Thursday, August 6, 2009

Plaza Classic Film Festival 2009: An Introduction

It's good to see movies being shown at the Plaza Theater again.

The first Plaza Classic Film Festival was sensational although the Western-themed opening light show did get on my nerves after the fifth time. With this the second year, I intend to report on the films I see.

Last year, I saw seven films overall. This year, I hope to see nine. 

What's great about the festival is that people get a chance to be exposed to great films in a great setting. I've said it before and I'll say it again: I have nothing against multiplexes. However, they strip away some of the elegance that there was to seeing a movie. Movies used to be an event, something you did that was to be savored.

Today, it seems the most important thing is how much money a film made the first week-end, as if the total it takes in equals the quality. Seeing a movie in a Movie Palace like the Plaza and seeing it in a multiplex is like the difference between making love and having sex: both are the same activity, but the first involves passion, the second merely mechanics.

It's unfortunate that too many people nowadays have been robbed of a true Movie Watching Experience. Places like the Plaza Theater remind people that once, not too long ago, the cinema wasn't a place where one sat passively and let the images ooze into your brain. Rather, you became a participant in the joys, pains, struggles, and/or triumphs of the characters on the screen. We laughed with the Marx Brothers, wept with Davis & Crawford, sang & danced with Mickey & Judy, fell in love with and alongside Bogart & Bacall.

As I think on it, cinema is still a collective experience, but somehow the elegance of the movie palaces like the Plaza lend it an extra touch of class that the larger screens somehow miss, at least to me.

That leads me to my second point about the importance of classic film festivals like the Plaza Classic Film Festival. These films should be seen by everyone, and to those who've never seen them but are going to, you're in for a real treat. You'll discover movies can be good as well as fun.

Tragically, many people won't see a pre-Star Wars film, not because they can't but because they don't "want to be bored". They've judged something without even knowing what it is they're condemning.  Events like the Plaza Classic Film Festival allows for those who have never seen these films a chance to be exposed to things outside their comfort zone.

Film festivals serve two purposes: to bring films to audiences who have never seen them and to bring films that audiences have seen multiple times. I hope that people will appreciate just how fortunate we are when it comes to film festivals like the Plaza Classic Film Festival.

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