So you’re off to the cinema to see a film. Why? I don’t ask why you are going to the cinema as such (Boredom? Procrastination? A new love interest?) but rather, why are you going to see the film that you are, and not any other out of the thousands that have been made? At most mainstream cinemas, you certainly don’t have that much choice in the matter. And all of your options are likely to have one thing in common.
They’re new. If a film’s not new, you’d just rent it, or perhaps download it. Going to the cinema has become synonymous with seeing the latest releases. Anything that isn’t new has been banished from the screens of most modern cinemas.
But why this tyranny of newness? Undoubtedly the big screen is the better medium for experiencing films. Detail is amplified, effects heightened, sound quality should be better (something many multiplexes seem to have forgotten) and what’s more, the cinema transforms watching films into a communal experience, something to be shared with the rest of the audience.
How can it be fair that we’re only allowed to experience the latest releases in this way? There must be better ways of deciding which films merit a big-screen outing other than the date on which they were released.
This is the starting point for the Monorail Film Club. One Sunday every month at the Glasgow Film Theatre, a different guest curator gets to show a film they’ve picked for reasons rather more compelling than ‘It’s out this week.’ Try, ‘It’s a brilliant glimpse into how different Glasgow was 25 years ago’, or ‘It’s one of the most stylish films I know’. That kind of thing. And because the guest curators are chosen from among the great and the good of Glasgow’s music and art scenes, their film choices can provide a fascinating insight into their own work, too, through the form of an introductory talk or perhaps a post-film discussion.
Since its foundation last year (in partnership with the renowned Monorail record shop/café/gig venue down in the Merchant City) the MFC has welcomed Alex Kapranos, Stuart Murdoch and acclaimed Glasgow artist Toby Patterson, among others, to introduce and discuss their film choices.
The films selected span many decades and styles, from cult classics to neglected masterpieces, from documentaries to surreal fantasies. These are films that have taken a special place in someone’s life, films that have been watched again and again, films that really mean something to someone.
The MFC provides an opportunity to share that experience with others, and in the process to introduce the audience to something they might never otherwise have considered watching. A club this may be, but there’s no official system of membership. All you have to do is turn up with an open mind. It’s a very different approach to cinema-going from that which we’ve become used to, and something that I’d be happy to see a lot more of.