Going back to the cinema after lockdown was a heady mix of weird and wonderful | Film

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If nothing else, the past 12 Covid-filled months have been full of opportunities for learning. Learning about ourselves, about each other, about our country and the world. I can’t say I’ve embraced every lesson, as it’s also been a year full of opportunities for naps, but I’ve certainly learned a lot about myself.

I’ve learned how many times I can watch every episode of Schitt’s Creek before I can recite the entire script verbatim; that I prefer Zoom dance classes because I really can dance like nobody’s watching; and that I can survive for days on yoghurt and coffee alone.

The most valuable lessons have been in discovering how many creature comforts I once thought essential that I can live happily without. From takeout to pedicures, spin classes to restaurants, I didn’t cry for much during lockdowns. It’s actually been a welcome crash course in reducing my spending and checking my privilege.

What I did miss, other than seeing my friends and the world not being on fire, was going to concerts, plays and, especially, movies.

I love going to the movies. I love it a lot. Every time I go I feel like little orphan Annie, and not just because I have curly hair and no parents. I feel like Annie in the scene where the secretary sings “Let’s go to the movies” and all the house staff dance around like they get fair wages because this precocious child they now serve is going to the talkies.

But honestly, what’s not to love? Movie theatres are air-conditioned time-vacuums with increasingly comfy seats, where junk food is encouraged and attractive people distract you from your troubles. Even when a movie is bad, I still eat Maltesers and ignore my phone for 90 minutes, so everybody wins.

Cinemas have always been my happy place and the setting of many fond memories. My dad taking my sister and me to the Care Bears film; my mum taking us to The Delinquents when we were too young to see The Delinquents; holding hands in the dark with my first boyfriend; and countless midnight sessions of The Rocky Horror Picture Show.

I also vaguely recall my local childhood cinema having a live host who would do jokes, sing happy birthday, give out candy and maybe make balloon animals. It’s entirely possible these were fever dreams but, either way, it was a good time.

There have been a few bad silver screen incidents over the years, namely being dumped in a car park after Wonder Woman, and an ill-advised screening of Schindler’s List with other Holocaust survivor families. But I don’t blame Hollywood for my poor taste in men or intergenerational trauma, and nor should you.

I missed going to the movies. But at least thanks to streaming services – the third Covid-19 MVPs behind frontline workers and Yoga with Adriene – movies themselves are more accessible than ever. And you don’t have to put on pants or shower to watch them.

When movie theatres reopened after lockdown in New South Wales last year, I was apprehensive. Though I wanted to support my favourite cinemas and mainline choc tops, it was quite some time before I braved one. But when the virus seemed under control for long enough, I threw caution to the possibly contaminated wind and saw Promising Young Woman with a friend.

Being in a cinema was a heady mix of weird and wonderful. Everything seems as it was before but little things make it clear we’re not in Kansas any more. There are demarcated lines going into and out of different areas and social distancing markers all along the floors. The candy bar is a sliver of its former self, with more hand sanitiser than popcorn and, at least at the time, everyone wearing masks.

Most devastatingly, for me at least, the pick and mix lolly stations are gone. Sure, the reduced numbers of people allowed in each session make for a more peaceful and comfortable movie-going experience, but how am I supposed to suspend my disbelief without chocolate bullets and gummy cherries? I’m not an animal. (Side note: Go see Promising Young Woman. It’s epic and brilliant and if this was a review I’d be giving it four stars.)

Days after this successful trip to the talkies, Sydney’s northern beaches Covid cluster ruined Christmas and we all retreated back into our home-caves. It wasn’t until last week that I braved another big screen to see the excellent movie Incitement, now screening as part of the Jewish international film festival. I was nervous, but thankfully no infections have been reported as a result.

With all the hardship Covid-19 has wrought, it feels somewhat foolish to celebrate cinema visits. But I think it’s important for everyone right now to do things that make them happy, as long as they’re following the restriction rules and not hurting anyone. So I’ll be going to the movies again and again as long as I can.

Hafta Ichi
Source: The Guardian
Keyword: Going back to the cinema after lockdown was a heady mix of weird and wonderful | Film

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