See You at The Movies

| February 1, 2012 | 0 Comments

Its award season, the time of year when I try to cram as many movies into my schedule as I possibly can. Ever since I was a child, I’ve loved the movies. Memories are still so clear of those Saturday matinees when I could spend the entire afternoon watching cartoons and serial chapters waiting for the double feature to start. I didn’t have to wait in line at the concession stand to get my popcorn because there was a popcorn machine standing all by itself in the lobby. All I had to do was drop in some coins, hold the little bag under the chute and wait for it to fill with my warm fresh popped treat. Then my siblings and I settled into our chairs for the duration, giving us a long afternoon of cinema and giving our parents a glimpse of life without the kids.

As I got older my love for movies stayed with me despite the price, and my love of popcorn waned because of the price. As a member of the Cinema Society of San Diego I have the opportunity to see many different aspects of the film industry. I have learned that some excellent films are never released because the big studios are looking at the bottom line and making that the criteria rather than the worthiness of the film. Some of these movies may never be released or may go directly to DVD. A favorite of mine this year was a documentary called “Thunder Soul” that paid tribute to a 92 year old former band instructor at an inner city Houston school. “The Prof,” as he was called took this mediocre group of African American high school musicians and turned them into the legendary Kashmere Stage Band who toured the world in the 70s winning top awards wherever they went. This film was an inspiring and heartwarming piece that left us all with a feel good spring in our step as we left the theater marveling at the human spirit at its very best.

Besides the documentary and indie films offered, we also get to see some of the big box office winners before they are released to the general public. Because we see them early, reviews may not have been out yet. One such movie I walked into without high hopes. After all, this is 2012 and I’m about to see a silent film in black and white. What a surprise, what a great surprise, the film was terrific and the lack of sound and color only intensified how good the movie was. The critics agreed and it’s been a big winner garnering awards along the way to the Oscars.

And speaking of Oscars, my prediction for Best Foreign Film is one I just saw at our treasure of an art house, The Hillcrest Landmark. The movie, “A Separation,” is Iran’s entry, a bold film by that country’s standards which tells the story of a married couple on the brink of divorce. But the story is just a vehicle for showing so much of what is happening in that country today. Male and female rights, class distinction, the power of religion and government obstacles all play out in this well written, well acted and beautifully nuanced film. Movies can be fun and exciting, or powerful and educational and sometimes just plain entertaining. This cinemaphile can’t get enough.

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