanked at whilst watching Grease for the third time in a row at Richmond Odeon although I think it was a Gaumont back then. Those were the days when you could hide in the loo's or under the seat and then sit again for the next showing. We moved because he was interrupting our view of the film. What a freak - we were only 11!

GOd I've just remembered usherettes with their winning combinations of fags, kia ora and walls choc ices.
I only go to the cinema if I can sit in the posh seats, and the posh seats aren't what they used to be. It's sad.

I'm sure I recognise the films you're describing..
I was sent here by MJ from Infomaniac.

I can't remember the last time I went to a regular theater to see a movie. I do remember going to an independent films theater back on the East Coast, mostly patronized by college students, artists, hippies, and ex-pat Europeans. I liked it. I like films with creative plots, not the same crap Hollywood puts out.

The last time I went to a theater was last summer, during a Tuesday afternoon. It was dollar theater, so I saw bunch of movies that I would be embarrassed to see with my friends (think Snakes on a Plane or that cheerleader saga, Bring it On). It was a nice escape from the sweltering, stifling summer heat.

The local theaters have new policy now where they put up a number that you can call to report people disrupting your movie experience. The ushers have them evicted.
Rockmother - thanks for reminding me of another reason that I don't go to cinemas - because of the kind of people you have to encounter in there. Eugh. Once sat in front of a load of twatty *blokes* with a mental age of twelve who kept throwing French fries at me and stuck the popcorn bucket over my head. It's nice that people can get out of the daycare centre for a few hours I suppose, and it takes the burden off their mums for a bit.

Scarlet - yeah, you're lucky to get a vile plastic seat with a holder on the armrest for your unecessarily enormous cup of cawfee. The films actually exist, but I couldn't be arsed to look up the titles.

Eroswings - thanks for visiting and the kind words over at Infomaniac. If there are any independent films, I usually end up seeing them on TV a couple of years later. There are hardly any cinemas that show them, even in London, and to see them usually involves a long expensive journey and an overpriced ticket, so it doesn't seem worth the effort. As for people whose behaviour is disruptive in cinemas, it seems particularly disheartening because they get away with it. In the local cinema there are no ushers or any security once you've got through the ticket queue, so kids get into any theatre and cause mayhem.
oh my! I don't go now either - can't stand the smell of filthy fat frying filthy frankfurters in the foyer! Oh, that's clever, all the Fs!!
You've made me want to watch those films now Betty.

Write them! I'd love to see the English versions!

Mind you, you can't beat Dick Emery's 'Ooh You Are Awful' cheesy crime romp with plenty of gratuitous totty thrown in from 1973 - just watched it again at th weekend and it is one of the funniest British comedies ever.
Rosneath - yeah, the smell of horrible food is the first thing that "draws" you into a cinema - popcorn, sweets, fried food. If you like that sort of thing!

Laura - the theme music from Dick Emery's TV show gets stuck in your head and goes on and on in a loop for ever and ever. It can never be erased. I'm sure that I read he was supposed to be a really horrible man in real life ... I'm probably mixing him up with Dickie Henderson though.
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