The communal experience of watching a film at the cinema has been within a whisker of becoming history and following recent events its future now hangs by a very slender thread.
A tragedy on the set of the western “Rust” which was being filmed in New Mexico is awful. Our thoughts are with all those involved – and the movie they were making is “toast” as one insider put it.
In the last few years no-one has been willing to risk the amount of money movies could lose following Covid. But cost-cutting can cause accidents. Consequently when movie-making was just getting up off its knees it’s now in another crisis.
A few months ago the patient lying on the table was the film industry. Someone had to take the chance and jump-start its heart. That someone was Eon Productions.
Their recent release of “No Time To Die” was a throw of the dice. They crossed their fingers Daniel Craig’s final performance would get cinema goers going back.
The jury is still out but early indications are (as my old English teacher used to say) “could do better”.
According to United Artists distributing the film, a quarter of those buying tickets were returning for the first time in over 18 months. But it was older movie goers who stayed away.
Bucking the trend as ever, I was there to see it at Leeds’ Cottage Road Cinema.
This small independent patently couldn’t even afford to put the heating on so it consequently smelt of damp. They used to call them “flea-pits”. Thankfully, there were none of those as it was too cold for them. I didn’t take my coat off for 3 hours.
I still support the oldest remaining cinema in continuous use in the city but its survival remains on a knife-edge as are many others. So ironically Bonds mission wasn’t just about saving the world from another megalomaniac.
But he can’t do it alone.
The cinema is where you should see a new movie. Film directors don’t shoot for you to sit in your armchair making Jeff Bezos even richer so he can send Captain Kirk into space.
As I left the auditorium, staff were individually thanking the audience for coming – the implied message being we need you more than the multiplexes do (presumably so they could turn on the heating).
This bold move to release the latest instalment of UK films most successful franchise has encouraged others to release their work. So let’s look at what could tempt you out from in front of the tele-box to support your local picture-house.
DUNE is out now and is just the sort of film that needs to be experienced on the big screen.
A stunningly ambitious adaptation of the Frank Herbert Si-Fi classic by director Denis Villeneuve, it debuted at the Venice Film Festival to rapturous acclaim. With a stellar cast and a musical tour-de-force by Hans Zimmer it’s way better than the 1984 original – but it’s 2hrs 35 minutes. So take a cushion.
If jumping out of your seat is your bag why not try one of these, both released in the UK on 29/10.
ANTLERS is a dark story about a troubled child who knows an Oregon folk tale about a monster in a local forest is more than just a myth. I’ve always thought monsters are scarier unseen hence why I sensed the imaginative fingerprints of famed producer Guillermo Del Toro all over this.
Tremendous performances and gorgeously shot, this Scott Cooper directed shocker with its disturbing themes and imagery will stay with you long after the credits roll.
LAST NIGHT IN SOHO is a little gentler – but don’t be fooled.
Featuring the final film performance by the late Dame Diana Rigg as Miss Collins, this unique horror/thriller also stars Matt Smith and 21 year old New Zealander Tomazin Mckenzie in the lead role of Eloise who goes to present day London as an aspiring fashion designer but who somehow goes down a rabbit hole and finds herself back in the swinging sixties.
Directed and co-written by Edgar Wright, this dream like sequence then starts to unravel and spirals into something much darker and dangerous. Well acted with fab music and excellent cinematography it was described by one viewer as a movie Audrey Hepburn would have loved to have been in.
If musicals are more your bag, you won’t want to miss Steven Spielberg’s latest due for UK release on 10/12.
WEST SIDE STORY is adapted from the 1957 Broadway stage show which led to the 1961 landmark movie starring Natalie Wood. It won 10 Acadamy Awards including best picture.
Inspired by Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet, the plot features The Sharks versus The Jets in 1950’s New York’s Upper West Side where a gang member falls for a rivals sister. The music and lyrics by the legendary song-writing partnership of Leonard Bernstein and Stephen Sondheim is to die for itself.
This leaves just one more recommendation.
THE KING’S MAN out on 23 December is the third in the Kingsman franchise and tells the story of the inception of a secret organisation formed to fight baddies whilst wearing a sharp suit. It’s not a new idea. Steed was doing it with Emma 50 years ago, but young filmgoers don’t know or care.
Amongst the cast are Ralph Fiennes, Gemma Arterton, Charles Dance, Alison Steadman and Tom Hollander. Quite a line-up. Written, directed and produced by Matthew Vaughan, it’s based around the time of the First World War but still features all the fantastic elements fans have come to expect. It could be a big hit – but that’s up to you.
Right now Cinema needs you more than it ever has in its history.
So show your support. Go.