Thursday, 20 August 2015

Ramble: The Definition of Smug

DISCLAIMER: This post contains harsh language and even harsher notions of propriety. Reader discretion is advised.

World of Blackout Film Ramble

Hi. Before I start, let me just say now that I like Picturehouse Cinemas. Seriously. They've got that indie vibe. I mean sure, with 22 separate venues (as well as working in conjunction with the 1000+ strong Europa Cinemas network) and being owned by Cineworld, they're about as independent as buying your Smiths CDs from Amazon, but the vibe is there. Their cinemas (their actual cinemas, not the subject of this post) are impeccably fitted. Okay, they seem to attract the most poorly behaved and inconsiderate audiences I think I've ever sat amongst, but that's a subject for another ramble.

Picturehouse show a lot of movies that just wouldn't get played in regular multiplexes, either due to smaller and independent film distributors, or just the niche appeal of the films themselves. And sure, they'll also run Mission Impossible and Inside Out, but for many movie-goers, Picturehouse is their local, and they don't mind a bit of mainstream in the same way that I don't mind when my Cineworld shows a bit of indie.
What I'm saying is, there's a need for them to exist.
I'm glad of the need, and I'm glad that they're there to fulfil it.

But I've seen this promo-film a few times too many, in recent months…

What. The fuck.

Have you ever seen anything as nauseatingly self-satisfied as that film? Is this a thing to aspire to? Is digital projection and 7.1 sound really such an awful hallmark of our modern age? Presenting a movie as close as technically-possible to the director's intention? If I want to sit at the end-credits of a movie covered in popcorn kernels as the lights come up, that's my choice, but I draw the line at fucking brickdust…

Backed by the hipsterial-lodestone that is Daniel Johnston, a bunch of eerily happy minimum-wage saps construct a makeshift cinema in a filthy disused warehouse, wearing black clothes which are going to get covered in shit long before ther first unpaid break and which will have to be changed before the easily-amused punters are herded in that evening (Overalls? How mainstream).

Cakes are laid out onto a counter uncovered, to develop a stylishly quirky location-dynamic topping of free-floating insulation fibres and asbestos-dust, and the man who's been allotted the task of setting up the deck-chairs doesn't know how to set up a deck-chair. Despite being surrounded by set-up deck-chairs (maybe he's covering for one of his colleagues who's gone for a wee. Not a normal wee like you'd have, but a thoughtful wee into a hand-fired 1960s chamberpot which will then be poured artfully into a genuine 1950s Armitage Shanks toilet before being flushed away with artisan water and Highland pony's tears), then lightbulbs are merrily connected to live cables whilst a cat skulks around the inadequately-lit room. Being a stray, it's probably sprayed its territorial markings onto every surface that now holds the food which is about to be consumed (yeah, I had toxoplasmosis before it was cool, actually).

A playfully kitsch ticket-booth is erected, despite tickets not being actually sold for this event, and manned pointlessly by a bow-tied spectacle-wearer (let's call him Brian) whose apparent job it is to wave the audience in the only available direction since no money's changing hands. Just looking at this guy boils my piss. Why is he smiling like that? He's not even allowed in the "auditorium" with the others, surely that should tell him something? They fucking hate this guy. His own colleagues. His secondary job is to cry whilst listening to the film playing through a closed door.

The main theatre is still poorly lit, despite having cables of un-shaded bulbs trailing everywhere (Indemnity insurance? That's for squares). The inexplicably-delighted audience mills around in the filthy room, where further ironic stalls hand out bottles of warm lager (because there's no on-site refrigeration), and day-old popcorn (because the warehouse doesn't have a license for food-preparation) in cardboard cartons. Not paper bags like you'd get in one of those grubby, common multiplexes mind you, cardboard cartons. Like from the 1950s when cinema was cool. Young children are milling about, which means that the film on tonight's schedule has to be either a U certificate or a PG due to BBFC certification guidelines (a 12A could work from a legal perspective, but since they're mostly used for blockbuster action movies, it's hardly likely as the film this evening will be special, just like the audience and their cakes and their deck-chairs and their hushed yet enthusiastic conversations about watching a film in a condemned building). And God only knows what the show's going to sound like, since I don't see a single speaker being set up. It's either going to be a literally silent-movie, or the audio is going to be pumped through the auxilliary-input on a solitary boombox at the front.

Then a rope is pulled, the audience carries on talking, pointing or gawping, the insufficiently-low yet irritatingly-high lighting isn't dimmed, and everyone enjoys a 3:4 aspect-ratio film projected at too-small a size through a dusty room onto a crumpled sheet.



• ^^^ That's dry, British humour, and most likely sarcasm or facetiousness.
• This is a personal blog. The views and opinions expressed here represent my own thoughts (at the time of writing) and not those of the people, institutions or organisations that I may or may not be related with unless stated explicitly.

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