For the second time in the last two months, I went to an actual movie theater. The choices are fewer and fewer in San Francisco as theaters are closing down left and right— including the beloved Castro Theater! (Not wholly closed, but just open sporadically for film festivals and stage shows). Despite the ease and convenience of watching everything at home, there is no replacement for the big screen and the fellow viewers. It has been an ongoing part of my life and I’ve missed it.
But one thing I haven’t missed is coming attractions that assault me with constant guns and bombs and fear and distorted evil faces, all those Hollywood shoot-‘em-ups that exploit our lower chakras and brain-stem engagement with fear and survival to make their money. Using their human intelligence and precious resources to make films that no one needs to see. Especially now, when real people in the Ukraine are being bombed and shot and killed and it’s not while eating popcorn with their $15 ticket in their pocket.
Okay, okay, I know we’re not going to stop these kind of films from being made, but it was my fervent hope that with the two-year reflection of the pandemic, we might come out the other end determined to do something more meaningful, intelligent and forward-thinking. That the audiences would tire of the sensational senseless violence and withdraw their support and show that we all need to do better and be better than we’ve been. That the medium of film would tilt yet further to an art form that ennobles the human soul or helps us laugh at ourselves or intrigues us with its ideas. And yes, also just entertains us to give us a rest from the actual assault of the news rather than intensify it with all the doomsday scenarios and constant rat-a-tat of assault weapons.
Last night’s movie was “Licorice Pizza,” a sweet, quirky, eccentric coming-of-age story, but the three coming attractions were 15 minutes of non-stop killing. It’s a high price to pay for going to the movies. What the hell, Hollywood? Can you just stop? Actors and actresses, can you just refuse these roles? Fellow movie-goers, can you withdraw your support so such movies are financial failures? Can we keep the best of the pandemic’s “no business as usual” going?
I hope so.