The last few months, I have been taking it upon myself to take advantage of the old school movies that have been playing in theaters near me. Unfortunately, I do not live in a big city. If I did, I would have a lot more places to go and a lot more variety in which classics I could see in the theater.
Being born in December of 1978 means that there are a ton of great motion pictures that I never had the opportunity to see on the big screen. Sure, there have been a lot of great films that have come out in my lifetime but, for the most part, you only get to see something on the big screen once. Plus, a lot of the great films that I have seen in the theater, I saw so long ago.
My first experience seeing a film come back to the theaters was in 1997 when George Lucas re-released the original Star Wars trilogy. Granted, these films were special editions littered with new effects but the experience was still unforgettable. Then I saw E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial and Alien and a few others that came out on their milestone anniversaries. It was a cool trend in the late 1990s and early 2000s but they still came out pretty scarcely.
Recently, some of the theaters around me have started bringing back some of the classics on a regular basis.
One theater near me hosts a program called Flashback Cinema. Every week, they show a different classic film. The showtimes are on Sundays and Wednesdays at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m., which gives you four chances to try and make the show. Recently they have shown Citizen Kane, The Godfather, Aliens, The NeverEnding Story, Labyrinth, Young Frankenstein, Rear Window, The King & I, Hello Dolly, The Ten Commandments and a slew of others. It’s a cool program and I try to take advantage of it as much as I can. Check their website because they list the theaters that host their program.
Fathom Events also does a good job of bringing back classics, as well. Recently I saw North By Northwest and I know that they have The Graduate, Smokey and the Bandit, Fast Times at Ridgemont High, Bonnie & Clyde and Casablanca on their docket. They don’t do it on a weekly basis like Flashback Cinema but it is still nice to have two alternative sources for classics on the big screen.
As the years pass, movies seem to get worse and worse. Sure, we have good films that come out every year but it seems like less and less are true classics. Look back at all the Oscar winners for best picture since the turn of the decade, how many of those do you truly consider classics?
Moonlight? Spotlight? Birdman? 12 Years a Slave? Argo? The Artist? The King’s Speech? The Hurt Locker? Slumdog Millionaire? No Country for Old Men? Ok, maybe that one. The Departed? Also, maybe this one. Crash? Million Dollar Baby? The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King? The only clear cut classic. Chicago? A Beautiful Mind? Gladiator? For the most part, do any of these really have much value in repeated viewings? A few do, but just a few. I’m not saying that they aren’t good films but there is just something lacking in today’s best pictures compared to the stellar filmmaking artistry of yesteryear.
Frankly, I think it is important to look to the past and to see what was great in the earlier days of film history. It just seems that the competition among peers was stronger and the quality of the films being put out were better.
When we live in a world where Hollywood is mostly concerned with tent pole blockbuster films, milking every proven franchise till their tits chap, less attention is being given to making thought provoking motion pictures. The industry is losing its heart and its unique ability to challenge the social and political climate of the day. Celebrities giving long-winded speeches about how Trump is a Nazi and how guns kill babies and how vaccines create zombie children and how gluten is a registered Republican isn’t the type of social and political message that we need from Hollywood. In fact, that shit makes most people roll their eyes and ignore Hollywood. Well, except for celebrity obsessed ass clowns that will buy tickets for the next 214 Michael Bay Transformers movies. But those people should just be bulldozed into a ditch and buried because they’re why we can’t have nice things.
People need to be reminded of a time when Hollywood was this bad ass place where a filmmaker could get his message across artistically. There was a time when movies changed people’s lives and opened their eyes to things that they might not have experienced or conclusions that they may have never reached on their own.
In places like Los Angeles and New York, there are a lot of revival cinemas. There are these places that show nothing but old movies: many classics but also some lost gems. Sometimes they even show some real diamonds in the rough. Besides, what one person deems a classic, another might deem as trash. To each his own but variety is always a good thing and art is always a voice. Hollywood rarely makes art anymore. At least not at the same speed that they churn out mindless crap.
The world needs more revival cinema. Every town should have a place, a safe haven, where the masses can go, escape the world and the plastic mass produced entertainment of modern times and challenge themselves with something better than what is spoon fed to us today.
If I had Bill Gates money, this would be a priority for me. I’d open up a revival cinema in every town. I’d have a strong preference for 35mm film and old school projection. I’d want to show movies in their original format. Fuck all this digital HD special edition with new special effects crap that we get when things do come back to theaters.
While the likelihood of my dream happening is pretty slim to none, unless I find out that my long lost adoption records point to me being a royal, people can make the effort themselves. Nowadays, just about everything you can imagine is at your fingertips. You can be your own revival cinema. Granted, there is still something magical about seeing movies in a dark theater on a large screen with a gut full of popcorn, butter, salt, Sno-Caps and Diet Coke (gotta save my caloric intake for that butter).
It is nice to know that there are still people in the world that feel the same way; maybe not in my neighborhood but at least the Internet brings us closer.
I hope that other theaters or other organizations can start getting more of the old stuff back on the big screen. Hell, I’d go to the movies just about every night if there was something worthwhile playing. It doesn’t matter if it’s a Hitchcock marathon, a giallo triple feature or a spaghetti western night including a pasta dinner.
Sometimes, though, I just wonder what it was like to grow up in an era where there were grindhouse cinemas and old movie houses that ran twelve hour Godzilla marathons just for the hell of it. I never got to experience any of that and frankly, I don’t know why people stopped supporting these things.
I don’t even know where there’s a damn drive-in anymore, either!
Kudos to the real champions… or reel champions out there like New Beverly Cinema and the Alamo Drafthouse. Kudos to Flashback Cinema and Fathom Events for giving us something old and something different.
History is important. Besides, the future doesn’t really look too bright unless you’re just distracted starring at Optimus Prime having butt sex with a supernova because, at this point, what the hell else can they do with a Transformers movie?