Cinema culture, over the years, has positively progressed as evidenced in box office sales and a drive to establish more cinemas. This progression also came with more films being sophisticatedly made in the superhero genre, drenched in CGI effects and weaving into franchises and cinematic universes where one film can narratively overlap into another. The action genre, too, has been constantly evolving. The latest installment in the Fast and Furious franchise is decidedly outrageous in its slew of over-the-top action set pieces. And, with the voguish novelty of 3D films, the cinematic experience can be heightened and immersive.
Personally, there are certain films like comedies that I prefer watching in my private little space. And this is to minimize the chaos experienced in a hall filled with people drunken with laughter. It can be mildly annoying when you are yet to grasp the punchline of a joke while others around you are chortling and cackling away. Even more distracting is when people label every gesture, every mannerism and utterance as a joke. So therefore, I like to be in a space where I can easily control what I’m consuming.
Unlike comedies, I can watch horror films anywhere. But because I derive a small pleasure in watching people squirm and flinch in their seats, I usually feel inclined to take the cinema route. In 2013, while watching the supernatural horror film The Conjuring in my local theatre, a young lady seated beside me had repeatedly buckled and twisted in fear. Her discomfort was palpable, and occasionally she would grab my arm to anchor herself. And when she couldn’t take it anymore, I watched her clumsily grab her things and scamper out of the hall. The Conjuring, and even the following sequel, employs a great deal of scare tactics. And it made me wonder if she didn’t realize what she was getting herself into.
For some, a film might demand a bit more attention on their part if they are historical dramas or period pieces, especially if the reason is purely academic. 2017 had a slate of films retelling history, from Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk to Kathryn Bigelow’s Detroit. I particularly enjoy war films in the cinemas because some of them have the capacity to be sensitive and empathic and humanizing. And there’s always that collective sympathy heaving over when destruction and suffering is thrust through the screen and people just have to choicelessly sit there and take it.
Films in the disaster genre can blow up with illusive magnitude when shown over a wide projected screen. Earthquakes, floods, tsunamis, volcanic eruptions and pandemics can be visually amplified for a more visceral effect. Fantastical creatures, like those in the Harry Potter and Hobbit series, can loom and tower. Importantly still, nothing beats that sensation of watching a film in a cinema for about two hours, your eyes readjusting to the light as you shuffle out and feel like you have stepped into a new world.