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Non-review

By September 16, 20082 Comments

This is the column I submitted to the Capital Times last week. After a little discussion, Editor Aaron and I decided that it would serve no good purpose in running it in the paper, but it might be of interest here.

First up, I’d like to thank everyone who voted for this column in the Readers’ Poll — very gratifying. It was very nice to confirm that one is read and appreciated.

But I’m not actually reviewing films this week, for a couple of reasons which will give you an idea about how this thing gets put together. For the (almost) two years that I have been dropping this column on you I have attempted, space permitting, to cover every film that gets released in as timely a fashion as we can manage. Not because I desperately need to see the new Nancy Drew film or Curse of the Golden Flower or Meet Dave, but so that you, dear reader, when deciding what to do this weekend, will at least know that a film exists, what it might be about, and that “that clown Slevin hated it” so it’s probably worth a look. It’s a service and nobody else provides it.

This means watching upwards of half a dozen films a week on top of a full-time job and part-time study, making each weekend a military exercise in efficient time management; checking schedules for every cinema along with bus timetables, work rosters, family birthdays, you name it.

This year, the Capital Times wasn’t offered a media pass for Reading Cinemas which meant screening options were reduced somewhat. If a Readings film is playing anywhere else in town, I’ll happily watch it at that location (except Hoyts as Capital Times doesn’t have a pass for there, either) but on the rare occasion they have an exclusive I rely on radio station previews, the occasional distributor pass or the generosity of the Dom-Post’s Graeme Tuckett (as his date). With creativity, we get by.

This week, of the four films opening that haven’t already been covered, three are Readings/Hoyts exclusives which, as you can guess, is an almighty pain in the a$$.

On Saturday I discovered that I am no longer on the Penthouse Cinema’s accredited reviewers list, I’m guessing due to something I wrote in this column a few weeks ago criticising the technical presentation in two of their four cinemas. It was nothing that I hadn’t mentioned to staff at the time (who responded with a shrug) and in the very same column I praised the new cinema 3 which is a lovely room, beautifully proportioned, very comfortable and technically excellent.

I’ve always believed that, because of the intensely local nature of the Capital Times, I should review the experience as well as the individual film and if the cinema is cold (Rialto), the aspect ratio is wrong (Rialto again), the purple soundtrack is clearly visible on the side of the screen (yes, Rialto again — an easy target as they don’t exist anymore): if it effects the experience I’ll mention it. Or not. For example, I didn’t mention that at my last (final?) visit to the Penthouse I tripped over an empty wine bottle left behind from the evening before, had to close the door to the cinema myself once the film had started and, half way through the screening find an attendant and tell them that the house lights had come on.

Of course, the Penthouse is under no obligation to give free tickets to anyone, particularly if they feel they’ve been maligned, but I could have done with finding this out before I schlepped my way up the Brooklyn Hill in the rain and wasted my Saturday afternoon. Son of Rambow is the fourth film of the week, and having been turned away from it, frankly, I’m in no mood to bust my balls trying to see the the others.

I really don’t want to sound all “poor me” about this business, as I say it’s neither here nor there whether I see rubbish like Mrs Ratcliffe’s Revolution or not, but it’s Capital Times readers that miss out and that bothers me. Normal service will be resumed next week, minus any Penthouse exclusive product until further notice, but I’d be interested to know what readers think. Do you care about standards, or just the films?

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