20/01/10

After I blogged about the sixties Peter Cushing Doctor Who movies a while back my friend Mark got in touch with me to say that he had seen one of them back in the seventies at La Scala, the old cinema in Inverness.

Sadly, but somehow happily, La Scala is no longer with us but Mark’s comment triggered an avalanche of memories in me.

Firstly, the time when we in the bookshop were doing a bit of cross-promotion with them as Wolfgang “good with water” Petersen’s film version of The Perfect Storm was released. I was talking to one of the members of staff and made the mistake of referring to the cinema as The Scala. “No, no,” he corrected me. “It’s The La Scala.” So The La Scala it became for me from that point on.

It was a bit of a recurring theme this problem with the French definite article. I once saw them advertising Curtis Hanson’s adaptation of James Ellroy’s L.A. Confidential in such a way as to make it look like a French art-house flick: La Confidential.

Secondly I remembered the 6pm showing of Jackie Brown I tried to get in to on the day the movie opened. As I bought my ticket I was told there would be a slight delay in the performance. Fair enough, I said. How long? Turns out they weren’t sure. The previous showing was still in progress and they weren’t sure when it would finish. They had assumed it would last an hour and a half when they booked it and were surprised when it showed no sign of stopping even after two hours.

Thirdly I remembered the showing of Entrapment (I know, I know) where there was a bunch of kids who’d worked so hard in the queue to get in. I think it was a 15 certificate and they’d been practicing their birthdates but with an earlier year. They screwed it up slightly when the ticket seller quizzed them, but she let them in anyway. I hope she realised that there was nothing in the film that was going to stunt their growth, though the film might have left them with slightly unrealistic expectations of how easy a seventy year old man (Sean Connery) would find it to pull a girl as young and attractive as Catherine Zeta Jones was at the time.

What was particularly endearing about these kids was how excited they got at the tiny bit of the film set in Scotland. When Ving Rhames was briefly to be seen driving a hire van with an Inverness telephone number on the side they all shouted “Inverness!” Bless ‘em.

I can’t mock, because I do exactly the same thing.

The second time I went to see Indiana Jones And The Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull in 2008 I was ready for the bit where John Hurt’s character Oxley is revealed to be from Leeds. I nudged the girl I was with and said “Leeds!” Bless me too.

People are quite rude about the fourth Indy film, but I didn’t think it was too shabby. It suffered from Vue Projection Syndrome the first time I saw it at its first Inverness screening. Top half of the picture at the bottom of the screen, bottom half at the top. Not a problem guys. Only been waiting nineteen years for it. And it was sweetly in keeping with the nature of the film that I had to wander off on a quest to find someone to fix it.

The film got a kicking for many things, but a lot of people have homed in on the scene where Indy escapes an atom bomb explosion by securing himself in a lead-lined refrigerator. In fact I believe the phrase “jump the shark” (a pejorative way of saying something has gone far too far, allegedly from a Fonzie water-skiing incident in a late episode of Happy Days) has now been replaced with “nuke the fridge”. But I thought it was a pretty funny sequence, and certainly not more intrinsically absurd than the mine car chase that goes deep into the earth but somehow comes out at the top of a mountain in Temple Of Doom. Also if you’re the kind of person who tuts in silly escapist fantasy films and says things like “Well, that would never happen” perhaps the Indiana Jones films are not for you.

I’m not blind to the gradual deterioration in quality of the first three films. Raiders is nigh on perfect, Temple of Doom is a bit draggy and quite racist and Crusade is fundamentally knackered by its sense of self-congratulation. They are all fun though, and it may be just as well I never had children. There’s a good chance my firstborn son would have ended up being called Short Round.

If the Indy films make Earth a more fun planet to be on the same cannot be said of Mirrors, the glum and unlovely Kiefer Sutherland horror film from 2008.

I saw the 2003 original South Korean version Into The Mirror a few years ago, and was underwhelmed by it too, though it did score further along the creepy axis than this remake. I think the main problem is Keifer’s inappropriate two-note performance. Sad. Angry. Sad. Angry. Repeat til credits.

In other news I painted a bathroom wall today and assembled an office swivel chair, but nothing funny happened while I was doing those things.

4 comments on “20/01/10

  1. Ok that’s me laughed till I nearlly cried. This gets better every day John. It’s tremendously awsome that you can keep up the PGW prose. Stephen Fry is another one that comes to mind. Saw him get an award last night and they called him a master of words. He is and so are you.

  2. I loved La Scala, its was a bit dingy and crappy but it was my cinema and was where I went in the peak movie going time in my life (cause I was in Inverness every day). If I’d won the lottery before it was knocked down I planned to buy it and start showing stuff that doesn’t normally get shown, from old classics to new indies.

    Don’t need that anymore in Ness as Eden Court does it

  3. Blimey – all that from one comment, but thanks that brought back so many memories.

    The most inverness moment was probably one of the La Scala ladies who was a friend of the family phoning my mum to check she was OK with me watching Superman on my own.

  4. I saw Taxi Driver (my stock answer for when people ask me what my favourite film ever is) for the first time at a La Scala Sunday night late showing. There were about 5 people in the cinema including me. I miss it a lot. I used to go and watch the 2pm showings of films when I was in college and didn’t have to worry about going to work! Brilliant. There was never anyone in. I also have very vivid memories of seeing Temple of Doom and Ghostbusters at La Scala. I remember queuing up round the block for Return of the Jedi and we got to jump the queue as my friends mum fainted in the summer heat. So many memories! My only memories of VUE to date are of being ripped off and irritated.

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