With Hollywood being reluctant to release their finished blockbusters into a COVID-19 environment, and cinemas being eager to open, films from days gone by have been called upon to breach the gap. But these golden oldies would be more than welcome, new cinema experiences for some of our writers!
American Psycho (2000)
I wasn’t alive when American Psycho was first released theatrically in 2000, but I’ve got to imagine the cinema-goers were at least a bit shaken walking out of the theatre.
American Psycho is a movie like no other: a grotesque exaggeration of the very real inhumanity instrumental to unchecked, rampant capitalism. By looking at a hyperbolic type of cut-throat psychopathy needed to succeed in the climate of big capital, it reveals the inherent wretchedness of the system. The “protagonist”, Patrick Bateman, a caricature of an ’80s yuppie capitalist, is an almost “perfect” human by the standards of his societal niche: well-groomed, highly paid, a real social butterfly and also a deranged murderer – he has it all.
Whether he’s stabbing homeless people for the heck of it, or dropping chainsaws on prostitutes for kicks, he encompasses the complete indifference to suffering woven into his little niche of society and – although a level of abstraction above most interpretations – capitalist society as a whole, run by the – perhaps less openly psychopathic – Batemans (Batemen?) of the world. This is surely hard to watch for most, but that is the point.
American Psycho is nothing short of a masterpiece, and I’m not just saying that to justify watching it about 18 times in the span of a few months (admittedly in great part for the sordid humour of it). It would be amazing to catch it on the big screen at least once and find out if the chainsaw scene is any funnier or any less horrifying in the cinema.
Mad Max: Fury Road (2015)
It has been 134 days since I last went to the cinema, but who’s counting right? Sure I’ve been watching films in lockdown (what else am I supposed to do?), but it certainly hasn’t been the same experience and has just made me all the more desperate to be back in front of the big screen. And with cinemas showing a huge range of films, old and new, to mark their reopening, that big screen could be showing anything you want. For me, it would have to be George Miller’s impeccable Mad Max: Fury Road (2015).
While I have seen this film a few times before, I have never seen it the way I’m sure Miller had intended: on the big screen. My humble viewings on the living room TV or my laptop have been great, and I rank the film as one of my favourites, but I’m sure I am only getting a mere fraction of the experience I’d get watching on the big screen. I’m missing out big time!
Visually this film is one of the best I’ve ever seen and is clearly built for a cinema viewing with its wide shots and rich, saturated colours. As I’m sure many of you are aware, this film is basically non-stop action from start to finish, making for a cinema experience that keeps you on your toes and engaged until the very end.
I’d gladly take anyone up on an offer to re-watch this film.
My excitement for the re-showing of Roma (2018) on cinema screens makes me strangely grateful that I’ve only ever seen it on my laptop in bed: half the screen coated in dust and the other half shining in the reflection of my glasses.
The Oscar-winning (and Best Picture Oscar robbed) masterpiece will dazzle in a cinema for its visuals alone. Alfonso Cuarón’s role as both director and cinematographer means that aesthetics are never an afterthought, but contribute throughout to the languid yet tragic feeling that builds and builds as we follow a domestic worker’s life with a Mexico City family.
Cuarón describes the choice of grainless greyscale palette for the 70’s-set film as “not a vintage…but a contemporary black and white”, perfectly encapsulating the mix of intimate and dated specifics with the timeless, universal emotions that Roma merges so well.
The film’s gentle pacing also works perfectly in a cinema where there are no distractions, allowing your entire focus to fall on the impeccable performance of Yalitza Aparicio as the domestic worker; subtle and heart-breaking.
And a crucial bonus to watching this on a big screen instead of in your room: cinemas are dark – you can cry as much as you like.
Hot Fuzz (2007)
Although not conventional of the ‘classic’ category, unconventionality is the bread and butter of director extraordinaire Edgar Wright.
The creative powerhouse behind ‘Cornetto Trilogy’ counterparts Shaun Of The Dead (2004) and The World’s End (2013), Wright has produced a number of blockbuster hits over his 25 year career. With his unique directing – often relying on jump cuts, Easter eggs and perfecting the art of the call-back – he’s managed to create his own unique style of cinema, thus earning his place on the 450 movie list.
Hot Fuzz sees Nicholas Angel (Simon Pegg), a big-city Police Sergeant, be transferred to Sandford, a countryside location voted “Village of the Year” on numerous occasions. However, after a series of strange and seemingly linked murders, it’s up to Nicholas, alongside best friend/policeman Danny (Nick Frost), to discover the culprit. The movie also features a number of stellar supporting actors, such as Martin Freeman, Olivia Coleman and Jim Broadbent.
Whilst any of the Trilogy would be worthy of a mention, Hot Fuzz is a personal favourite of mine. It was a staple of my childhood, being a guaranteed hit at social gatherings, and embedding itself into my vocabulary. If I had a penny every time I used “yarp” as a positive response, or referenced that classic scene with Nick Frost failing to jump over a fence, I could probably afford a Cornetto or two.
This British take on the classic buddy-cop formula, chock full of in-your-face action with a not-so-serious vibe, makes it deserving of the list. It’s a movie which you should definitely check out when back in cinemas. I was only 7 when the movie came out, meaning that I definitely wouldn’t have made it through the theatre doors. However, if someone was to ask me how old I was, there’s only one way I would’ve reacted..
“When’s your birthday?”: “20th of May”
“What year?”: Every year
Blade Runner (1982)
I’ve been trying to watch Blade Runner properly for months now. It’s the archetypal cyberpunk film: a dystopian science fiction sub-genre emphasising advanced technology contrasted with a society that is breaking down.
I’ve read the book Blade Runner is based on – Philip K. Dick’s Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep (1968). I’ve seen most of the supposedly inferior ‘original cut’: a version of the film subject to studio changes at the behest of director Ridley Scott (and to the detriment of the film’s narrative). I’ve seen half of a very low quality copy of the director’s cut. But I’ve never seen Blade Runner in full length and high quality.
Luckily then, with the relaunching cinema initiative, Blade Runner is having a cinematic re-release, and it’s available in IMAX. Much of the lasting appeal of Blade Runner is it’s striking and influential aesthetics. It’s set in a futuristic Los Angeles, a hyper-capitalist expanse of neon lights and massive digital billboards plastering dingy skyscrapers. These visuals in IMAX, along with the amazing Vangelis soundtrack, ought to be an experience.
The Princess Bride (1987)
I honestly think that it’s a great idea that cinemas are starting to re-open with classic films. It gives people like me the chance to see beloved films on the big screen and experience it in a similarly(ish) way to the people who fell in love with the films all that time ago.
Somehow, one of my local cinemas is already open and I took the first possible opportunity to watch The Princess Bride (1987) on the big screen. Despite people booking the screening online, my family were the only ones in the screening, so it was a private showing just for us. And what an incredible time it was.
The Princess Bride is wonderfully quotable, so I finally had the opportunity to shout back at the screen and clap when the line “My name is Indigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die.” was proudly spoken, and it was a moment I’ll probably never forget, despite seeing the film multiple times previously.
Although it was great to see The Princess Bride, I went to the cinema largely because I miss the experience of the cinema. I don’t care what’s on; I’ve missed having an overpriced drink and being fully focused on a film (instead of being distracted by my phone or on a Netflix Party), bonding with an audience as we share the experience, whether it be good or bad. I can’t wait for new releases, but for now, I’ll soak up the classics the way they were intended to be watched.
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Last modified: 26th July 2020