Tuesday, 16 May 2006

Dark of the Matinee

Last night we went to see Mission Impossible 3 at Southland's cinemas.
There's nothing unordinary about that, other than the fact it was a Monday night, and to be honest I don't know when if ever we went to see a film last time on a Monday night in Australia. I'm mentioning it because the experience was very unordinary: the cinema was quite empty. It seems like the only visitors were with us in MI3 - 12 people in quite a large cinema. I'm sure some of the other screens in this multiplex were empty.
The surrealistic element of watching a big time film on a huge screen virtually on our own reminded me of the days my uncle used to take me to see matinees after school. They were usually rather empty affairs: we'd get to the cinema about an hour before the film starts because we didn't like the feel of being in a hurry (or it was probably my uncle who didn't like the feeling and I that was made to behave like him). We'd wait on our own for the box office to open, often accompanied by others (eventually) but never by too many others. And then we'd rush to the empty cinema to catch the best seats in the middle of the middle.
My best memory of that time is Empire Strikes Back. It was the first movie ever that I went to see knowing what I am about to do (I have distinct memories from other films before that, such as James Bond - The Spy Who Loved Me, but they're a blur; Empire is the first film I genuinely saw at the cinemas). It was also the very first day of third grade and it was also the very last day Empire was playing before being removed from the cinemas. The result of that all was that my uncle and I shared the huge cinema (it was before the age of the multiplex, when cinemas were truly big) with just one other guy. And with the Dolby Stereo sound and the film being as good as it was, it was quite an experience - so much so that I remember it 27 years later quite vividly.
Mission Impossible 3 is quite inferior to Empire. Well, most films are; and the cinema experience is different, too - it's no longer the novelty it was at an age where going to the cinema was a big deal because we simply couldn't afford it, and they simply don't make them like they did before. It's not just CGI that ruined the authenticity of films, they just all feel like they were made to a formula with zero originality.
MI3 certainly falls under that category. It's quite a stupid film, yet for a simulated matinee show it's just the ticket - a stupid rollercoaster that makes you feel good for two hours. It's got several layers of stupidity about it: It's not just that the action scenes try to go over the top of one another, requiring new suspension of disbelief heights; it's also simple plot stuff.
Take, for example, the scene in which Tom Cruise tells his wife how to operate a pistol - nothing advanced, just load and click the trigger - and she asks him how come he knows so much about guns. She must be retarded or something, because one only needs to watch a couple of American films to know how to operate a gun; and I'm not talking about Lethal Weapon or anything like that. Little House on the Prairie is enough to teach you.
I miss the days of the Empire. Third grade, those were the best of times: no worries, no responsibilities.

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