A lot of filmmakers, well”¦about 95% of all filmmakers spin a story about how when they were a kid they “”started filming movies at age 7 on an old 16 millimeter I found in my parents garage.” Blah blah. When will they realize that story is every budding filmmakers story. Get some new material. As you can tell, I have no such story. However as a film writer, I can say I spent nearly every weekend in a movie theater.
When I was really young-like, 5-7-we lived in shitty a*s Orland, CA and almost every film that played was an American kid movie followed by some cheapie Spanish movie. The kind that would be like “”El Mariachi” was designed to be: cheap, sleazy and straight to video. But I didn’t care and I sat there through them all. Luckily we soon moved to the more metropolitan San Francisco Bay Area to Petaluma, where we had two whole movie theaters”¦and a drive-in! Life was good. The only crummy part was, Petaluma got all second run stuff and by the time my film watching palette had improved (via magazine subscriptions to “”Fangoria” and “”Starlog”) I needed to get the good stuff straight from the distributor. This meant traveling fifteen miles North either with my mom or on (gasp) the bus to Santa Rosa to see the newer releases.
Before I go any further, I should mention the reason for all this reminiscing. I’m super excited to see “”Grindhouse!” I was equally as excited to see the “”Lord of the Rings” trilogy and the new “”Star Wars” prequels when they came out but I quickly learned that seeing these films with “”the masses” only gave a partial sense of youthful film going exuberance. What was missing? It suddenly hit me that what was missing was a general sense of excitement about a movie.
Back to reminiscing.
When I was a kid, it was all single screens and you had to get in line early to see a big film. You got in line with 200-300 other people who simply couldn’t wait to see the new Rocky/Indiana Jones/Jaws/Friday the 13th movie. You had a camaraderie with these people. Then you all sat, as Pauline Kael alluded to, in a dark movie theater with strangers, all peeping in on some new adventure. And it made it soooo much better. You simply had one choice of when to see a movie and one choice of where. Not to say choice is a bad thing, but when you’re all sort of”¦forced to enjoy something together”¦it makes it better. You’re all communing and vibing on the same images on the big screen. I distinctly remember being 10 years old and waking up early to ride the bus for 45 minutes in order to get in line to see “”Empire Strikes Back.” The whole experience was awesome. You had to kind of work for it and it made the prize so much sweeter. I still get a little emotional tug when I watch some doc on “”Jaws” or “”Star Wars” (the original) when they show people lined up around the block to see one showing.
Now you have the choice of 3-4 different theaters in which to see a film and at that theater, usually 3-4 times to choose from. Or, if you’re the tech type, you can sit home and download the film. The problem is, all that leads to a lack of true cinematic enjoyment. Not to mention the fact that I have a theory the unobstructed views offered by stadium seating allow people to forget they’re in a theater with other people. Thus they feel like they’re home watching a DVD and are more prone to yap throughout the film. But that’s another column.
My point (finally) is, I’m driving an hour to Corte Madera to see “”Grindhouse” in the big ole single screen theater where ILM and George Lucas test all their new projection toys. The sound is top notch and the seats are where they’re supposed to be: below the screen. They’re showing one film for the week: “”Grindhouse.” That’s it! Although no matter where I see “”Grindhouse,” it’ll still be the same three hour plus festival of blood and boobs and it shall rule. Oh yes, it shall rule. But I’ll also get the added bonus of standing in line with some other people who can’t wait to see the movie. Maybe we’ll talk Tarantino or Rodriguez and undoubtedly the “”Star Wars” prequel debacle rants will rear their ugly heads”¦and that’s exciting. For once I can talk like a movie geek with other geeks and we’ll be face to face instead of invisible message board moniker to invisible message board moniker.