I have been a movie geek since I was a kid. There was a time in my life, living in a small town near to a slightly larger town, where I’d go to the movies all the time. In retrospect I saw a lot of trash. I loved going to the movies though. I was even lucky enough to have had my mom get me out of school early one day to go see THE SECRET OF NIMH.
Over the years movies have become a safe haven for me.
A respite from a world I often didn’t feel a part of.
I had learned to love horror, but I appreciated all sorts of films.
Like I said, I went to see everything.
The older I got the more refined my tastes got, inspired by more voices out there and I began to appreciate foreign films and indie movies.
I grew up watching VHS more than I did going to the movies.
I was just part of that generation.
My family would rent movies on weekends and as I got older, I had the chance to pick my own movies. As I became a teen, I’d stay up late on weekends and rent horror films and watch them upstairs in our house. Later, I had my own small television and VCR and could watch from my room.
Movies were and are about the film primarily and the atmosphere secondary. Yeah, I love going to a theater and seeing a movie.
I saw THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT at a packed art house the week before it went national, and the theater was dead silent through the entire film. I had been reading about the movie on the geek sites for months and had been dying to see it. The entire experience was pure magic. I had gone with a big group of friends. It was a crowded house. The marquee said ‘Josh, where are you?’. And all of it created something that I have never experienced again.
That’s the magic of movies.
That was the magic of going to the movies.
And before I go further, I LOVE going to the movies.
The experience evolved as I did, from something I did with family, then close friends, then solo, then significant others, then friends and the sig other. It became about the experience of going to the movie. Dinner, then the movie, then hanging out afterwards to talk about it. Or a movie then a diner to talk.
We were movie geeks and needed to decompress and discuss what we’d seen.
I always wanted to be there opening night and wanted that talk afterwards.
The thing is though, that similar magic exists at home.
As a teen I’d watch movies in my room and get myself pizza delivered. I made my own fun.
Later, it was about having friends over to my apartment to share a movie and food.
Then a night spent with the person I was with romantically watching something and hanging out.
Before Covid we would have movie nights and invite friends over and my wife would make dinner or we’d get pizza and all tuck in for a night of food, laughs, and movies.
The unifying factor in all of this was the addition of movies.
I had fun with friends and loved ones with or without a movie, but they always made a movie experience more fun. It was great to discover movies with someone as passionate as I was about them but I still enjoy/ed them on my own.
As Covid took hold of the country and things changed, the way we consume movies did too.
I am a big movie geek and have a decent set up at home to watch stuff. It’s not a home theater but it’s better than any set up I had had before, and it works for us.
How I watch movies has changed over the years but one thing that has never changed was my absolute passion for them. Due to Covid and working from home I watched nearly 300 movies last year and right now am almost at 250.
If I had my preference, I’d be able to go to the movies, get popcorn, get a pop, and just go see movies.
Unfortunately, that’s not the reality I live in.
I have people in my life with compromised immune systems and a young baby and me going to the movies isn’t worth the risk of going to a theater that could be full of folks that don’t follow the same guidelines that I do and it’s not worth it.
I was lucky enough to rent a theater for my birthday and had a few friends join us for a screening for CLUE, my daughter’s first movie theater experience, and it was wonderful.
But that’s one movie in a theater in about nineteen months.
I miss going out, but in the end, it’s the movie that matters.
I lived through the VHS and television broadcast eras where movies were formatted by time and size to fit into certain restrictions and still loved the movies. I was able to re-discover the original magic of film when I got my laserdisc player and then all the fun extras and behind the scenes stuff with laser and DVD and have enjoyed the collector editions and deep cut movies and alternate cuts that have found their way to blu.
However I have to watch movies, I will do that.
It’s not ideal for movies to debut at home.
I miss the theatrical experience and the bigger than life nature of it all.
Home viewing can be way too casual, as we are seeing with the way we consume content from streamers, but a great movie is great however we see it.
It touches us just the same.
It may not give you the same secondary memories that I got from BWP, but that’s OK.
Life in this era of Covid has been every last thing but perfect and ideal and I am sorry for the entertainment industry that has had to change what they do and evolve on the fly to keep up with this new reality. I have to say though that I love the option to watch new movies from home.
Even if I have to rent them.
I love that I can feel like I am not missing out completely and don’t have to put myself or my family at risk.
We need these distractions and outlets so we can still feel a part of the world and still feel some measure, even if it’s small and brief, of joy.
Seeing movies at home isn’t seeing them on huge screens and with cutting edge sound and vision but we are seeing, I am seeing that what matters is the content, not how I consume it. It’s up to me what rituals I create or carry forward for the movies. I don’t want to see theaters and the arts die because of this pandemic but I am glad that I still have the option to see things and experience things – like concerts – from my home, where I can be safe with the ones I love.
Sure, we may be giving up some of the purity and magic of the cinema but in the end, it was always about the movies, wasn’t it, so who cares how we see them?
Just that they’re seen.