A member of our film group sent me a link to an article by Tom Lamont.
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.