I have been able, thanks to increased vaccination rates, to do something I've not been capable of doing for more than a year and half. I can now sit in a darkened room for several hours and watch a movie. The world has changed. There are still many things to do, including buckets of popcorn, masks, hand sanitizer stations, and standees. It's not only the theatre experience that has changed, but also how I have come to enjoy movies.
Although it was a pleasant experience to be able to get out of the house, my recent trips back to the UK to see the latest movies have not been as memorable as some of the directors would like. While I enjoyed the experience of being in a theater for the past month, let me not forget that it was a great feeling. Shang-Chi was first, as Marvels cinematic universe seems to still draw people to theaters. No Time To Die followed, most recently, as if 007 truly is Britain's last hope given, well, the current state of Britain.
Both films were great fun, and the type of explosive action films that look great when viewed from the theater's screen. You haven't lived until Simu Liu rings-Kamehameha, a gigantic Cthulhu orgy full of tendrils and CGI that explodes into a stunning explosion of light and viscera. It's possible, but it's still quite entertaining to see on a large screen. I was not satisfied with my first steps into the theater experience. This is despite another realization: The two films that moved me the most were those I couldn't watch in a theater, despite it being back to normal. I wouldn't trade those experiences for a large screen or nice chair.
The films I mentioned are quite different in many ways, Evangelion 3.0+1.0 or The Green Knight. I was able to interact with them only from the comfort of my own home. This reminded me of how important hybrid releases have become. The romanticization of theaters has been a constant theme over the past year. But a good film's real power doesn't require that you see it on as large a screen as possible. The themes of acceptance, self-actualization and communal healing that Evangelions focuses on hit me just as hard as if it had been in front of me in public. The bewildering visuals of the film were as captivating on my computer monitor as if they had been viewed in front of 50 times larger screens. Given the delay between the Japanese release and the western debut, it's likely that I wouldn't have been able see it at all.
The Green Knight was a completely different experience at home. Its mood and presentation were similar to Evangelion and it inspired and captivated me at home just as much. I was able to see Green Knight live on the big screen unlike Evangelion. This was because David Lowery's haunting fantasy film was delayed in the UK several months after it hit the U.S. due to covid-19 issues. They eventually decided to release the film simultaneously via streaming and theatrical at the end September. A week later, I was excited to book my ticket and found nothing. The Green Knight was not shown anywhere within an hour of my home. These screenings were canceled to make room for No Time To Die, which was due to arrive that weekend.
I had the option, but it was gone. I booked Bond tickets, enjoyed that film, and then went home to stream The Green Knight, which I enjoyed even more. The fact that The Green Knight was still accessible, despite the increased demand for it in theaters is a testament to the dramatic changes made by theater and film industries in the last 18 months in order to adapt to a rapidly changing world. Without waiting several months for a home-release, which would have meant constantly reading and ignoring commentary, what quickly became one of my favourite full-stopmovies would not have been possible.
These films resonated with me despite being seen in a way that was not intended by their creators. Every time I hear another argument that certain things must be seen in the context of a theatrical experience, it rings a little hollower. It is a reminder that having more access to movies means you have more chances of finding the ones you love, regardless of whether or not youre willing to return to theaters.
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