HOW WE ‘CONSUME’ CINEMA

A member of our film group sent me a link to an article by Tom Lamont.
https://www.theguardian.com/film/2016/dec/03/film-streaming-future-of-movie-going

The 21st. century has seen a revolution in how we consume cinema, from streaming a movie the day it is released to forking out for a plush boutique experience. How did we get here and how do we navigate the new landscape ?     As traditional behaviour has changed, so has tradition: that well-grooved route for a movie,  for instance, from cinema to DVD to telly, is now crisscrossed and complicated by internet-enabled detours.

I tried to read further but I must admit that I gave up and skimmed the rest. I am not interested in this young man’s account of viewing Woody Allen’s films and his history of modern ways of viewing.

Yes THAT IS IT – I admit it I am old, all used up, elderly, old fashioned, intolerant.

I am over the hill. Yes but I refuse to look at films as a side dish one consumes as entertainment during a night out, or as a private pleasure in the intimacy of a comfortable home or indeed on-the-go on a mobile phone. At the age of sixteen I used to read Andre  Bazin’s intelligent reviews and searched everywhere to obtain a copy of Les Cahiers du Cinema. I grew up going to the cinema in a group and discussing and arguing the meanings of scenes, of shots, of messages. I grew up viewing Westerns in popular cinemas where the whole audience shouted encouragement to the goodies and hissed the baddies. I grew up seeing foreign films in small halls as precious work of art.

And in spite of the streaming, the DVDs, the renting, the outdoor screenings, I still believe that films are to be viewed in company, when the sharing of feelings and thoughts are part of the experience. Where a different perception enriches one’s own. I still think that films are best seen when they are just released so that we oldies do not forget them and are able to talk about them with our friends.

There are all over the country small groups of people organising group clubs and sessions who insist on getting together to see films, learn about films enjoy this wonderful art. Our U3A has two film groups. Our community library shows a film every week: the classics mainly but they also have children sessions. (Unfortunately the adult screenings are scheduled for the evenings. Why aren’t old people catered for I ask myself? going out in the evening is not easy if you live on your own with no transport.)

I come back to Lamont  who  uses two French words to talk about independent and or small screen cinemas: Bijou and Boutique. A quick google search – French and English sites – does not inform me on the definition of these two words in this context. Lists of the best ones differ markedly.

Lamont choses the Lexi as one of the best 5 ‘boutique’ cinemas in the country. On Sunday I went with my partner and daughter to the early evening screening of A United Kingdom. It was evident that some of the people in the auditorium knew each other. The cinema is obviously a local cinema where the viewers conversed at the bar before the screening and probably would do so about the film after the screening. The cinema is run with the help of volunteers and all profits go to charitable projects. It is good to see friends at a screening and to know that one is contributing to a charitable cause. But I am upset that the Lexi does not advertise more clearly its matinees and subtitles* sessions or the fact that once a month the local U3A (University of the Third Age) meets to view and discuss the film.** There are no wireless audio-description headsets for film that have the facility and I still do not know if there is a working induction loop.

For a screen with good accessibility see The Phoenix in Finchley a ‘community’ cinema. A screen with a long history and real care of its audience.

*(for the hard of hearing)

**These sessions are open to everybody and are at reduced price.

About rinaross

Born in 1935. MA in Film and Television Studies at the University of Westminster 1998. Studying the representation of older women in film since then.
This entry was posted in Ageing, Ageism, critics and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to HOW WE ‘CONSUME’ CINEMA

  1. franceslass says:

    I’m testing this to see if it works …

  2. So what exactly is on the other side of the hill?

  3. rinaross says:

    I thought that I would find serenity. Not a chance .

  4. franceslass says:

    Agree with you about the richness of a shared experience of a performance – film, music or whatever. It is a totally different experience to see it with others with whom you can later discuss nuances, etc. however, I would say there is a place for solo trips to the flicks. As a single woman by choice, I often go to the Lexi on my own because I feel safe there and because, just sometimes, I want to see something for myself. As a reviewer in a former life, I never had the opportunity to read up on what others thought first. If I had, I would have known not to go to a preview of Alien in the 70s. So I am used to forming my own opinion.
    Yet, I’m not above having that opinion altered by a fresh perspective, as happened with Fear Eats the Soul. I thought it self-indulgent on Fassbinder’s part. Rina helped round that harsh opinion out in her class. BUT.. I take issue with equating intolerance and techno phobia as an inevitable consequence of getting older. I may not have the time to waste on idiots, but I was always like that, I’m afraid. Age nothing to do with it!
    I try, these days, to narrow my field of intolerance to the deserving few – Trump, for instance!
    But to get back to your point. Kids are missing out on the atmosphere and excitement in the cinema – but there is a place for streaming, DVD, blu-Ray, etc, as well. Just different.
    But for gawd’s sakes, put down the damned phones when you’re in an auditorium or cinema and experience it through your own eyes and ears!
    Rant over. Hope this posts even though it is long.
    Keep on challenging me, Rina. Love it.
    F

  5. Rita Ferris-Taylor says:

    I felt very challenged by Tom Lamont’s article and Rina’s post.
    I guess there are all kinds of ways to view films.
    Reflecting on my own early experiences of cinema going in the 1960s – initially people showed up at any old time, so there would be comings and goings throughout the film as people arrived or left the row, excusing themselves as they went with ‘I came in at this part’ – not exactly a focussed viewing, all rounded off by being coerced into standing for the national anthem at the end of the film!! I feel grumpy nowadays, when people text, rustle sweets or popcorn or worst still, answer a mobile phone call but as I say, realise that there always have been some distractions – some of these have just changed over the years!!
    I must say, I still feel the thrill of seeing a film on a big screen rather than the tv or other device at home, as well as to share that viewing with others and be able to discuss it afterwards. This is different than the more current image of each member of a family at home, in different rooms, viewing films or tv separately, as a solitary activity on different devices, with wide choice of access to films, streamed or otherwise.
    My own visits to the cinema are sometimes limited and curtailed by lack of audio description for my partner, who is blind, as well as general lack of effective working loop system and subtitling for my cousin, who has a hearing loss. It’s a shame that in this technological day and age these facilities are generally absent or not in working order.
    Sometimes, like Frances, I do choose to see a film on my own and at a cinema like the local Lexi, I feel comfortable and safe to do so. Also, sometimes , a solitary re-viewing of a film at home is good, to be able to analyse a film in more depth.

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