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meet me at the cinema

Big screens, red seats, lighted stairs, the smell of popcorn is in the air. Cinemas have a special magic.

Much like its counterparts the theatre, the cinema is a place where you can let go of expectation and reality. Pause your disbelief for a few hours – yes, this man can fly and this car has indeed jumped from skyscraper to skyscraper and the couple in this romcom had a nice, neat happy ending after all their fights and turmoil.

Whether you’re sneaking in an oversized takeout purse or stocking up on candy at the concession stand, the theater is one of those weird places where you can be alone with other people. Your thoughts in your head in the silent darkness, but a shared experience of history and adventure on screen.

Unlike in live theater, the film continues on the screen just as it would without you. It doesn’t require your energy in the room, your anticipation and anticipation, and it doesn’t give you your energy back. That makes it maybe a little less magical than a live performance. But cinema can offer feats of polished impossibility. A wizard boy, an animated adventure, a shell with even shoes, or a universe of possibilities. (Marcel the Shell with shoes appears to be performing at Loma tonight and Everything Everywhere All at Once will also be running this weekend).

Now I’m a person with a smartphone and a Netflix subscription, and I’ve been known to watch movies on my tiny phone screen curled up in bed. I’ve seen more than my fair share of YouTube videos and social media reels – those short clips of random life, advice, or humor. But all this video doesn’t have the same magic as a carefully written, carefully edited film. Viewing on a six-inch by three-inch screen will never offer the same grandeur as one that spans 30 or 40 feet.

Just a year and a half ago, movie theaters looked like they were about to die out. The time window in which films remain only in cinemas has been shrinking for decades. Streaming makes it easy for movie studios to make brand new movies available on a home TV without anyone having to buy a pesky DVD. Then, of course, the theaters had to close, because during the spread of a contagious respiratory disease, being in a room full of strangers isn’t the best idea.

But cinemas have reopened and are still doing business, defying direr predictions of their demise.

And I’m thankful for that. I know a good story is a good story is a good story, regardless of the size of the screen you’re watching it on. But going to a real cinema makes a film an experience that inspires and is remembered. You get cute before you go, you buy the tickets, you meet your friends, have snacks together, and ideally have some late night dinner food afterwards to analyze the ups and downs of the movie. What special effects looked cheesy? Which plot points didn’t make sense? How moved were you by the moment the hero failed? Better google someone who wrote this score because it was just that good.

I have no intention of canceling my Netflix subscription, but passively accepting the next episode’s play will never have the glamor of going to the theater.

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