Thought of the Day

I don't believe in morality, but I believe in ethical conduct as set out by His Holiness the Dalai Lama: "Ethical conduct = a way of behaving that respects others’ right to be happy".

Friday, 30 September 2005

Cinematic experience

This week I have been really struggling to find (useless) topics to talk about in the blog. The fact is that I don't have material time to think creatively, and I end up thinking compulsively about the same boring things: buying a flat, not buying a flat; booking this, cancelling that. Yesterday Lofty and I were invited by Richard at his new house. He moved near us, and for once it was nice to have a doorstep social life. We walked to his place and back, which is a unique exception for a scattered and scattering city like London. The dinner was exalting: tender steak with cheesy backed potato and mixed salad garnished with vintage balsamic vinegar (still debating in my mind what vintage associated to a Sainsbury vinegar means. But it sounds cool). After dinner and a boring discussion about the house market (initiated and led by me), we finally set to watch the film, the Barbaric Invasions (see Arts page). I liked the relaxed atmosphere we created, and Richard's comments during the film (which Lofty strangely allowed), because it made the cinematic experience more intimate and interactive. Someone, one day, told me that they didn't like going to the cinema with friends because it is not a sociable experience. After the film, in fact, people are still with their mind inside the film, digesting the story, searching the meanings of it, still wondering about the sense of the title and assessing whether they enjoyed it or not, and don't feel like commenting and categorising it too quickly. Fair enough. It is a personal enjoyment, first of all. Words later, please. But yesterday we talked during the film (...and not much after). I liked the freedom of observing and commenting things while they were happening, always careful, of course, not to spoil the suspension of disbelief. This is certainly something you can do at home and with the right circle of friends, whereas it would be utterly annoying doing it in a cinema where even an inappropriate laugh would bother your neighbour and where, paradoxically, you go to be as lonely as you can. Although some people find strange to go to the cinema on their own, cinemas are perfect for individualists. In the past, the atmosphere was much more relaxed and friendly. Until the '70s in fact it was even allowed to smoke in some Italian cinemas, and I remember that some time ago you were admitted to it even after the film was already started. It was quite interesting to enter the film in media res and deconstructing the plot by watching the second half first and the incipit later (at the second screening). After all, this is a suspense technique that many directors have been using (think of 5x2, Memento, Two for the Road and many others). While in the *modern cinemas* you can't eat, you can't drink, you can't arrive late and, now, they also check your bags at the door. I don't know if this happens only in London in the aftermath of the attack, but all these rules make the whole entertainment less entertaining.

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