Christopher Campbell's The Moviegoer - Unseen on the Big Screen
by Christopher Campbell
January 8, 2009
I may be a cinephile and a cinemaphile, but I'm hardly a cinemaniac, which means I unfortunately don't see every new release that opens in theaters. And I certainly don't find enough time in the year to see even a fraction of the old films that play in the New York's revival houses and museums. So I should be pickier about what I actually do see on the big screen. Yet I saw Semi-Pro, Jumper and Welcome Home Roscoe Jenkins all in the same month that I could have and should have instead seen Paranoid Park, The Band's Visit or any of the movies shown during Film Forum's Sidney Lumet retrospective (call me crazy, but I would have liked to have watched The Wiz on the big screen -- but it wasn't included in the series).
Yes, I'm a moviegoing moron sometimes, and in 2008 I felt like an idiot enough that I've made it my New Year's resolution to see more theatrically appropriate films in the movie theater. Last year I watched The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford on my relatively small television screen. I certainly couldn't appreciate its cinematography as it should be appreciated. And if it ever finds its way back onto the big screen, I'll run out and see it as it's intended to be seen. For now, though, I can only add it to my special year-end list of 12 films I should have caught at the cinema. Why 12 titles? Because my dream is to fill my new 12-plex with these theatrically missed gems and then have a make-up marathon.
Two of the selections on this list will seem a bit silly if you don't know that I'm a big 3-D junkie. I saw every new 3-D release this year except for Hannah Montana/Miley Cyrus: Best of Both Worlds Concert Tour and Fly Me to the Moon. Even if the former hadn't been nearly completely sold out, it would have been awkward for a lone adult male to enter that cinema filled with tween girls and their moms. But after seeing U2 3D, I really wanted more 3-D concert films, even if the music wasn't even close to my cup of tea. Fly Me to the Moon simply got terrible reviews, so I kept avoiding it. But now that I've lost the opportunity to see it in 3-D, I want that very thing that I can't have.
As for other retrospectives, more than the Lumet series, I'm sorry for missing the restoration of The Godfather and The Godfather: Part II on the big screen. I kept trying to find time to fit the two films together as a double feature, but it never happened, and now I'm kicking myself. Somewhat similarly, I wish I'd been able to see Che in its four-hour release, especially after reading Alex's recent post telling us New York moviegoers that we have no excuse for avoiding it (well, I do have an excuse -- I've been away for the past two weeks). I hope to at least get to see the two separated parts, The Argentine and Guerilla, on the big screen, but I'm sure it won't be the same. I also somehow skipped the Brooklyn Academy of Music's mini-retrospective on the so-far short career of David Gordon Green. Considering how much I love the guy's films, and considering how beautifully they're shot, it's nothing short of tragic that I haven't seen any of his work on the big screen. He had two new films open in 2008: Snow Angels and Pineapple Express.
I saw The Dark Knight in a theater, but I failed to see it properly on an IMAX screen. Fortunately, I'll have another chance when the film is re-released later this month. I wish the same was happening with both The Fall and City of Ember, two movies I'm certain look magnificent on the big screen. Watching either on my TV would be a great disservice to their supposedly stunning visuals. But should I simply avoid them altogether if they never end up back in theaters? One of my favorite films of 2008 is the documentary Encounters at the End of the World despite the fact that I didn't catch it until it was out on DVD. I would have preferred to see its gorgeous Antarctica locations, particularly the underwater scenes, on the big screen, but I'm happy I didn't choose to ignore it completely once I'd lost that opportunity.
What 2008 releases are you sorry to have missed seeing in theaters? Or better yet, what 2008 releases are you glad you saw theatrically rather than on a television at home? Feel free to submit your own list in the comments section below and check back over the article for my own 12 picks as seen in bold.