June 21, 2012 by timbuckler
Ah the cinema. The old picture house. The flicks, the movies, the really big screen in a dark room with sticky floors, whatever you call it, we all love night out at the local multiplex.
Or maybe we don’t. Apparently the cinema is dying. From what I hear nowadays people prefer a night in on the sofa with a dvd or an illegal rip. They can pause for toilet trips and cups of tea, they can rewind to watch bits that they missed, they can talk freely and comfortably with no threat of somebody saying sssssssshhhhh behind them, and by golly is it cheaper. Yup, it seems the silver screen is slowly fading away into the night………
Balls to that. Everything people dislike about the cinema, I crave. I enjoy being immersed in a huge image with full surround sound. I love the taste of freshly cooked popcorn, as opposed to the rubbery shit you cook in the microwave. I adore not having to wait around while your friend takes the longest piss break in the world and I relish the fact that no-one is allowed to talk to me, breaking me from the story I am enjoying to listen to their boring ramblings. Seriously, you could be my own mother, but if you try to whisper something to me in the cinema I will promptly tell you to shut the fuck up.
Unless your Max Cady. Smoke all the cigars and laugh as loud as you want to sir, I have no quarrel with you.
But the number one thrill I get from this magical place is being told a tale I have been desperate to hear for a long time with a group of friends and strangers. I do not know their names, I do not know their faces, but sometimes a film so good comes along we are all unified by laughter, cheers and screams.
“ARRRRRRRRRGGGGHH! SARAH JESSICA PARKER IN THREE DIMENSIONS!”
The last film that did this for me was the Avengers. If you have not seen it yet please stop reading because 1.) here be spoilers and 2.) we are no longer friends.
All clear? Good. Then I shall continue.
The Avengers was full of these moments for me. I remember my friend Duncan giggling like a school girl when the S.H.E.I.L.D headquarters took to the sky for the first time. I remember my buddy Jamie squeezing my arm when Captain America first appears at the opera house in full on super-hero mode, and I remember my brother Danny clapping his hands with glee when Loki declares Black Widow to be “A MULLING QUIM!”. These small parts pleased the average Geeks like us, but when the third act kicks off and the epic ruckus in New York begins, every man, woman, and child was whooping and hollering along with it. (Hulk punch, puny god and the long camera shot flying through the battle being a few of many highlights.) A part of me almost expected some Rocky-Horror style audience participation to commence.
Throw toilet paper at the screen every time Black Widow makes you think a dirty thought.
Experience’s like that make me love the cinema. And now, dear reader, I feel it is time I shared with you my personal top five cinema experiences of all time.
Once again, here be spoilers.
Iron Man (end credit sting)
Marvel movie rule number 1.) Make sure mask is fully removed for the final fight scene.
We started with Avengers so lets start with the Avengers starting. Iron man is awesome . It turned a superhero not many people really cared for into Marvel comics no.1 attraction over-night and it turned a talented but burned out actor into the coolest man in Hollywood. There are many reasons I love this film. It has that eighties/early nineties vibe like Robocop, Indiana Jones and Back to the Future. I believe this to be faith in the characters, performance and story, as opposed to faith an over use of c.g.i (YOU HEAR ME MICHAEL BAY!?) and it is pretty much faithful to the comic book, only adding small changes which I feel improve the mythology ( I prefer Jarvis being a rip-off of Weebo from Flubber than being a rip-off of Alfred Pennyworth).
But the best bit comes from the end of the credits, when Tony Stark returns home to find Samuel L Jackson wearing an eye patch. He tells us his name is Nick Fury, and that he wants to talk to us about the Avengers intuitive. End film. Lights up. “Did he say…..was that……THE FUCKING AVENGERS!?”
Two Geeks a couple of row’s down from us, without saying a word, stood up and high fived each other. That brought a tear to my eye. Then five years and four films later, we got the Avengers. They did it. The crazy bastard’s actually did it.
Nick Fury. A one-eyed, battle worn champion of justice. Just like my dick.
South Park: Bigger, longer and uncut (Asses of fire)
This movie warped my fragile little mind.
I was 12 years old when the South Park movie came out. Rated 15, I turned to my friends Adam and Scott to help me get into the cinema. They where a little older than I (but still under-age as I recall) and they where blessed with the beginnings of puberty, where as I was still a fresh faced, Sonic t-shirt wearing child. It took a lot of hair gel, button up shirts, jeans and ol’ boots that where to big for me, yet added an extra inch to my height, before the transformation was complete. It was less like a teen comedy make-over, and more like the creation of the Frankenstein monster (I stumbled around like him too due the oversized foot wear).
“Sweet popcorn and a large pepsi please sir”
But the most important part was my date of birth. I had to remember I was now born on the 18th of April 1984. I kept it on loop in my head all the way to the box office queue “18/04/1984, 18/04/1984, 18/04/1984”. We neared the front of the queue, my hands wear sweating and my body was shaking. Adam paid for the tickets, I thought we where home free. Then the witch like creature behind the glass booth stared at me straight in the eye and asked “Sorry, how old are you?” 18th OF APRIL 1984!!!! was my high pitched girly voiced response. I had fucked it. Stacked it at the age question I had been practising all afternoon.
