There is no doubt that Hollywood is rebounding or that they have found the formula that’s getting butts in seats. With a domestic gross revenue of $10.1 billion in 2011, 2013 generated just under $11 billion behind the success of the Hunger Games Catching Fire ($420 million plus) and others including Iron Man 3 and Frozen. For some, the formulaic approach of pushing comic book, big action, Animated, and fantasy movies that Hollywood takes is a yawner and enough to keep some folks home staring at their 700 inch TV screens. For others, the movie theater will always be so much more and they will always find a reason to get there.
My wife and I couldn’t possibly be further apart on the subject. She would rather develop a rash in her nether region than sit in a movie theater. I, on the other hand, saw no less than 20 movies in the theater in 2013…and not one with her. I think that my wife, along with many others, miss the bigger picture of what cinema means to American culture and our lives. Movies shape and are shaped by our values and way of life. They reflect on our past heroics and highlight our past savagery (hello 12 Years A Slave); they have informed our masculinity and femininity; and they represent our hopes, dreams and fears all on a big screen. Whether it’s your fear of spiders, as portrayed in Arachnophobia (1990) or your fear of dystopian futures, as portrayed in 1984 (1984), cinema explores the full range of human emotions in graphic detail.
Every year during the Oscars, Hollywood attempts to tell its story but fails miserably in doing so. An endless montage of movie clips can’t capture what cinema represents to me. For many of us, it was where we had our first real date. It could have been a girl’s first kiss or the first time a boy touched a titty. For others it represents a right of passage as the first time you attended a movie without mom and dad in tow or your first rated R film that made you feel “grownup”. It is where we bond with our children. I pledged to see 15 movies last summer with my youngest daughter and, while we fell two movies shy of our goal, we had the most wonderful time together. I stood in the parking lot of the movie theater last year arguing with both daughters why I thought the Man of Steel was a truly shitty comic book movie with bad science and mediocre acting and why Superman is an inherently flawed superhero to begin with and it is probably one of my fondest memories of 2013. I love movies because they transport me to places and times that I can only dream of (hello Lord of the Rings).
You see, I still remember the first movie that I ever saw in the theater – Bedknobs and Broomsticks starring Angela Lansbury. Not only was it my first movie theater experience, it was the first time that I had seen live-action film mixed with animation. I thought is was pure magic. And at six years of age it truly was.
I remember sneaking into my first movie without paying. I remember the first movie that I saw that had “real sex” in it (hello Body Heat, 1981). Me and the fellas had a lot to talk about after that movie! Then there were the all night karate flicks that my uncles use to take me and my brother to. Movies started at midnight and ran until about 4 am. I learned how do karate from watching those movies (not really).
My first drive-in movie was Blacula (1972). A black vampire, who’d a thunk it.
The first time that I knew I was in-love with movie making was my first viewing of Star Wars (1977). I understood then that it was an amazing piece of film-making. It was also the first time that I rooted for the bad guy. And it was the first time that I bought a movie soundtrack…and it was symphonic music for goddamn sake! I was serious about that movie.
At the movies is where I learned to apply critical and rhetorical analysis to something. It is where I kissed my first girl and had my first real date. It’s where I bond with my children and where I have some “me” time. I am an enthusiastic cheerleader for the film making industry and I want it to succeed. So when my wife says no to a movie offer, she is saying no to an awful lot.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s not all cookies and cream at the theater. There is a case for waiting for some movies to be released on Blu-Ray. For one the cost is escalating. It used to be a real cheap date but not anymore. Secondly, I am easily irritated. I tend to go to the movies at times where people are just not there. I am susceptible to talkers, coughers, whisperers, gigglers, texters, snorters, wigglers, seat-kickers and frequent pissers. First showing of the day on Saturday or Sunday works for me.
Spring is when I get geeked up about the movie season. Here’s a few that I am looking forward to in 2014:
Please share your fondest movie memory or your favorite movie. I’d love to hear about it.