Above: David sits in a 1905 Carlo Bugatti Throne Chair in conversation with Peter Weyland during the opening scene of Alien Covenant. Credit: Scott Free.

How to Watch a Movie

For two years I have been going to the cinema a-few-times-a-week, always during the day, using an Odeon annual pass (£230) that allows me to walk in to any screening, any time. For the first few months I just could not process the fact that nearly all the films were very bad. It was shocking. As was the fact that all screenings that I attended were empty. (I have never sat in a screening with more than four or five others in the audience--including the first day of Rogue One. The only exception to this in two years has been the first performance of John Wick 2 at Tottenham Court Road which was ram-packed.)

So the films are dross, and in any case, nobody goes to see them. This was quite weird initially, but I soon got over it. There are many benefits to the screens being empty. (One does sit wondering how long Odeon will be able to continue to run as a loss-making business. Some of the cinemas, like Kingston, and Whiteleys Bayswater, are completely deserted, and in these venues it is quite usual to watch a film as the lone viewer.)

The other major issue of the films being bosh, I have managed to overcome by simply accepting this factor. A film which is utterly brilliant comes maybe once per year, e.g., Grave, starring Garance Marillier, or Personal Shopper. 95-percent of films are horrible. However, even the worst film will very usually have one highly memorable scene. So I have learned to go to a film in the hopes of catching one really good scene. That one scene will be worth the trip. That is how I work anyway. I only expect for one really wonderful scene, and usually I get it.

A few examples: Alien: Covenant--the pre-title sequence set in Weyland's super-minimal large white apartment where he meets and converses with David. John Wick 2--Gianna's death scene. Day of the Soldado--the Special Forces silent night-jump skydive. Arrival--the very tight sequence which begins with Louise's students asking her to put the tv on in the lecture hall, up to her being briefed as she arrives at the military base. Passengers--the scenes in which Jim, completely alone in the vast space-ship, uses the on-board entertainments and places a video-call to Earth. Dr Strange--the night of Stephen Strange's car accident, including the operating-theater banter, his getting ready to go out, the video-call, and the crash itself. Get Out--the BBQ scene where Andre tries to warn Chris to "Get out of here!" Ready Player One--The Shining scene.

All brilliant scenes ... and well worth going along to see. Overall, my strategy for getting a bang out of movies means I have to limit my expectations, but with that done, there is still much to enjoy.

(14 September 2018)