COLUMN: Movies are a big part of my reel life

The past three months without big screens have left a hole in my life

I haven’t been in a movie theatre for three months.

Now that’s a sentence I never thought I would ever write. Movie theatres are some of my favourite places to be, especially the virus-free ones.

So when it was announced that movie theatres and other popular gathering spots would be permitted to open again starting Friday, I felt a little light-headed there for a while.

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Oh sure, I’ve binged on movies online for the past pandemic period, that’s for sure. But, of course, it’s just not the same.

Some movies are meant to be seen on a screen the size of a house in a comfortable, air-conditioned room, with a quadraphonic sound system. And then there’s the popcorn. Try as I might, I can’t seem to replicate movie theatre popcorn at home.

Hands up if you’ve ever driven to a movie theatre and popped in to buy a nice, big bag of buttered popcorn to take home, without even seeing the movie. I know I have.

Movie theatres are special places, and I’ve been to a lot of ‘em. Even though I can’t possibly be that old, I’ve been to the old Crescent Theatre (red seats) and the old Capital Theatre (blue seats) downtown on Ross Street. The wonderful Paramount, where the remand centre is now (coincidence?) had an awesome balcony.

Every person should experience a balcony in a movie theatre. How else are you going to toss the remains of your five-cent horseshoe sucker over the edge into the throngs below?

The Park Plaza was our first multiplex, with two, count ‘em two theatres, which soon expanded to five.

There have been countless family movie outings, with the very young Rotten Kid, the Daughter One, sitting on my numb knee the whole time.

And I made a point to see the last movie on the last night at the Park Plaza before they tore it down. I don’t even remember what it was. My eyes were kinda blurry.

Favourite movies make memories. I saw The Graduate with my bandmates when we were teenage punks in our band bus in a campground in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, of all places, and we went downtown to the theatre.

The Better Half and I happened to be in Kelowna on a holiday when we decided to take a chance on a little movie called Star Wars.

I saw the original Agatha Christie’s Murder On The Orient Express in Calgary, and Steve Martin at his delightfully stupid best in The Jerk in Edmonton.

We recently saw the Better Half’s beloved Minions movie at a very small, very old, very funky movie house in the unlikely town of Fernie, B.C.

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I could go on – it’s a long list. The point is, there’s something about a movie theatre that has always held a bit of magic for me.

First and foremost for me, of course, it’s the movies up there on the screen. The stories they tell, the worlds they create. Especially when you’re a kid on a bike heading to the Paramount Theatre every Saturday afternoon to see what happened to Zorro or Buck Rogers, or the Little Rascals since the week before.

But admittedly, a lot of movies aren’t really worth the price of admission – especially these days (now there’s an old fogey statement for you).

But, still, I go. Mostly solo. It’s my escape, and a nice chance for the Better Half to get rid of me for a while.

And sometimes, I don’t even care what the movie is. I just like to sit in the dark for a while with a really nice bag of popcorn.

But what’s it going to be like in this pandemic purgatory?

Maybe I’ll finally go to a restaurant instead. Or maybe just stay home for a little while longer…

Harley Hay is a Red Deer author and filmmaker.

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