Tuesday, 4 June 2019

Going to the Movies

I expect most, if not all of you, have easy access to a shiny new, modern, plushly upholstered, deep seated multiplex, with many screens all showing a choice of the latest blockbusters and maybe even   a worthwhile non mass produced art film. You probably have vendors for popcorn, drinks and ice cream. It’s a splendidly modern, comfortable, luxurious experience, maybe even including the services of an usherette. (Are there still usherettes to light you to your seat?) You settle in and watch your chosen film. Afterwards, you get up and leave. If you are in company you may discuss what you have just seen in a few sentences before you move on to whatever comes next for you.

You have no idea what going to the movies means in a little back-of-beyond place where the whole event happens in the village hall. The film, possibly chosen by popular demand, has been advertised for some weeks. It’s the only one on offer. Village halls are large, empty spaces, the multi purpose ones have a raised stage at one end for village pantomimes and amateur dramatic performances of slight comedies, some written by the village’s literary titan. In an annexe there are rows of chairs and trestle tables, cheap plastic or wooden ones, which can be unfolded. Another annexe holds a kitchen for the inevitable tea and cakes donated by village ladies. There may even be a bar in the more adventurous communities whose fundraising efforts have been successful over the years of the hall’s existence. Many events happen in the village hall, from dog training sessions via all kinds of exercise classes for the older generation, to indoor fairs, vegetable sales, and a myriad of fundraisers by various village societies. And movie shows.

Some kind souls on the hall committee - of course there’s a committee, nothing in rural England happens unless it’s organised by a steering committee - have gone in early to set up a few rows of hard chairs. These are soon occupied and whoever comes later fetches their own chair from the annexe. If you are in a group you help yourself to a trestle table and range chairs to one side of it. You may have brought your own alcoholic drink or some snacks, but you can rely on tea being served during the interval. Yes. a village movie show has an interval. Quite an extended one, actually. If the bar is open you can buy a drink, a beer or a glass of cheap wine. But the highlight is the obligatory choc-ice.

The interval is necessary to replace the DVD disc. During the changeover the social part happens. Everybody gets up and mingles. Friends are greeted, enemies are studiously avoided, gossip is exchanged and people who last met a day ago fill each other in on what happened since. It’s like the Bath Pump Room in a Jane Austen novel. Of course, the film gets a look-in too, although, for the moment, a bit round the edges.  ‘What do you think of it’ , this is asked either with a smirk or a shudder, depending on how scary or sexually explicit it is.

The film finally gets discussed properly on the following days. On this occasion it was “The Favourite”. “Did you go? What did you think? Did they really swear that much? And what about all the sex? Was that necessary? Bit too much, in my opinion. I was hoping that (insert name of elderly, prudish, sheltered-life lady here) didn’t have her hearing aids in." Followed by a shudder. “Whatever can afore-mentioned elderly lady have thought of it?” Another delicious shudder, accompanied by a perplexed shake of the head. All are happy, It was a splendid evening. Some of us even took our folding chairs back to the annexe.

So, now tell me, which venue would you rather attend, your germ-free multiplex or my do-it-yourself village hall?






32 comments:

  1. I rarely go to theaters anymore, too easy to get films in the mail from subscription services or the library on loan and view them at home, crowd-free. I do see the possible appeal of the village hall though. What did you think of the film?

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  2. I can't remember the last movie I attended.
    I don't like the crowds and the volume is turned up waaaaay too high for my liking.
    I suspect your do-it-self would suit me better.

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  3. Village hall every time...but we only have the all singing all dancing one...

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  4. You're not going to believe me, but I think I'd have more fun in your village hall. Movies in the theatre are too expensive. While they don't check your bag, you're not supposed to bring in food (and certainly not wine!). I kind of miss the old theatres that didn't have reclining seats, which I hate and popcorn was inexpensive! I think I'd have much more fun with you.

