When I was a child, before the advent of cynical hopefulness, I used to go to the cinema on Saturdays with Alex and Daniel. I think it probably did my parents good having a couple of hours to themselves at the weekend.
Around twelve years old, one Saturday, we went to ‘The Lion King’. Sat in the dark with two boys, and with no intention of embarrassing myself, we got to the scene where the face of Simba’s father appears in the clouds, and gives him a good talking-to.
My eyes started to fog up, my chin trembled, my shoulders started shaking. It was too much, but I couldn’t bring myself to cry in front of the boys. I remember deciding to hold the popcorn, on my lap, just a little tighter, believing that the tears might fade with the distraction of food. Food has always had this effect on me.
Apparently, I was a lot stronger than I thought, because the popcorn shot into the air like a sugar-coated geyser.
I was mortified.
It’s not solely down to this moment of embarrassment, but I don’t go to the cinema very often these days.
I promise I’m not a cheapskate, quite the opposite usually, but I can’t help but think it’s a bit of a rip-off. I’ll have to drive into town, so there’s petrol, parking charges, ticket price, plus it won’t just be me – Aimée is bound to come with, I’ll want to go out for a cigarette, but won’t want to leave the film, so I’ll need popcorn, so will she. And what if I choke? So I’ll need a drink. Make that two. I’ve probably spent £30 before I’ve sat down. After all that, I’d better like the film. But even if I do, I’ve seen it once. Big whoop.
No. I tend to wait for the DVD. I’ve saved myself £20, I can watch it as often as I dare, and I have another week of Movie Night sorted. Bargain.
After last week’s ‘Denial’, it felt necessary to lighten up this week, as such we’re having ‘The Brady Bunch Movie’ – gentle, bouncing fluff. The stuff of sit back, switch off the brain, and enjoy.
Early on, I learnt that there are films that my Movie Nighters just won’t like. They don’t enjoy being uncomfortable. We have this in common.
My discomfort exists only when I’m making a fool of myself, which is surprisingly often. The Movie Nighters didn’t like, or perhaps didn’t understand, ‘Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf’. That’s a good few steps beyond me. I thought it was wonderful, because it was. You’ve got Elizabeth Taylor in her prime, and allowing herself to look and act wretched, Richard Burton, who could have read the phone book and transfixed the hearing world, and a to-die-for script from Edward Albee. My people did not enjoy seeing two such glamorous figures, in the course of their real-life first marriage, not getting along.
They can’t stand horror. As I recall, they tolerated ‘The Woman In Black’ because Daniel Radcliffe had such a, chiselled yes but, baby face, that they didn’t believe him as a father so they didn’t get caught up and properly scared. I have learnt from showing the ‘Paranormal Activity’ series, ‘Cockneys Vs Zombies’, ‘Silence of the Lambs’, ‘Sweeney Todd’ and ‘Panic Room’ that my Movie Nighters don’t like being scared.
I love horror films. Somehow, when I’m watching a film, in my own home or at the Club, somewhere I should feel safe, feeling anxious is cathartic. It feels like: I’ve been scared, so that’s done now, and the real world can’t touch me. I’ve had my quota.
Back to ‘The Brady Bunch Movie’. Due to a number of darker films which came out over the last few weeks (‘Hacksaw Ridge’, ‘Jackie’, ‘Legend’, ‘Denial’, to name but a few), I had to explain that ‘The Brady Bunch Movie’ was not about the child murderer. That was a low point.
My lady who leaves, left. I think tongue-in-cheek was lost on her. She has made it through a whole film before but I can’t remember the last film she saw from start to finish. My mother tends to be the yardstick for Movie Night. If I can, I avoid too much swearing, violence and scenes of an adult nature.
My people get very uncomfortable, and I don’t want that. Paradoxically, the Clubhouse fills to bursting when I show a brand-new film. Quite often there will be complaints about: swearing, violence, scenes of an adult nature. And, strangely enough, accents.
Now, that’s just odd. Having spent my childhood in Croydon, I have quite a crash of accent myself. My mother tried to impose Received Pronunciation on me throughout my youth but it didn’t really stick. My voice came out like Penelope Keith after a hard night. Then I turned thirteen and we moved to Devon. Now, my accent is a strange blend of everywhere I’ve lived and many things I’ve almost learnt, and I sound South African. Ish. There’s something else in there which eludes identification.
Thing is – my Movie Nighters struggled with ‘Jackie’ because the New England upper-crust tones were hard to understand; they couldn’t quite follow ‘The Help’ because they couldn’t get past the weight of the Mississippi vocals; I put the subtitles on for ‘August: Osage County’, which given the amount of swearing was quite a brave move, but otherwise they wouldn’t have understood a word.
If only everyone in every film spoke like Noël Coward, everything would be just peachy.