Sunday Mail column for Sunday 21 August 2011
I haven’t seen a movie this year.
Okay, that’s not entirely true. Yesterday I curled up on the couch and watched that cinematic sartorial masterpiece Pretty in Pink (is it just me or did James Spader looked 38 even when he was 18?). And just last week Brad convinced me to watch a made-for-TV adaptation of The Picture of Dorian Gray, which taught me two things: 1. Oscar Wilde clearly took a lot of drugs and 2. No, that’s about it. Oscar Wilde clearly took a lot of drugs.
But the thing is, I haven’t seen a movie this year at the cinema. I haven’t gotten dressed up (“dressed up” being code for wearing something other than trackie-daks) and left the house and bought some popcorn and paid an exorbitant amount of money for an adult ticket and sat in a cinema and been glued to the previews and watched a movie on the big screen.
And you know what? I miss it. I miss the going-to-the-movies experience. And I have to say, at the risk of sounding overly dramatic, I think my life is all the poorer for it.
Sure we can download and upload and rent and record and watch movies at our own convenience in our own homes. We can wear our jimjams and pause when we need to dash to the loo and hit rewind when we have no clue what the actor just said (yes, Casey Affleck I’m talking to you). And that’s all great – it is. But it’s not the same.
Hilarious, tragic, delightful, unforgettable moments don’t tend to unfold in your lounge room while you’re in your pjs. Well, unless you’re a Kardashian. But for the rest of us? Not so much.
Think about it. There are memories you have that are inextricably linked to the cinema.
Take my friend Elizabeth. She remembers the time her Nanna took her to see Spaceballs as a child only to hear her Nanna murmur in horror, “This is nothing like Mary Poppins!” after the first few minutes.
Anthony, an old uni buddy, recalls a particularly excruciating teenage date when he went to see Footrot Flats The Movie – only to be stood up by the girl he adored (while her teenage friends watched and laughed). Ouch.
Meanwhile my friend Em recalls the first movie she was ever allowed to see alone (Return of the Jedi when she was 12) and thinking how hilarious it was that some teenage boys were throwing Maltesers through the air to look like comets! Then it was hilarious. Now? Well, it just looks like a huge waste of chocolate.
As for me, I remember being so in love with Tom Cruise when I was fourteen that I saw Cocktail nine times at the cinema. NINE TIMES. Not even Tom Cruise’s mother sees his films that much. I remember my school friends and I melting when Baby practised leaping into Johnny’s arms in lake in Dirty Dancing. I remember the first time I saw a movie by myself (The Truth About Cats and Dogs, Sydney, 1996) and trying to pretend that I was a film reviewer so I didn’t feel so pathetic. (Because, you know, me pretending to scribble notes down every few minutes fooled EVERYBODY.)
But it’s just not about our personal experiences. There’s something about being part of an anonymous group. In the dark. Someone sneezes and a smart-alec voice calls out “Ebola!” and the entire cinema laughs. It’s the communal gasp at the final scene of Inception. Or Boys Don’t Cry. Or The Sixth Sense. The cinema groaning during Russell Crowe’s love scene with Meg Ryan in Proof of Life. It’s the moment the whole cinema starts singing “Twist and Shout” during Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. The feeling of Aussie pride we felt at the end of Muriel’s Wedding, knowing that’d we’d just experienced something special. And I will never forget how the cinema erupted into spontaneous applause at the end of The King’s Speech when I saw it last year.
So what the hell have I been doing sitting at home watching My Big Fat Gyspy Wedding? Readers, I make this pledge to you: by the time I write my next column I will have a seen a movie. At the cinema. And thrown a Malteser or two for old time’s sake.
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Over the past 25 years Rebecca Sparrow has earned a living as a travel writer, a television publicist, a marketing executive, a magazine editor, a TV scriptwriter, a radio producer, a newspaper columnist and as an author.