Jonathan Fryer

Rediscovering the Joys of Cinema

Posted by jonathanfryer on Sunday, 18th March, 2012

When I was a kid, I used to love to go to the local cinema for the Saturday matinées: two feature films, with some cartoon shorts in between, all for the price of sixpence. Later, I remember sitting through the animated film 101 Dalmations (Walt Disney, 1961) in two consecutive screenings. The only other time I’ve done that was much more recently: Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland (2010), on a long distance plane journey. At university the cinema was my main form of entertainment and I was fortunate soon after resigning from being a Reuters correspondent in Brussels to be offered the part-time job of film critic for the Belgian English-language magazine The Bulletin. This entailed two daytime screenings on Mondays and Tuesdays (with drinks in between, provided by the distributor) and one on Wednesday morning. In the course of six or seven years I thus saw many hundreds of films, some brilliant, many indifferent and a depressing amount appalling. One plus side to the assignment was that I usually got to meet film directors and actors when they were in town, but I have to say that by the time I returned to London I was sated. I hardly went to the cinema again for a decade or more. In fact, it is only since I happened to catch Niels Arden Oplev’s Swedish-language The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2009), being screened in the open air on the top deck of a cruise ship on which I was lecturing in the eastern Mediterranean last year, that I felt a sudden pang of nostalgia. What’s more, this prompted me to go regularly to the cinema again, notably to my local in the East End, Genesis, which does a £3.50 ticket for concessions. I’ve been lucky recently with a whole series of great films, from Hugo to The Artist and The Iron Lady. And I hope experience and the trailers will help me avoid the sort of lulus I sometimes used to have to sit through in Brussels.

 

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