I was swallowed alive by cinema in my 20’s, which would have been in the early 90’s. We lived in Washington, DC at the time, and there was still a collection of theatres all over town that played all sorts of movies. I had a soft spot for trash action flicks, but also we got to just about every indie and foreign film that came to town. We backloaded as well, renting old classics to watch with friends, working our way through Bergman and Kurosawa, drunkenly reviewing the movies amongst ourselves, branching out into early Japanese anime, and so on and so on. During the summer, we’d watch 7 or 8 movies a week, taking in double features to avoid heading home to our sweltering, ac- free apartment.
Then everything changed. In my imagination, it began with stadium seating and The Matrix. Most everything I watch now feels derivative, doctored, loud. All the CGI effects and surround sound overwhelm me. 3D is dismaying, a migraine waiting to happen. Young indie films aren’t compelling anymore either; the feelings they express are things I’m past now. I’m a grumpy old cynical fart.
I have movie PTSD, and I’ve been grumbling about it for a long time now.
But we saw “Her” last night at the Oriental theatre. I haven’t been there before, which is pretty lame since I’ve lived in Milwaukee more than 7 years. The Oriental is an old renovated theatre, very beautiful and ornate – think gold painted crown moldings and elephants, and the show was introduced by a dude playing a pipe organ that sunk down into the basement.
There’s no stadium seating, and I didn’t notice surround sound. It was a relief not to be bombarded. Her was a perfect movie in this quieter setting. There was no obvious CGI in the film, except for stuff that was supposed to actually be computer imagery. I’m sure the cityscapes were CGI, but for me that’s the same as studio lot background paintings. At least the human humanoids were actual human actors, and talented ones at that.
No one died. No one was beaten or tortured, or even threatened. There wasn’t a spot of blood. No one yelled. Nothing exploded. There wasn’t a single car chase. The characters were all decent people and AIs. The tension in the film was from what really ordinary people experience–just relationships and talk talk and dreams of being more.
There was sex-related stuff, and a naked pregnant lady, but that was actually comic relief and strange. And also not violent.
I didn’t feel grumpy after seeing “Her”. I want more movies like that.