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Personal view: Why I am exhausting myself going to the cinema




Here’s a top tip for anyone looking to sell me a newspaper or make me look on a website.

I am a complete sucker for a best of list. I will read just about any compilation of the top ten of anything.

Recent favourites include: Top ten hipster films, top fifty Olympic performances, top ten Arsenal goals this decade (or maybe, ‘the ten’ might be nearer the mark).

List season makes early December a glorious time of year for me and one of my annual favourites is the top films of the year - a compilation I usually read and wonder how so many had passed me by.

This year some of my favourites are, however, making the critics countdowns and there is a familiar trend. These lists are almost entirely compiled of films released from January to March and then from October to December. Avengers, Spiderman and Aladdin are just three of the high-grossing films released this year that I haven’t seen and, if you only look at the best of lists, they may as well not have been released. And this suits me just fine.

Abbeygate Cinema
Abbeygate Cinema

It’s actually a blessing that ‘good film season’ is perfectly timed to completely avoid athletics season (if only there was an athletics film season...). I’m a film fan, but not such a goer to blockbuster franchises. There is nothing wrong with sequels and superhero films, but one of the first things I loved about Bury St Edmunds when I moved here a year ago was that it offered an independent cinema completely free of them. I owe a lot to Abbeygate Cinema. It’s where I have seen a moving Spanish drama, a surprisingly funny documentary about a rock climber and most recently a French comedy.

I’m well-used to the pre-Oscar night season being a run-around where something worth seeing is in screens every weekend. It demands either painstaking prioritising of what to see and what to wait for the DVD rental (yes, I’m old school) - or just breaking the bank and seeing everything. But now, thanks to Netflix, ‘good film season’ has become even more exhausting. Netflix is no longer just commissioning okay-sounding TV series that I’m happy to miss, but has now started financing really-quite-good-sounding films - which are getting painfully short runs in independent cinemas in London. Without beginning another rant on how hard it is to get to London, it is sufficient to say this is quite a commitment to see a good film. I did manage to make The Irishman a few weeks ago, but despite my best efforts, I was too late for Marriage Story.

It has all made an already tough schedule into something thoroughly exhausting. Do film companies have any idea what they put people through?

In these busy times I am wondering if I too should consider getting off the ride. Why not just get Netflix and then watch the film at home? Why bother trying to see every Oscar-worthy film in the cinema? It is a debate I have with myself every year and the feeling stays with me - right until I see a top ten list of films you’ll want to see in 2020.


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