Saturday, December 19, 2009

I Was So Much Older Then

My life has changed so much in the past decade.

Most, I suspect, has to do with aging and its attendant wonders.

But the rest I can lay squarely on the peculiarities of an evolving culture.

If culture is what we can call it.

Here are some of the basic upheavals.

I rarely go to the movies.

Seems like a small thing, I realize.

But not for a guy who can quote you chapter and verse of a few thousand flicks, who sat in movie houses through what used to be called "double bills" at least three times a week from the age of 4 to the age of 14.

I no longer like an experience I used to love.

People are noisy and rude and stupid and they are celling and texting and talking out loud.

And the movies themselves are more often than not juvenile nonsense.

So like many of you, I rent movies, I buy DVD's and I watch TV.

Moreover, the movies I rent are often from France and Italy and South Korea.

At best, I'll see a different point of view, a different sensibility.

At the very least, a travelogue.

If on occasion, there's another "Lawrence of Arabia" that demands the Big Screen experience, I'll sneak in on a Tuesday afternoon in the hope that the public mayhem is at a minimum.

But when is there another "Lawrence of Arabia?"


I don't think so.

I rarely go to the theatre.

No doubt I am missing the occasional treasure.

But I am also saving myself from hours of watching radio plays played out by wooden poseurs with no compelling life force in them.

I skip through the section of the newspaper I used to jump on - the movies and entertainment.

I don't know who the stars are and I can't seem to care.

No doubt there are some darn fine young talents and no doubt I'll stumble upon one or two in the coming days, but my searchlights are no longer on high beam.


I am increasingly a homebody.

A cocooner.

The phrase "crotchety old fart" rushes to mind.

That's O.K.

I don't tweet and I don't facebook or linkin.

On the other hand...

I still listen to music. I still sing. I still watch movies - at home. I still swim and play tennis. My cooking repertoire is building up and my cholesterol is going down.

Life is different for sure.

Friends and family remain the bedrocks.

And little bits and pieces of good work.


Dave C. said...


I do agree with your comments about theatre-going with one exception - weekend matinees with a grandchild are a great time to shed sentimental tears during some cheesy feel-good flick. Very therapeutic.

From one old fart to another, best wishes for 2010. Stay healthy and keep us on our toes with your insights (no pun intended).


Anonymous said...

David , Look at a 1960 Chevy and look at a 2010 Chevy. Ill bet that everyone our age would not hesitate to pick the older car. The same can be said of almost everything in our lives. Ive seen 3 movies in the past 30 years. None worth mentioning.

Dining out can still be interesting but to many of the best retaurants have gone away. Do you ever eat at the Naam?

I grew up in Vancouver in the West End when we used to play ball on Davie at Broughton and might see a car every hour. I spent every free moment playing in Stanley Park and if I got home after dark my parents were not worried sick.

It will never be the same . We may have lived in the best time that ever was.

Anonymous said...

Going to the movies used to be an event. People showed respect to others and their surroundings. It was such joy to lose yourself in the spectacle on the big screen.

Now - the attention defecit crowd can't exist more than a second or two without some kind of techno gadget under their thumbs. They seem oblivious to how annoying this is, with their small screens flashing and beeping at the unlucky who happen to be sitting next to them.

There is such a sense of entitlement, and ME first.

The art of actual, like, verbal conversation, is you know, like um, totally dying, dude - along with most of the social graces.

Who raised these rude little tweeting twits?
Thank heaven for Videomatica and Limelight!

David Berner said...

Amen indeed for Videomatica and Limelight.

I rented "Flame and Citron" from Videomatica last week.

A terrific movie about two men who devoted all of their energies to killing Nazis duringthe last year of WWII in Denmark. It is a true story and very compellingly told with constant surprises.

About ten minutes ago I picked up "Il Divo" from Limelight. I'll watch it over the weekend between NFL games and various lunches with family and friends.

Lisa A. said...

I have not gone to the movies in so long I can't remember the last one I saw, but I do you why I've not been, plain and simple bad movies, bad acting, bad plots, and I'm only 43 not yet a old fart.

As for the crowds, here here that's what you get from the I mentality.

I will say at home where there is no lines for anything, and I can watch "TOP HAT" and eat as much air popped pop corn as I like.

Have a grate day.

Anonymous said...

I think that David and most respondents are missing some important things through the rosy lenses of nostalgia...

I remember when movies used to be "events" like someone said. I am under the age of 40 and I remember the long lines to see the blockbusters and, on special occasions, even the good three star type movies.

I don't think that people are more or less rude now as compared to then - however, there are less people in the theatres. The reason for this is because there are more entertainment options. There are more cinemas - I still remember the Vogue being one of the last big cinemas in downtown Vancouver. The last show I saw there was Return of the Jedi. The big cinemas made way to multi-plexes. Then video players and VHS become more and more available and affordable which took more people out of the cinemas. Now there is pay per view, the internet, and excellent Blu-Ray technology for home viewing. We have big screens spanning 50+ inches with superb quality right in our living rooms.

