My parents got me hooked on film as entertainment. Over the years I learned about my folks based on their enthusiasm for a movie. My dad loved adventure stories and my mom was all about the musicals. Debates about actors/actresses were common in our household when I was growing up. Judgements were made on who was the most beautiful, who danced the best, and who really looked like they meant it when they said, ‘I Love You’ on the big screen.
When my dad danced at parties he pretended to move like Fred Astaire. My mom proclaimed (many times) that Lauren Bacall was a bitch. I found it interesting that she mimicked Ms.Bacall’s screen persona around the house. During my formative years we lived in an apartment block right across a parking lot from a theatre. You could read what was playing on the neon display from our balcony. We were working poor but always had enough for the cheap tickets of that time. I remember the first Sunday that Ontario cinemas were allowed to open. Ironically on that particular Lord’s Day I watched Charlton Heston act like Moses in the epic film, ‘The Ten Commandments’.
A grand movie theatre is like a church. It is an artistic treat to sit in a vintage cinema. Some great drive-in theatres have thrilled me with their cultural ambience. While a setting can provide a sanctuary, I don’t think my joy in the genre is tied to a building or venue. I can get the same feeling of self satisfaction in front of my television. A regular feature on the TVO network was Saturday Night at the Movies with film host extraordinaire Elwy Yost. He would educate us with cool facts about the movie we were about to watch then tell us to turn the lights low and put our feet up. Once the credits were done, I was oblivious to all that was going on in the world. When any movie starts I get the same sense of calming anticipation.
Film, like all art forms, can attract snobs. My mother would never watch a remake of a film just on the principle that you can’t improve upon the original. I follow a cinematic expert on Twitter who refuses to pick a favourite actor/director etc. out of respect for the craft. I admit to favourites, yet I can find great things to say about any bit of celluloid that I watch. My wife and I have volunteered with film societies and festivals in numerous cities. One of the highlights of my life was learning how to prepare and run movies on the old reel to reel projectors only months before most cinemas converted to digital screening technology.
The sound and magic of flickering celluloid will always be part of the poetry of my life. I’ve watched many shows several times and always find something new to relate to. When I first met my wife, I found it necessary that she learn to love me through my film preferences. In this case the way to my heart was via a message on the screen.