movie theaters

“I mean, it used to be so romantic to go to a movie– to sit in a great big theater that had a balcony, and boxes, and fabulous gilt trim on the walls, and a big red velvet curtain. Now we go to horrible unadorned grey rectangles where the sound bleeds in from the grey rectangles right next door. It’s sad.” -Nora Ephron 

Er: Du bist wie ein Theater. Wenn in einem Moment etwas gutes passiert dann freue ich mich mit und lache. Aber wenn dann auf einmal etwas schlechtes passiert dann leide und weine ich mit. Ich bin wie ein Zuschauer. Ich kann einfach nichts ändern weil es ein Ablauf ist den ich nicht stoppen kann. Du spielst dein Theater, jeden Tag. Ich leide mit dir, jeden Tag. 

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Throughout the mid to late 1970s and upwards, Hiroshi Sugimoto packed up a folding 4x5 camera & tripod, surreptitiously entered matinees (and, one can only presume, evening film events) and documented the interior of movie theatres across the United States–invoking a classic procedure borrowed from Conceptual Art. He would open the shutter just before the “first light” hit the screen and close it after the credits finished rolling and before the house lights came on. Using this method he was able to invert the subject/object relationship of the movie theatre and use the film itself to illuminate the proscenium and interior. However–it’s more than that, isn’t it? There is also a social and political critique implicit to the gesture. The rendering of a “blank” movie screen carries with it a whole series of alternate implications that are highly relevant to a culture of consumption.  The unavoidable allusions of mass social programming and lack of content are implicit in the act. This content, largely unaddressed crtiically, is what lends the images their incredible power–along wtih the natural fascination of being made privy to the photography’s divine birthright–allowing us to see the normall invisible–to experience a finite collapse of time.

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Filmmakers like Sarah Silverman and Steven Spielberg talk about their favorite movie theaters. 

I was naturally a loner, content just to live with a woman, eat with her, sleep with her, walk down the street with her. I didn’t want conversation, or to go anywhere except the racetrack or the boxing matches. I didn’t understand TV. I felt foolish paying money to go into a movie theatre and sit with other people to share their emotions. Parties sickened me. I hated the game-playing, the dirty play, the flirting, the amateur drunks, the bores.
—  Charles Bukowski, Women