Sunday, September 5, 2010


A friend recently emailed me -

I can't find any movies I want to watch at all. I've been a movie freak all my life, but now they're all full of Jennifer Aniston and stupid stories--Dinner with Schmucks?.”

A day later I was watching a program on the REELZ Channel that indicated that the box office take this summer was truly disappointing.

I, too, used to be a movie freak. There was a time when I went to the movies once a week, or at least once every other week. I do miss the movie theatre viewing experience.

The last movie I saw in a theatre was CATS AND DOGS II in 3-D (I am a sucker for movies with talking animals). I can’t remember the last movie I had seen in a theatre before that – perhaps the first IRON MAN.

Part of it is the current fare. Action films are not what they used to be (the original CLASH OF THE TITANS was far superior to the recent remake). Male-oriented comedies are written at the level of 5th grade boys - no wit, just a lot of flatulence and other bodily function references. The late Steve Allen, a prolific writer as well as gifted comedian, warned of the “dumbing down of America” – and our current cultural scene, at least in terms of television and movies, certainly proves his predictions correct. “RomComs” may be a bit better – but I can see made-for-cable romcoms, probably just as good as those in theatres, for free on Lifetime or LMN.

Perhaps the best cable station around is TCM – TURNER CLASSIC MOVIES. While not every offering is a gem, it is certainly proof that “movies aren’t what they used to be”. There was not a single fart joke in IT’S A MAD, MAD, MAD, MAD WORLD!

A large part is the cost. $10.00 or more to see a movie! Even the bargain matinees, which I used to go to pretty much exclusively, are now $7.00. And an additional $2.50 or more for 3-D, which is currently all the rage.

I paid $9.50 to see a bargain matinee of CATS AND DOGS II – because it was in 3-D (and because I was on vacation). While the 3-D process was entertaining, it was not essential and did not really add much to the movie.

Prior to this I had never paid more than $6.00 to see a movie – except for IMAX. As mentioned, I almost exclusively went to bargain matinees and paid on average $5.00 or less.

I remember the days, 20+ years ago, when I used to see 2 movies in a theatre on a Saturday afternoon (one new and one maybe 6 months old) for $2.00!

I currently subscribe to Digital Cable and receive many ENCORE movie channels as part of my package. I can wait for a movie that I may want to see to come to cable. My package also includes ON DEMAND. While the free movie selections are truly limited, I can break down and pay $4.99 for a more recent movie if I don’t want to wait too long.

For me the absolute best value around is NETFLIX. For $9.00+ a month I get about 2-3 DVDs per week in the mail - and can watch unlimited movies online as well for no additional cost. While the online choices are more limited than the DVDs offered by mail, there is still plenty form which to choose. The bulk of my DVD rentals and online viewing is British and old American television series (some going back to the 1950s).

I admit that once or twice a year I spend over $100 to see a live Broadway show – although I prefer to purchase tickets to Broadway and off-Broadway via TDF (Theatre Development Fund) for at most $35.00, and I do belong to the New York Musical Theatre Festival, where I can see new musical productions, however small in scale, for only $20.00 each. AAMOF, This afternoon I am off to “Theatre Row” on 42nd Street in NYC to see a matinee via TDF. But live theatre is different – both in terms of the quality and the experience.

So I guess the chances are extremely slim that I will ever see you “at the movies”.


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