Films… films… films…

Posted: November 14, 2011 by antoniobunt in Angry Man, Neglected Sundays

My  Assistant told me this week: Master, what are you watching?

And I answered: Films… films… films…

Paraphrasing Hamlet by the immortal Bard, my neglected Sunday of this week will indeed be neglected since I’ve been really busy these last days because I am being bombarded by an orgy of films this month.

November has been known to Mexico City’s art-film audience’s as the month of the National Film Archive International Showcase (Muestra Internacional de la Cineteca in Spanish) since 1971 with certain exceptions when it was programmed in the spring or twice a year and it used to be big: as many as 24 films were shown in this showcase’s best years.

It was difficult to attend because you had to get a pass valid for all the screenings (if you wanted to see all the films) and you had to go everyday at the same hour, the parking lot was packed (fortunately I don’t drive) and the queue lines were like those found at theme parks on summer holidays.

Now, the exhibition network of this showcase has grown over the years and it’s easier to see great films that otherwise big chains would not programme. So I will be attending screenings here and there since there is another showcase, an exhibit called Blockbuster (do not confuse with the soon-to-be extint video rental chain) at the Contemporary Art University Museum in Mexico City where video artists selected films that have been important and influenced their work like Fellini’s 8 1/2, Welles’ The Trial, Eustache’s The Mother and the Whore to name but a few.

So this Sunday, late afternoon in Mexico City I will not review a specific film. As I write this lines, I’m in fact sipping a hot cocoa cup sitting down in one of the coffee houses at the Cineteca Nacional (the good and fast one, not the slow and the one with bad tempered waitresses) after seeing the Dardenne Brothers Le gamin au vélo and Mike Mills’ Beginners. In a couple of weeks I will review the former, while the latter will have its turn next Sunday.

And it’s not really a negleted Sunday just because I’m not reviewing a film but in this windy autumn afternoon (actually don’t let the date fool you, in this part of the globe it’s still Sunday) I wanted to take a few minutes to reflect while I watch people get in line to get inside the theatre and experience a film.

I do say experience and not see because films are experienced with every part of our bodies and I keep wondering (and in fact that is part of my doctoral thesis) what will happen when cinemas are shut down?

I do believe in the power of the film image IN the cinemas but the industry, the exhibition chains and even the public are heading into another direction by prefering to download the films and watching them at home.

I asked my Film students to write an essay about the future of cinema and the results were desastrous: most of them downloaded the whole thing from the internet so it shows the poor interest they have not only in cinema but in life as well.

This makes me rethink and rethink about a radical change of career and do something else since this panorama affects me emotionally: what will happen to us if our youth doesn’t care about anything? And the bad news is that it’s not exclusive to Mexico.

I don’t want to sound like Grandpa Irving that told me the past was better, that’s even the thesis of the whole Woody Allen’s movie Midnight in Paris, one of the saddest films Woody Allen has ever made because indeed what will ever happen to us if we don’t look to our past with interest not to make the same mistakes?

I dragged myself out of bed this morning to get to the cinema on time because,  eventhough my constant depressions, films keep exciting me and the ritual of going to the cinema as well are the kind of things that I’m happy to live for. Cinema is life.

If there are still a bunch of us “crazy” people – despite the fact we must commute, whether it rains or it shines, the packed parking lots or annoying movie-goers – who attend cinemas and be enraptured by the moving images there’s still hope. Cinema is there for us and enjoy it while it lasts, it sooths us from loneliness, it shows us differents cultures. Cinema is life.

So let us be protected by the healing darkness of the film theatre.

Have a great week and remember: in the cinema, the guy who always has the final word is the one who sells you the pop-corn!

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Comments
  1. I think cinema still has its charm. I think going out and watching a movie on the big screen is still exciting, although these days it has to be “justified” – action and explosions are awesome on big screens, comedy and drama can be watched at home,

    I wonder if things will change towards the new screens. Not the TV/Computer ones, but rather the iPod/iPhone ones. I see kids watching a complete show, and sometimes a movie on the small screen. How would directors adjust, if at all? More C.U to fit the screens? Shorter videos just to catch the attention?

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