How moviegoing has changed

The Globe And Mail: This could never pass for a masterpiece theatre. Probably everyone knows how moviegoing has drastically changed over the past five to ten years. Like David MacFarlane, I used to enjoy going to the movies. Now I dread it. Sure, I love the stadium seating and the large screens (who doesn’t?) but the whole movie-viewing process carries too much effort and frustration these days. Thankfully, a few civilised theatres remain in this city, but they are swiftly disappearing. Most theatres with any character or history in Toronto are either vacant or rubble. (Funny fact: Some of the older cinemas in Montréal have been “saved” and are now used to screen porn movies. I can’t imagine how odd it must be to watch hardcore pornography in the presence of the balconies and ornate mouldings which decorate vintage cinemas.)

MacFarlane compares current movie offerings to The Bicycle Thief:

Made in 1948 on a budget that I doubt would pay for the catering on most movies today, [The Bicycle Thief] is a stunningly beautiful film — the simplest, most heartbreaking story, the most perfectly understated acting, the most evocative cinematography, the most steady direction and — above all — the most unflinching honesty. It has no sex, no violence, no special effects. Nothing gets blown up. Nobody gets murdered and put in a trunk. No one packs any heat or goes down on anybody else. Aliens, oddly enough, don’t show up.

Just the very mention of The Bicycle Thief brings to mind its simple yet somehow compelling story, its leisurely pace, and the way it tells of human struggle with hardly a piece of dialogue. What a great film. If you haven’t seen it already, rent it, or buy The Bicycle Thief DVD from Amazon.ca. You will not be disappointed. The Bicycle Thief is one of the highlights of modern cinema.

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