Monday, 10 January 2011

The Bigger Picture

The King's Speech is an utter delight. It deserves all the stars, plaudits, thumbs up it's been given, a fabulous story, fabulously told with fabulous performances. Who knew when Colin clambered out of the pond and shook himself dry that one day he'd start churning out Oscar nominating performances....although he may well be up against Jeff Bridges again.....and of course the divine Helena just gets better and better I believe. Despite having taken against her in her early career, dismissing her as being nothing more than a head full of hair extensions with a face like a cat's bottom........ I blame Merchant and Ivory for my uncharitable thoughts...... today I am a complete convert and champion her every production. Although to be honest, it is almost Geoffrey's film. He is quite brilliant. I loved it.

But I would say that because I love going to the movies. I always have. It's a family trait. After taking my Mum to see The Lady And The Tramp, my Dad walked her home, across London, and proposed to her, a story recounted everytime they show the dogs-eating-spaghetti scene on TV. I remember them arguing one rainy afternoon over whether or not Carry On Screaming was suitable viewing for the children. Apparently it was and I laughed so much I was nearly sick. We would all go to every new release from James Bond to Jungle Book and I blame my mother for taking me to see a re-release of Gone With The Wind, aged 8, swiftly followed by Wuthering Heights, resulting in my addiction to troubled men who roam the Moors and don't give a damn.....
As an adult I regularly go to the pictures whether to celebrate or seek solace, to laugh with friends or weep alone; for me it's a perfect date. The cinema is my safe place. Between Christmas and New Year I saw 4 films in 3 days, make of that what you will. As a child it was the one place where my son and I could come together. ADHD kids can sit through feature films much earlier than most other kids, bizarrely, due to the instant gratification of the flickering stimulus. And so we went to the movies. A lot. It's not just about watching the film, it's about going to the cinema: sitting in the dark, being transported away from my world and into someone elses, far away from the slings and arrows of my own outrageous fortune. And I absolutely love a matinee, it always feels like playing hookey from real life, preferably on a wet afternoon and with only a handful of other people dotted about in the darkness........ Why does eating popcorn make such a noise? I hate the sound of salt-sticky fingers burrowing furiously into super-sized cartons, like a demented ferret trying to make a home amongst polystyrene packaging. And is it really necessary to check texts/emails/instant messages while Ben Stiller is giving us his Gay Focker?

And now we have groovy, new cinemas with super-comfy armchairs and sofas one of which is within walking distance of my own sofa, the Screen On The Green, where I've been going on and off for about 25 years. Although I do miss it's old snap back seats, built for discomfort and that indefinable smell, somewhere between damp wool and dead cat. Now there's a bar and waiter service and super-expensive snacks. But anyway, I've been smuggling wine and finger food into the movies forever and no doubt will continue to do so.

Top tip: get out of the cold and take yourself off to Africa, read Out Of Shadows by Jason Wallace, winner of the Costa children's book of the year but a brilliant read at any age, oh yes and he's my cousin......


  1. Lovely story about your family and films and I'm impressed with your post-xmas movie intake.

    Really looking forward to seeing The King's Speech.

  2. My favorite place to watch a movie is down in Portland. The McMenamin brothers have converted many old buildings into a sort of hotel/cinema/drinking establishment/restaurant and soaking pool retreat. You can buy a drink from their own brewery/distillery/winery and take it into the cinema, find a nice sofa and tuck into your pizza and kick back for a couple of hours. When you come to Seattle, we'll take you.

  3. Oh, that's good to hear about The King's Speech - I thought with all that hype it might not be any good. looking forward to it. I love films too - but I can't do that lots of films in a few days thing - I like to see one, then savour it / think about it for a bit. We have a good film festival locally - Borderlines. Went to a great cinema in NZ once when we were there - had seats made from old sofas - and part of an old car - I think it was in Wanaka. Did you see my previous comment re yesterday's Times?

  4. I went to see it on my birthday........ matinee performance!!! Wonderful film, just b****y wonderful! I also commented that I hope Bonham Carter does well from it as I don't think she gets the recognition she deserveds.....

  5. Dear Jo, lovely post. There's a bit of everything in there even Shakespeare and I love the watching films/men comparison.

    My earliest memory of going to the cinema is of crying during Bambi and my dad having to ply me with tons of sugar to shut me up.

    I love films but for some reason stopped going to the cinema for years (it helped that a friend worked at BAFTA and gave me the latest releases on DVD). Last year The Actor took me to the Screen on the Green and I loved it. It's by far my favourite cinema and also my local.

    I will definitely go and see The King's Speech on your recommendation. I'm a huge fan of Colin, Geoffrey and Helena. She just gets better and better. Speak very soon, C xx

  6. Unfortunately I don't get to the cinema very often though your post reminded me of the last time I did go, when visiting my sister in Singapore.She booked us into the 'gold seats'where the seats were more like beds, there was waiter service for drinks and lovely food,even a blanket which they tucked you up in.It was quite a surreal experience.Sadly I nearly fell asleep..

  7. Cinema viewing to me has lost its zing due to home viewing of the lastest release!

    I remember going to a movie walkin cinema or a drive-in movie with such excitement to not missing it before it leaves and thinking will I ever get to see it again.

    Now if you miss the movie no problem you will see it on DVD. or cable demand and T.V viewing.
    I have to agree with one of your blog comments that I so remember seeing Bambi and crying all the way home, feeling that I never wanted to feel bambis loss.

    great post "Jo" I so enjoyed your visit as well, I hope it brought back fond memories of your friends birdcage.

  8. Oh yes, I'd heard that The King's Speech is brill - must see that.

    We are miles and miles and miles from a cinema but I love it too.

    So glad I cheered you up with my silly poem. x