April 08, 2007


I've been really busy with the day job lately, (of which a post has been percolating for some time), but not too busy to sneak out to the movies this weekend to see Grindhouse. And this stylized retrograde double-feature by tag-team directors Robert Rodrigeuz and Quinten Tarantino really did make the moviegoing experience feel like sneaking out, playing hooky... it was that much fun. One-hundred-and-seventy minutes of cinematic exuberance. I don't think I've had fun like this at the movies since I was a kid.

The first movies I ever saw were in the ramshackle single-screen movie house in Saint-Pierre-Jolys, Manitoba.

I remember walking in to the sickly-sweet smell of popcorn, pop and cheap candy, and marvelling at the posters on the walls of the narrow entrance hallway. Particularly this one:

I couldn't understand why a woman would want see-through panels on the back of her jeans... I was probably nine years old at the time. I still don't. But it was exciting, I knew that. I saw Pinocchio in that little theatre, and Treasure Island and On the Right Track starring Gary Coleman as a shoeshine boy who lives inside a locker at the train station. And I LOVED them all.

As crude and misshapen as Grindhouse was, it made me feel kinda like that again.

I have to admit, there haven't been a lot of films that have pulled me into the theatre lately. I been struggling to put a finger on exactly exactly why that is until I saw Grindhouse. It's not that all the films coming out are bad or anything, (I'm no snob), but it's just that in recent days the Hollywood fare just feels so... calculated. It's almost like you can see shareholders meetings that have gone into making them.

I refer to A.O. Scott's review in the New York Times:

"Really, though, what Mr. Rodriguez and Mr. Tarantino try to evoke is less a particular style or genre of moviemaking than a lost ambience of moviegoing."

The audience for the three-o'clock show on Friday afternoon was kinda rowdy, and broke out into spontaneous applause for the faux B-movie trailers that were part of the Grindhouse package, laughed and groaned together. Making it feel less like the lifeless multiplex that it was, and a little more like a rickety, smelly old theatre in some small cultural backwater. Which is, arguably, a good thing. At least in this movie-lover's opinion.