Sunday, 17 May 2009

Home movies

Films are one of the nearly-essentials of modern life. Books, music and art are the real thing but films run close because they just blitz the senses. Well, good ones do.

Even if you're not particularly enjoying it, there's no denying the powerful emotional impact of a movie. It can make you laugh, cry, or just plain nauseous. One film made me faint right off.

There's never sufficient time in life to take in everything you want to see at the cinema so we just joined one of those dvd club which send you a couple of films a month and you post them back, just to see how it goes.

I didn't think it would be much cop, to be honest. We Sky+ films and then delete them because there's no time to watch, lacking time partly because I feel you should see a film from beginning to end with no interruption to get the full flow and effect.

In the living room, no matter how comfy the sofa (and ours is lush) at the dramatic moments when you shriek, you shriek alone – not like the cinema.

In the cinema the absolute best moments are when the audience is more than the sum of its parts; the intakes of breath are positively choral, the squeaks of fear orchestrated to the split-second and the mass snufflings (I'm thinking final scene of Romeo and Juliet..and more recently Marley and Me) signal emotional upset on the grand scale. The Jaws moments, the Silence of the Lambs moments, the ET moments – all times when the experience transcended mere cinema and branded itself memorably on your soul.

But there are compensations when you watch at home. You don't have to be quiet or sit still. You can eat, drink and heckle. It's all very Shakespearean. We are like the groundlings, getting a bit lairy and raucous. Heckling and laughing and inserting lines which explain the action or which the characters should be saying in order to make it ridiculous.

We had a particularly good time with Van Helsing the other night. Hugh Jackman. Well, you would, wouldn't you?

Considering it's not my goblet of gore at all, it was astonishingly entertaining. Until his clothes all started to fall off, Jackman mostly wore big hat and a long dark coat and was accompanied by Kate Beckinsale looking demure and very like one of the great forties movie beauties.

I haven't watched that genre since Peter Cushing packed up so it came as a shock to realise that werewolves wear underpants before they go all furry. And when the fur comes off, the pants stay on. Decorous, I call it. Like the old days. Fangs for the memories.

The pyrotechnics in the hall of the Vampire in Chief were amazing – worthy of Merthyr Tydfil on bonfire night but without the blazing cars.

Then there was Kate Beckinsale shinning up a rope in a corset. Respect! I was always hopeless at shinning up anything. I have weak girly arms. But so has she. I can't help but think a special effects man was giving her a bunk up. Well he would, wouldn't he?

The monk made me laugh when he got an offer he couldn't refuse from a bawdy wench.

“But he can't! He's a monk!!!!” I exclaimed.

“He's just a friar” remarked DT man.

“And I think she's ready to sizzle.”

I lobbed a breadstick at the screen in disgust. You could never do that at the cinema.

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