Wasting time or making the most of it, everything’s so relative and now more so than ever before, don’t you think? After having seen so many horror and science fiction movies in Sitges about viruses, infections and contagion, what do you want me to say? I hate all this being wary of one another, within the context of a situation that keeps us on lockdown at home, home sweet home, condemned to home cinema.
That said, and still perplexed and fearful of losing those I love, I’m a darkened room, big-screen type who can barely get through an entire TV movie, here reflecting on life and cinema, which in my case have overlapped and intertwined since I can remember as, with radio, cinema’s in my veins.
But what the hell! Let’s not disregard any opportunity that comes our way to learn. To learn to do things better, at a rational speed, to relate better, to pause once in a while and look in the mirror to check how we’re doing. Oh, how I’m reminded of you, Agnès Varda, when in a documentary you invited us to stop, look at our hands from time to time and to take stock of the passage of time!
Let’s not disregard any opportunity that comes our way to learn. To learn to do things better, at a rational speed, to relate better
But, I can’t help but ask myself, was it really worth it? All those years studying and then working as a journalist to end up feeling like an astronaut, giving and receiving updates from other homes in the outside world, a bit like Matt Damon in “Mars”. That and exercising to stay in shape as I cross out the days on the calendar, waiting for the end of lockdown, like so many prisoners from famous prison movies of old.
So, here we all are. Me, who hasn’t had a sick-day in almost forty years working on the radio, now on enforced stoppage of our classic “Va de cine” program we’ve been broadcasting every Sunday on R4 and Saturdays on R5. Cancelled due to the fact that there’s no news to comment on unless a new premiere, shoot or festival has just been cancelled. Thankfully, last summer we came up with the idea of doing musicals that were more refreshing than James Bond’s Martini, with movie soundtracks from directors whose scores are cherished as if their lives depended on it; Woody Allen, Clint Eastwood, Tarantino and Almodóvar. Well, we’re going to dig these up to raise the morale of the troops.
Plan B will also be when we painfully realize, no longer living in denial, the fact that the BCN Film Fest will not be taking place as scheduled in April. Well, what can you do? You have to mine for the resources within and we’ll pull some new dates out of the hat, from June 19 to 26, when there’s a good chance that the wonderful guest actress with whom we wanted to open the festival and whose letter of commitment we have, always subject to the darned coronavirus, can manage to make her way to Barcelona. But, hey! We’ve even managed to a postpone a saint and now, the Sant Jordi RNE cinema awards, with Banderas as best actor, will be held closer to San Juan (summer solstice) on 22nd June.
When the industry comes out of hibernation and everyone starts reorganizing, then we’ll regroup, put all the puzzle pieces back together and start from scratch
I can assure you, as I’m sure you can imagine how tremendous it feels as you watch how, what we have managed to get off the ground with so much effort and love for so many months, comes crashing down like a house of cards, almost makes you not want to get out of bed in the morning. That said, you just have to move on and when the industry comes out of hibernation and everyone starts reorganizing, then we’ll regroup, put all the puzzle pieces back together and start from scratch.
I’ve really been gob smacked, if you’ll pardon the expression, seeing how generous and caring people’s reactions have been during these trying times, with online cinema forums, sharing their films for the common good, the jewels in the Film Archive’s crown, facilitating free online access.
On top of all that, as we meditate whether to give up entirely on ever having a fling again definitively, we won’t be needing the hair salon’s copy of ‘Hello’ magazine anymore. The rich and famous are throwing open the doors of the homes they’re confined to on Instagram. And I’m pleased to report that Judy Dench has a great sense of humor as she dresses up, the serenity Sharon Stone transmits from her studio where she takes the opportunity to paint as her fans encourage her to run for president, Hugh Jackman always smiling washing his hands in his bathroom, Matthew McConaughey coming across all palsy, Schwarzenegger showing us his pet ponies and that he’s really that original. I love the cool-headedness and patience, the cheerfulness of Antonio Banderas, who won’t be joining his Easter procession brotherhood but who makes us all brothers (and sisters) saying that no bug is going to take us down. I’m touched by Mel Brooks and son’s message asking us to stay home.
Suddenly everything has acquired another value
Actually, I feel so sensitive now that suddenly everything has acquired another value and I shed a tear as I read the note that someone has posted in the elevator of my parents’ apartment, the neighbors on the sixth floor offering help to others, just like in the best feelgood movies. And while I’m left wondering if this damn virus wasn’t the invention of a devilish mind so that women return to household chores, the words of a wise distributor resonate in my mind, who wringing his hands pontificated whether or not perhaps this current crisis might produce new generations of moviegoers, all those kids and young people, can you imagine the conundrum, who previously didn’t want anything to do with cinema. Life is full of surprises, that we already know, but this one at least is a good plot twist.
My heart skips a beat when I see someone daring to set a premiere date or open registration for a Festival later on in the year and that helps me to offset the stress from checking the prophecies of Nostradamus I’m bombarded with via WhatsApp, which nowadays has truly become the busiest of all highways.
We’ll come out of this stronger and we’ll once again laugh together in a cinema
So, if you have free time in between going through all those old photo albums, it’s important to really search for and seek out movies, and my critic’s soul recommends a return to the timeless Chaplin, movies that always make us laugh in the midst of the greatest dramas. The bravest among you who’re ready to face catharsis without having to get off your sofa should opt for ” Train to Busan” jam-packed with zombies, this is a truly powerful thriller and a good pick now that Korean cinema is so fashionable. Even “The Endless Trench” on Filmin can ease your sorrows. As we contemplate our protagonist’s captivity hidden in his house, played by Antonio de la Torre, it’ll make what we’re going through feel like a walk in the park.
Now, I’ve no intention of going all ‘politician’ on you, but I’m convinced we’ll come out of this stronger and we’ll once again laugh together in a cinema and project that which as a group makes us happy, without having to look sideways at the person in the seat next to us, freely like we’ve always done. I’m setting April 14th as the finish line when Mom turns, not a hundred, but eighty years old. And in June, the huge explosion of quality cinema.