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  5. I like waiting a little while to watch the movie at home in our own comfy recliners where we can have whatever beverage we choose, pause the movie and take a bathroom break, not worry if the person sitting in the plush chair before we did had head lice or bedbugs, not keep an eye out for some mentally disturbed person coming in with a gun (my husband doesn't worry about that, but I do), and best of all we can have the volume at a level where we don't have to stuff kleenexes in our ears because the sound is turned up way too loud in the theatre. I think that is what being 65 years old has done to me. I never worried about any of that stuff until just in the past decade or so.

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  6. I vote for a more informal affair specifically because I'd like to watch a film while eating choc-ice!

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  7. We have one of those multiplex theaters in our town, but I avoid it and prefer to frequent our local independent venue. That's where I saw this movie, and I thought it had good acting but wouldn't see it again unless I got paid. It was... weird, I thought. :-)

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  8. Dear Friko, last time I had a cinema experience that approximates your post-example was in the late 1960s ('68?) theater showing of "2001: A Space Odyssey" after the movie, few left but the rest of us --several hundred-- remained and discussed what we'd just seen. It went on for a hour or so and people were still discussing it as I left. Of course, I bought a copy of Arthur Clark's book on the way home.

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  9. We have a few multiplex theaters where the seats are recliners and food and spirits are served. However, I rather go to our 1906 theater that has been renovated and is a gem. They play some mainstream movies (for the $), but mostly they are indies or foreign. Beer, wine and soft drinks are available along with popcorn and assorted candies.
    The seating is set so people interact and it is an absolutely lovely experience. In the summer, movies are shown on the outside deck after sunset and no one knows what movie it will be. Everyone must bring their own chairs. Like yours, it is about interaction with neighbors and it is so important to us all and even if the movie is not good, we have a great time.

    There are joys yet to happen, Friko.

    I did not really like the movie, The Favorite. It was not about the sex, I just did not like the characters. There was nothing to like or feel for any of them. . They were all selfish, unsympathetic people.

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  10. Ok, you have convinced me of the merits of a movie at a village hall, but I bet the seats are hard.

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  11. What a delight! As long as there's enough legroom and the chairs aren't too hard, I'd go for your version. You have a fabulous way to bring your readers into the scene and apart from not having seen the film, I felt like I was there. In our little French village we have a cinema that's halfway between yours and the multiplex, with a single screen and new plush seats. Given that in my first French life in the 80s, a person had to wait about three months before an American or British film showed up in Paris in original version, it's amazing to me that we can see the latest films here almost as soon as they're released in the US or UK. And in English! What's more, the cinema is a 7-minute walk from our house along a leafy lane. We take our flashlights for the late show.

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  12. I have been to the Multi-plex theater wher you have to select a seat when you buy tickets. I prefered the cheap show in town, where all tickets were $3.00, but it has closed. The Art Museum has outdoor screenings at night on the lawn, bring your own chair. Your village hall sounds delightfully social.

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  13. Our multi-plex is only a few years old and certainly not germ free with all those kiddies and their sticky fingers. I do enjoy going once or twice a year, but most of the time the movies are an awful waste of time for snobby me. I actually would like both venues as they each have their charms and advantages and disadvantages.

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  14. I've attended village-like film showings in two quite different contexts -- towns in Liberia and south Texas -- and loved them both. They had atmospheres quite like that you describe, despite being such divergent worlds. I hate "going to the movies" now, and haven't been for two or three years. The ways they're trying to draw customers, from reclining seats to full-course meals, aren't at all appealing to me. I'd rather watch a film at home on the computer than put up with the hype -- not to mention the price!

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  15. Your village hall sounds like a proper community event! :)

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  16. Yes, I lived in a village for a long time and absolutely loved the interaction during all the events including movies, readings, performances, etc. Great gas as we say back home.

    XO
    WWW

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  17. Hi Friko - I've been to a few venues in the past 18 months ... our local independent cinema in Eastbourne here - soon to be overtaken by an eight screen cine multiplex ambushing the town - fed up with being its own at an out of town site. That change is happening sadly - but all good things come to an end.

    There are some good local cinemas here in the other towns - Lewes, Hailsham ... and now here at the Towner Art gallery: where I went this week - it was really uncomfortable ... might be brand new - but the seats weren't right for me.

