Sunday, November 27, 2005


Well, in my continued attempt to not write about politics I offer this piece by Mark Steyn in the Sun-Times.

This column's "news peg" is the release of the latest Harry Potter movie recently, and all I will say about that is that the only reason I ever watch a Harry Potter movie is because I have no choice, I'm on an airplane flight to somewhere. (That actually happened- I went on a plane and they showed Harry Potter. I think I fell asleep.)

Steyn basically rants and raves about how people are obsessed about Hollywood movie grosses and how going to movies is a lousy experience for people these days, how the theatre he went to kept the lights on the whole time in the tiny movie theatre and the projection was blurry. And he rants how the Hollywood studios make more of their money through DVD sales. I don't blame Steyn for being upset. Moviegoing is not what it used to be. Steyn also went on to rant about political correctness and Warner Bros. cartoons, and Whoopi Goldberg, but all I want to talk about is the moviegoing experience.

Moviegoing sucks. You go to a movie theatre, and you have to fight a bunch of obnoxious kids to sit in a good seat, and then you sit and watch a bunch of stupid commercials for stupid products. A lot of theatres here show ads for Red Bull, that drink that gives you "wings". I'm kind of fed up seeing Red Bull ads every time I go to a movie. I'm really fed up paying money to sit in a movie theatre to watch ads that you could get for free by sitting at home in front of a TV. Especially for products I won't buy. Red Bull... yecch.

Moreover, a lot of movies you see at these theatres aren't the "good" films, the critically acclaimed stuff that Ebert and Roeper praise on TV every week. Instead, it's the mass market, typical Hollywood junk. I frequently go to a Rainbow Cinemas movie theatre that specializes in showing the most mass-market stuff imaginable. The good news, though, is that the prices are cheap and it's convenient to get to. Otherwise there's no real reason to go there, the place just isn't that great a theatre. It used to be a Cineplex Odeon before that chain closed it along with a ton of other theatres across Canada, and then they rented the space out to people selling pets or something like that. I think they also sold Persian rugs there, I forget what it was they were selling. Anyway, Rainbow bought it and it opened again with a new paint job. That's the good news. Too bad the movies they keep showing are such rubbish, otherwise I'd go there more often.

I don't want to watch any of the junk they're putting there right now. They're showing Harry Potter, and the latest Jennifer Aniston movie (who cares about that boring woman), and Jarhead which I've seen already, and a couple of other boring flicks aimed at kids that got two thumbs down from Roger and Richard. Let's put it this way: if George Clooney had a hand in making the movie, this theatre makes sure it isn't going to be shown. PERIOD! Same with Shopgirl, or Kiss Kiss Bang Bang or all these other "art" movies that the critics rant and rave about. If you want to see a movie with Claire Danes or somebody good in it in this town, you have to go downtown or to the big AMC multiplex up north. At least they have some variety. But be prepared to fork over the cash, because these places want you to show them the money, something like thirteen dollars!

Even the huge Famous Players multiplexes, these massive ones with stadium seating on the outskirts of town, seem to want to show Harry Potter on multiple screens at the expense of other, independent flicks. It's strange. You'd think they'd want some business from some real movie fans, provide some variety to the public. You'd think this would encourage people to go to the theatres instead of seek out illegal downloads and watch bootleg DVDs from the comfort of their own homes. Instead they load up their screens with the usual run-of-Hollywood stuff, some of which you will have seen the last time. I guess they aren't interested in making money, these theatres. And it's too bad, because I actually like these big multiplexes, it's like going to a football stadium. Or something.

The sad part is: this really is the "good" part of the movie season. The good films are getting shown and distributed, but the local theatres in my immediate area won't show them. So you have to search the local listings in order to find them and then you have to figure out which part of town the theatre is in, just so you can figure out how the heck to get there and back in one piece without getting robbed. And that's a big hassle in its own right. It's an even worse hassle if you live in a place like Barrie or somewhere smaller like that, where you don't have these options. Is business so bad at these theatres these days that these people feel they have to show the same Hollywood dreck all the time at the expense of flicks that might actually be good? In every theatre in town?! I guess so, eh, but it SUCKS for the real FANS.

Even when I lived out West they used to have variety; there was a movie theatre in my neighbourhood that was a bit independent. They showed a variety of stuff that didn't get shown at the chains. Times have definitely changed for the worse.

These theatre people have to find ways to make it worthwhile to go see a movie. They've got to start catering to the serious movie fans in addition to the usual clientele, and make it fun to go watch a movie again. Instead they're just alienating everyone. The regular customers get steamed because the prices are so high and the movies they show are junk, so they rent out DVDs and don't ever come back. And the true film freaks are alienated because this means these theatres will put the prices up again and show more TV ads which they don't want to pay to see, and put even more mass-market dreck on instead of good films that win awards at film festivals. It means less variety and more junk. Who needs it.

I want to see good movies in a fun environment, in a classy theatre that sells good concession food. I want movie theatres with a variety of good flicks to see, places which won't rip you off or show you TV ads on the screen all the time. Is that too much to ask?



I've added a few more links on the side to some movie sites that talk about movies and give movie grosses, and also added some screenwriting blogs since, well, I'm interested in those and in movies in general these days. Blame the NHL. Because I needed something to do during that whole lockout I ended up going to movies and that turned me into a big movie nut. Going to movies may be lousy these days, but it's still cheaper than the NHL and they don't lock themselves out.

(The New NHL: $35 cheap seats, parking is a fortune, lousy stinking Leafs product on the ice, massive lineups for concession stands ($$$) and for the washrooms at the games, fight the traffic on the way out. Wonderful. Movies look good in comparison.)

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