Then something wonderful happened. She laughed and said “Go on then, but I didn’t see you.”I don’t know if she took pity on me, or was impressed at the great lengths I had gone too to mask my youth. All I know is that the Wicked Witch of the West had transformed into the Good Witch Glinda, and off we all skipped down the yellow brick road which was the cinema lobby. We got our popcorn, sat in our seats and witnessed something amazing. In the first ten minutes of the film, the boys are too young to go see the Terrance and Philip movie “Asses of fire”. So they have to find a way to get in, because no way are they missing the movie based on their favourite t.v show. Never have I related to a character more than I related to Kenny right then. (I was Kenny because I was the poor one who mumbled and swore a lot). Art and reality where one, and you bet your sweet buns we singing “Uncle fucker” at the top of our lungs on the way out of the theatre.
“Fuck off you donkey raping shit eater!”- Eric Cartman to box office attendant.
Star Wars episode I: The Phantom Menace (opening titles.)
And so a new generation of stick fight injury’s begins.
You know when you hear a song on the radio from an album you love, and how when it ends your brain automatically expects the next song from the album to play? Well me and my friend Miles where discussing the other day how we get that from studio logo’s at the start of films. Whenever I see United Artists, I expect the word “ROCKY” to pan across from the right of the screen. When I see Paramount logo, I expect to fade into a real life mountain (Raiders of the lost ark, in case you are a complete fuck-wit) and when I see the 20th century fox logo, complete with fan-fare, I expect it to be followed by the green Lucasfilm logo, and the most epic sentence of all time.
Phantom menace came out in the summer of 1999. Thankfully it was a P.G so I did not have to wear my Frankenstein disguise, though I did feel under dressed, what with the Jedi’s and Stormtrooper’s waiting outside the door on opening night. The 20th century fox fanfare blasted, the Lucasfilm logo shone, and there it was. Blue font across a black background, the greatest opening line in fictional history.
Much better than nonsense like “Once upon a time” or “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth”
There where a few woops and claps, but as soon as the theme tune hit and the scrolling text began, the audience went ape shit. I have never heard a round of applause like it in the cinema to this day, and I fear never will again. Then it suddenly hushed as we all realised we better start reading this shit or we wont know what is going on. Everyone left the cinema smiling and laughing, talking about how awesome the pod-race was, and how we where going dress up as Darth Maul for Halloween. It wasn’t until a few weeks later after the fourth or fifth viewing that the rose tinted glasses started to fade, the poor dialogue became noticeable and the realisation that Jar-Jar Binks is a complete and utter cunt.
“You can’t replace Han Solo with a gay rasta haddock and not expect backlash from the fans” -Danny Buckler
Rocky Balboa (end fight)
One of my earliest childhood memories is my brother Danny beating the shit out of me. Not in a horrible “Dad, you’ve been drinking again!” kind of way, but in play fight terms. Danny is 15 years my senior, so our speciality was underdog vs monster. Hulk Hogan vs Undertaker, Connor Macleod vs the Kurgan (which involved sticks and bruised necks) and the one we did most of all. Rocky.
Danny knew how to set the scene, adding commentary (ITS NO HOLDS BARED HERE IN MOSCOW!) as he threw me around the room for half an hour. Then he would let me get a lucky punch in and start humming THAT music. THAT music isn’t the main theme everyone hums while they are jogging, nor is it eye of the tiger. THAT music would be Bill Conti’s finest work “conquest”. Its the music that normally starts when Rocky makes his comeback (the best use of it is probably Rocky III when Rocky realises he needs to use Clubber Lang’s anger against him “YOU AINT SO BAD!”) To this day its gets me pumped and makes me believe the impossible is possible.
Fast forward almost twenty years later and me and Danny are in the car on our way to watch Rocky Balboa. It’s my brothers last chance to watch a new Rocky film in the cinema, for me its the first. We discuss what we want want from the film, the iconic scrolling title, a montage but most importantly THAT music.
The film begins, and blows our minds. They went for the gritty approach of the first two films, rather than the all American cheese of the others, and that suits us fine. We get our intro, we get our Montage, and we get some of the greatest speeches in cinema history.
Then comes the final fight.
But its different this time. It seems to be shot in a mixture of TV sports cam and traditional filming, cutting to stylistic black and white, and the choreography itself seems very real. No loud meat slapping punch sounds or “VHRRRROOOOOOOMS” when swings miss (got to love the Clubber VHRRRRRRROOOOOOOMS). Instead its…..well, real. I start to fear I won’t get my comeback tune, that Rocky will just go a couple of rounds and leave with his head up high.
