Film Education

I love watching films, but very rarely do so alone. For me, the experience of cinema is always best when shared. I have a large DVD/Blu-Ray collection which includes a number of stone-cold classics from the 80s and 90s, and have always found it a pleasure to introduce my favourite films to someone who hasn’t yet seen them. My sister Fiona has now reached the age where she can appreciate these movies, and so recently I’ve taken to inviting her over at weekends to watch them. We call it “Film Education”.

It’s a great arrangement, which gives me the excuse to experience stone-cold classics again, while also allowing me to pass on my love of cinema to my sister. The theory I have is that she’ll recommend the films she likes to her friends, and they will then watch them and spread the word further, disseminating knowledge and awareness of the classics to a new generation, and carrying on the cult of certain films that might otherwise become lost. Doing this isn’t just a public service, it’s brilliant fun.

Rather than going for “worthy” fare so far, though, it’s been entertainment all the way, with some real popcorn hits and guilty pleasures – films like Predator, Commando, Terminator and Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. My friends have all seen them, of course. They’re movies that my generation grew up with, so getting the chance to introduce them to someone new is a wonderful opportunity.

Today we watched Alien together. I haven’t been in a room with a first time viewer of that film for many years, so it was amazing to discover that, three decades after its initial release, it’s still capable of scaring new people. The shock and revulsion at the chestburster scene, the mind-fuck of the reveal of Ash’s true nature, the yelp of terror when the Alien’s arm lunges at Ripley in the shuttle… all those went down as well as they did with me when I first saw the film on VHS as a fourteen year old. Alien holds up superbly in another ways, too, with the lighting and depth of the cinematography in particular being a stunning achievement that will never grow old. Some movies are just timeless.

I’m already looking forward to the next viewing session. Man, the idea of being in the room when Fiona watches something like The Usual Suspects for the first time, or Memento… the mind boggles. I can’t wait.

I really love being able to do this. It feels important somehow. What a gift cinema is.

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