What this leaves is a trickle of people who will go to the cinema. It is hard to get the "cinema experience" even with a well behaved audience when it is such a small audience.

Furthermore, that annoying person who is talking (or texting) is more noticeable because the theater is half empty. Believe me - there were boorish people thirty years ago - just that they were not as noticeable in a packed cinema.

Ironically, I think that cinemas could become "experiences" again, but it would take an effort that seems counterintuitive....

Charge less for going to the cinema. Let me explain..

It costs around $10 bucks (without popcorn) to see a movie. This will buy me two new releases at the video store (a cost which I can share with friends if we watch them together). In other words, if my hubby and I see a movie at the cinema - it will cost us $20 plus parking. For the same cost we can see four new releases in the comfort of our home.

If we still decided to go the cinema route - we would be disappointed to find a theater which is less than 1/4 full on a weekend. This is not good. It is not fun watching a movie in a big empty room. Even if the handful of people in the audience is well behaved. Then, if just ONE person in the audience is a butt head and is noisy or disruptive - then their behaviour echoes through the empty room. Blah.

Now what if prices were lowered to say, $4 bucks per person. More people will actually venture out and see the movies on the big screen. More patrons means more $$ for the theatre. More staff could be hired (preferably for more than minimum wage so some pride can be brought back to being a theater usher). More people in the theater that want to actually enjoy the movie means less tolerance for talking and texting during the film.

As for the attestation that films just arent' as good. Well, this is just rosy nostalgia again. What us older people need to remember is that we condense all the good stuff. Our repertoire of films that we have seen span decades. We tend to forget the dross and remember the good stuff. Excellent films are still made today. Lousy films are still made today. Time will filter out the wheat from the chaff just as it did thrity/forty/fifty years ago.

Lastly, as we age - our priorities change. When I was twenty - the highlight of my week was seeing a latest release either at the theater or on video. I have a young family now and the highlight of my week is spending some quality time at the park with the kids. Good films continue to be made and I will let others enjoy them. When the kids are older and want to spend time with their friends or on other activities - I might be found in a theater somewhere munching popcorn and enjoying what is being offered.

Anonymous said...

David, I hear you. I used to absolutely adore movies and reviewed them for a local publication for 10 years, but quit when I found myself unwilling to cough up 8 unworthy films to pad out the annual top 10 list.

I knew I was really done with the theatre-going experience when I actually grabbed the hand of the complete stranger next to me and hissed at him like a demented asp when he started to dial his cellphone during a movie.

One day a few years back, I interviewed Peter O'Toole about the movie "Troy." Laurence of Arabia was now milky-eyed and he moved slowly. But he wore a three-piece suit and he movied slowly around the room, introducing himself to all the writers. After the interview, I went to the bathroom, locked myself in a stall and wept. Despite his age and infirmity, O'Toole had blown my mind. No other actor could do that. He was the ghost of fabulous movies past. Brad Pitt just doesn't cut it.

Out of this year's flicks, I suspect you'd like Christoph Waltz's contribution to "Inglourious Basterds". But that's about it. No other performance is as nuanced.

David Berner said...

Dear Fellow Ex-Movie Reviewer,

Than you for those lovely stories and thoughts.

I must tell you there will be nothing I will see in Tarantinio's latest piece of drek.

To make a fantasy of the Nazis is to me deep sacrilige. The Nazis must be remembered exactly as they were; anything less is a travesty.

I believe that Tarantino is deranged.

Keith said...

The last time I went to a cinema was 2001 after an absence of 25 years.
It was one of those multiplexes, and the movie was a digitized projection. It did'nt look right to me, nor could I stand the earshattering sound.
Whatever happened to real film?
Back to the boob tube.

Jeff Taylor said...

After a number of years of not going to movies, I decided to got back to seeing them in theatres about 3 years ago now.
Yes, it's true that many of them are pretty bad. However, if you know the actors and directors you enjoy, it's not such a hit and miss exercise when you go. I see about 2 to 3 movies a month - on average.
What pisses me off the most are the behavior of the others in the theatre and the theatre chains themselves.
The bag of popcorn (that costs them 75 cents) priced at nearly 6 bucks along with the pop (that costs them 55 cents) priced at nearly 5 bucks.
They also seem more interested in selling tickets than ensuring that people that got there early and seated themselves early, aren't interrupted by some idiot that gets there late and stands at the front of the seats talking with their friend as to where they will sit. Why the theatre chains don't address this by 'not allowing' people in late is beyond me. Oh, wait, it's all about the money !
As for fellow movie watchers, I've been known to turn around and tell people (with some nasty words) to 'SHUT UP'.
Some people it seems, can never stop talking - even in a room full of quiet adults that are not talking. You have to wonder just what kind of parents these people had.