Then it happens. The films antagonist Mason “the line” Dixon punches Rocky on the forehead, hurting his hand in the process. That keeps with the realism of the champion of the world vs a 50 plus has-been, yet gives us an excuse for THAT music to kick in. The ring-side commentator says it best: “Welcome to Rockyland!”
We then get a proper, full on Rocky fight with all the trimmings, my biggest cheer being Rocky’s inner monologue after getting knocked to his arse for the billionth time.
“What did you say to the kid? It ain’t how hard you hit, but how hard you get hit and keep moving forward, how much you can take, and keep moving forwards……get up……GET UP.”
The cinema audience started kicking there seats. I hear a voice shout from a few rows in front “COME ON ROCK!” I start weeping like a baby. I turn to my bro and see that he also has tears rolling down his face. “ROCKY, ROCKY, ROCKY!”
After the film finished me and Danny embraced each other. Which then went into a freeze frame. Which then faded into the end credits.
Batman Begins (The whole film)
“Fine, I’ll get the fucking laundry myself”
Batman/Superman is my religion. Why, I can not say (not because I don’t know, but because that’s another blog for another day). I share this sentiment with my friend Jamie and once again my brother Danny Buckler, who guided me on all things Dark Knight as a child, and paved the way for my love of comics to this day. And one thing that always bugged us is that they had never done Batman right.
Don’t get me wrong, I will always hold a special place in my heart for Batman 1989, but have you seen it recently? It has not aged well. So much of that film just isn’t right. Batman kills, he can barley move in his suit, Joker is a middled aged gangster named Jack Napier (surprised the didn’t go with “Joe Kerr”) and the soundtrack is fucking terrible. “But Tim!” I hear you cry “Danny Elfman’s theme is almost as iconic as John Williams Superman march!” That it is. However for every piece of epic orchestration there is also….Prince. Weird late 80’s Prince. Here’s the fucking Bat-Dance.
With every passing film it got worse and worse. Batman Returns was just Tim Burton having a wank, where everything had to be kooky and Gothic. Instead of an ex-prostitute turned cat-burglar, Catwoman was now an ex-secretary who was murdered and resurrected by ally-cats, giving her cat like ability. Penguin, instead of being a British eccentric crime lord was now literally a deformed penguin sewer monster man. Also Batman does a shit-load more murder.
Batman should be dark, but Batman Returns was not the right kind of dark. So they decided to switch the tone in Batman Forever and by switch the tone I mean go from a cold depressing vibe to over the top campiness and jokes. If Batman 1989 helped establish Batman as the dark crusader of justice, Batman Forever was attempting a U-turn to plummet Batman back to the thigh slapping Saturday morning cartoon days.
Actually, to be fair, the Saturday morning cartoon was fucking awesome.
Lets not talk about Batman & Robin. Just know it killed the franchise.
Up to this point the 60’s Adam West/Burt Ward TV series was the closest to the comic books of all live-action incarnations. If you look at the comics at that time its pretty much spot on, and Frank Gorshin’s Riddler and Burgess Meredith’s Penguin are still two of my favourite portrayals of Batman villains ever.
So Batman Begins was the first Batman film in almost ten years. When the new actor to wear the cowl Christian Bale was asked about how he would be handling the role of Bruce Wayne he responded with “Bruce Wayne is the mask.” Holy Shit! He gets it!
The first images of the new Bat-mobile was not a neon lit fibre-glass mess, but a fucking stealth tank. Holy Shit! They get it!
Then after the first trailer came out we couldn’t believe the possibility that we might actually be getting the Batman film we had all been waiting for.
Me, Danny and Jamie sat in that cinema excited, but a little bit dubious. The Bat-suit was still black and resembled the previous franchise, and Scarecrow and Ra’s-al Ghul weren’t exactly the most revered of Batman villains (except for Danny. He loves that League of Shadows shit.) But as soon as the film started with young Bruce falling down the well and seeing the cave for the first time we knew this was it. This was the Batman we loved from the comics, and with every passing scene the smile on our faces grew wider and wider, from the prison yard fight (“Your not the Devil, Your practise!”) to the training in the mountains (“THIS IS NOT A DANCE!”) to Batman being….well, Batman.
After the final scene with Lieutenant Gordon (played brilliantly by Gary Oldman) giving Batman a new villain “with a taste for the theatrics” calling card…..we were more than content.
Tim Burton gave us Gothic. Joel Schumacher gave us nipples on the Bat-suit. But Christopher Nolan gave us Batman. And with the third instalment of his Batman trilogy “The Dark Knight Rises” just around the corner, I can’t help but wonder what my next cinema memory is going to be.
So use the Orange Wednesday texts. Take that journey to the local cinema, sit down with out the distractions of Iphone’s, Facebook, Super Nintendo’s or what ever you kids are into nowadays, and watch a good film the way its supposed to be watched. With devote attention and respect to the people who are telling you the story.
Also, what’s you favourite cinema experience? Feel free to comment, as I would like to know.
Peace be with you xxx