I used to be a huge movie fan. There was a time when I went to movies by myself, on purpose. I took film study courses in college, and even thought I’d be the next Francis Ford Coppola at one point. Reality has a way of getting in the way and after a very uninspiring summer internship in Hollywood back in 1992, I decided to rethink my career aspirations.
Even after my change of heart, my love of movies was still in tact. I continued to see all of the big releases and many independent films that were shown on very small screens in theaters with seats that were very uncomfortable. Living in New York for 11 years gave me access to titles that were hard to find in other cities, and I tried to take advantage of the opportunity.
It was only recently that I began to think of movie theaters as irritating places, where too many people munched too loudly on popcorn, talked out loud to each too often, and smelled a little too strong of cologne or perfume. Those irritants, combined with new personal priorities like parenthood, first to a dog and then to my daughters, made going to sit in a dark room full of strangers for two-plus hours seem selfish and inefficient.
The other night, while watching the Oscars telecast, I felt my old feeling about movies coming back a bit. Maybe it was the show’s focus on “the process” of making a movie or perhaps it was the very creative way that the “actors’ awards” were presented by groups of past winners that brought back that old spirit.
The Oscars always seek to glorify Hollywood, but this year felt like it actually worked. The show not only made me want to go out and see many of the films that were nominated for awards (or at least queue them up on Netflix), but I even hung in there until the end of the broadcast to watch a montage of the films that will be released later this year. It was an obvious ploy by Hollywood producers to get people to go buy tickets, but it got me really pumped about movies again.
So what has changed for me besides a well produced Oscars broadcast? I’d say it goes back to the reason why my granddad loved slapstick comedies so much. He grew up during The Great Depression when escapist entertainment really had a purpose. I think that while I still enjoy sitting in my home theater watching movie on the big screen, I’m still at home, with the distractions of home holding me back from completing suspending disbelief. Going out to a movie gives me a chance to get away from political debates and reminders that our economy has gone to hell in a hand basket. Just like Depression Era movies did all they could to make people laugh, a good movie today can take you back to another time, another country, or another galaxy, where mortgages aren’t due and the climate changing my the day.
Going out to the movies not only takes me back to all of those years that I’ve looked to Hollywood to alter my world for a couple hours, but it gets me out of the house for a night of relatively inexpensive entertainment, too. I don’t love sitting next to a talker or behind someone with “tall hair,” but my interest in going out to the movies is definitely coming back, thanks to the Oscars and the economy.