    Canada had lots of films being put on the Valley area where I was (Cobble Hill/Duncan/Chermainus) ... in church halls, in community centres, in cinemas, in arts centres ... and others ...

    Our film society is tying in with the Towner ... so I'll get to see good films, perhaps not as comfortably as I'd like ...

    Going back to The Favourite - I saw it soon after I got back early 2019 ... and was 'warned' - still I enjoyed it ... amazingly well devised and thus filmed ... interesting to put it mildly!

    A good talking point for the village - good to see you went, mixed in and were able to gossip about various goings on ... cheers Hilary

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  18. the do it yourself village hall absolutely!

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  19. This reminds me of seeing movies 60 years ago that our teacher used to show at night in the old school. We saw western movies with John Wayne. These days I mostly download movies and watch them at home. Although we have some nice theaters in our town.

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  20. Village hall every time, on the assumption that, unlike the anonymous city folk in the my local multiplex, they don't behave with the relatively noisy relaxation they have when they're at home in front of the TV (and the snacks aren't anti-socially huge in quantity and price).

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  21. Honestly, although I like the small town nature of your venue, I'd rather watch movies at home. I can't remember the last time I saw a movie in a theater.

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  22. Village hall - auf jeden Fall! :-)

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  23. It's been about two years since we went to see a movie. Luxury seats and high prices. In the DFW area where we live, the newer the building, the more luxurious. We did not enjoy the experience at all. As many have mentioned, the volume was ridiculously loud. Another objection we have is that movie starting times are posted. When people arrive at that time, they are required to sit through MANY "coming attractions" previews. The previews convince us that we certainly do not want to see the movies. Watching movies at home IS better, unless part of the motivation for going is socializing with other villagers. That is a totally different experience. I am glad to know you are getting out.

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  24. Friko I don’t know about the choice you give – a multi-plex or a small country theatre. My husband used to like the multi-plex in Atlanta because we went early in the afternoon and would see 3 movies in a row. But now that he is gone I have not been in a while. My daughter just told me that less than a mile from my house in Nashville there is an independent cinema that opened as a silent-movie house in 1925 but now shows good films. I just looked and they also show documentaries, the one showing right now is called Meeting Gorbachev – sounds a bit dry. I’ll try to go there sometime soon and will see how I like this theatre.

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  25. These days I am not keen on germs but I like small country theatre.

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  26. I'm late coming to the party here, Friko. But just wanted to add my 2 cents. I'm not fond of going to the movies in the first place - not when the movie can be watched at home on a DVD these days (unless it's something that really benefits by the big screen - like Avatar). But then I tend to be a home-body... but if one is looking for interaction with people socially, I would say that your village hall sounds best.

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  27. Friko, thank you for checking in on me, your making progress like me
    your progress is different then what I am progressing from, the heart attack 3 months
    ago, but we are making progress - good.

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  28. I think our multi-plexes are not germ free... I mean, it is the public!

    "You have no idea what going to the movies means in a little back-of-beyond place where the whole event happens in the village hall."

    It sounds charming to be honest. But I can't imagine picking out an explicit movie to show to a bunch of normal villagers... um...maybe I would be embarrassed.

    I responded to your Trump comment over on my blog! :-) I had to laugh a little. I guess our politics have always drawn the world's attention because we make so much...uh...noise...in the world. But lately...wow!

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  29. This is fascinating - I'm so glad the community movie-showing still exists somewhere! I didn't know about the reclining seats and full meals at the big theaters!

    I rarely go to the movies OR watch them at home, but a few months ago for the first time in my life I went to the movies by myself, to a small theater in a small town nearby to see "Roma," and it was a lovely experience, just being alone with the film and not needing to talk to anyone about it.

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  30. You’ve made it really tempting, Friko. Description of village committees and activities remind of Agatha Christie’s series with Miss Marple – homey atmosphere. This is more like a social occasion than a movie, isn’t it? I would like to try it as a social experience, but… For me some films need concentration and any break might disturb it.

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  31. Definitely on the side of the do-it-yourself. We avoid multiplexes like the plague (germ free though they may be) and feel lucky we have a couple wonderful mom and pop art houses within striking distance.

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