Sunday, November 27, 2011

Movie Rant: When Theatres Screen Classic Films

James Dean, a Rebel Without a Cause (1955)
I've found a new obsession and I need to start making it a weekly thing.

About three weeks ago I finally got around to actually seeing a film at the TIFF Bell Lightbox here in Toronto. I've been there before, most notably for the Tim Burton exhibit a few months back. But, for whatever reason, it has taken me this long to actually buy a ticket to see a movie there.

Maybe I was subconsciously waiting for the right one, the perfect movie for the perfect first experience.

Well, it came along in the form of a Spotlight on director Nicholas Ray. I bought two tickets to see Rebel Without a Cause and took my sister. It's unlikely we could have found a better film to introduce us to the TIFF experience. I got to watch an iconic film in all its scratchy, crackly glory. No high-definition Blu-Ray edition just popped into a player. No DVD anniversary edition. It was actual film. It popped, cracked and showed its wear and tear.

I've seen Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981) in an anniversary theatrical run a few years back, but it was essentially just the DVD copy projected on the screen. Still incredible, but not quite the same experience.

Another miracle of miracles: the audience remained silent throughout the entire screening of Rebel. No talking, no cellphone-checking and no heaving around their weight in restlessness. You could have heard a pin drop. They laughed at the right moments, but other than that, nada. It's rare to have such a perfect viewing experience.

I told my friends about the great experience I had while watching Rebel Without a Cause (oh, and seeing James Dean on the big screen for the first time wasn't too shabby, either) and I recommended that we see a movie together sometime soon.

Jon Cryer and Molly Ringwald in Pretty in Pink (1986)
That "sometime soon" happened to be this past Friday night. We had a girls night and chose John Hughes' teen angst movie, Pretty in Pink. To see that wonderful piece of melodramatic teen fluff ("What about prom, Blaine? What about prom?") on screen was equally awesome -- ragged and scratched, it looked and sounded so good.

You could almost feel the audience drowning in nostalgia. With its fantastic soundtrack and quotable lines, it would appear that John Hughes movies are still meant to be viewed in their natural state -- on the big screen.

There's just something about seeing your favourite films on the big screen, especially if they were originally released before your time. To have that opportunity to go back and enjoy it the way film audiences of the past did is a huge treat for any film buff.

This must be the equivalent of what music buffs feel when they sit back with a glass of wine and listen to their vinyl records.

What classics or old favourites have you seen on the big screen?