Going to the movie theater is a bit like watching a train go by.
It’s approach is far off. Almost insignificant. It’s like a little speck off in the distance. A text message, “Want to see The Departed on Friday?” You don’t think too much of it at the time, though you know it’s coming.
But suddenly Friday night rolls around, and the parking lot is fucking packed. “I’m on the 6th floor of the garage, stuck between an oversized Tahoe and a big pole, I think next to the Crate & Barrel. Where you at?”
You, my friend, are standing in line of course! In concessions. You’ve spent the last 20 minutes of your extremely significant existence contemplating between a Coke Icee or Blue Raspberry Icee, only to realize in your temporal stupor, that the obvious choice is clearly a 50/50 combination of both. “That’ll be $39.42. Do you have a Regal card?”
But the magic of seeing a movie shouldn’t be lost in the 5-6 potentially problematic steps that it takes to get there. The magic of going to see a movie is when 500 fully-grown, and not-so-grown, human beings of all interests, denominations, beliefs, and creeds, can shut the fuck up for 120 minutes and find something bigger than themselves to relate to.
Going to the movie theater is a bit like going to church. You sit in silence. To absorb. To listen. And if the sermon is any good, you will be humbled. I realize now that I go to the movies because I want to be humbled.
And that’s one of the greatest lessons I’ve learned from this pandemic. There’s still nothing like going to see a movie in the theaters. Like going to a concert or a live show, it’s collective effect and hold on us on as a species, on a primal level, is unmatched.
Because while there are still great movies and shows releasing to streaming platforms amidst the theater lockdown, none of them have ascended to the levels of great theatrical films PRE-COVID.
Imagine a film like Parasite debuting on Amazon Prime right now.
It would still breakthrough, surprise audiences, and be the great film that it is, but it would inevitably get a bit lost. Diluted by the mass of information, the mass of content out there. And it would only be partially as potent when you have the ability to pause at any given time to your convenience.
When you’re in a movie theater, the film moves you, not the other way around.
And so when the train finally arrives, and it is thundering along next to you, shaking the ground from 5 feet away, there’s really not much to do but to stand and stare, or to look away. To be humbled.