It’s good to be back at the cinema. In the dark, now separated from any potentially distracting human presence by two meters of yellow tape. The whole experience is streamlined and relaxed: we have to don our masks and use hand sanitiser, make our appropriately distanced-way to our seats, and once there we can remove those masks for the duration of the film. People politely banter about whatever the fuck Venice film festival is doing – “female directors at Venice? Now that’s a twist nobody saw coming,” someone mused, as though Alberto Barbera were the true M. Night Shyamalan of 2020. In truth, the experience doesn’t really feel any different to that before the pandemic – aside from the overall strangeness of entering a cinema in the first place. The sun may be shining outside, as people lounge around drinking iced lattes on pedestrianised Soho streets, but it’s good to be alone in the dark with only an unhinged Russell Crowe for company.
And, you know, you do tend to take the cinema for granted – even this writer, who in normal times would expect to go several times a week. What with our big TVs and Prime subscriptions and Criterion Channel over VPN (shhh!), it was pretty easy to just sit back and wait for the big screen to self-revive. But what a change in experience! The sharpness in the colours, the booming surround sound, that huge screen! I must sound like someone’s great grandmother dithering in the corner about the advent of the talkies. But, really, it was great to be back – you would enjoy going back. You should go back before this entire industry eats itself into oblivion. Please, be safe and go back.
Oh yes, before I forget, there’s a film – Unhinged – in which Russel Crowe dons a pair of sunglasses and slams a butter knife into the head of that guy from Westworld who looks like Christian Slater. In surround sound!
Look, it’s not a masterpiece, but there are at least five (5!) car crashes in this film, and somebody gets set on fire whilst tied to a chair. So that’s pretty cool, huh? I mean, this is a movie called Unhinged that begins – begins! – with Russell Crowe heavy breathing his way through a married couple and their suburban house with only a hammer and a can of petrol, and it only gets more unhinged from there. It’s especially unnerving, because Crowe completely blows through the performance and you get the sense that he (hilariously credited as ‘Man’ in the credits) is actually playing himself – an actor driven to insanity by four months of inactivity and the collapse of the film industry. Which is to say, if you don’t want to be stalked by a murderous A-list celebrity, go to the fucking cinema and revive its still-warm corpse.
There’s like, some stuff in there about post-9/11 techworld self-isolation and something about frustrated men and something to be read into this whole ‘dude 2020 is just like the Weimar Republic’ kind of thing, but it’s really just nonsensical scene dressing for the killing and car crashes. Which are really good and loud.
Unhinged releases July 31st in the UK.