A friend of mine recently posed an interesting question:
Q. What would you say were the genuinely ‘zOMFg’ films of the decade of the nineties?
Q. Which are the ones we sat in the cinema and were instantly swallowed into complete immersion by their aceness, to exit quite genuinely in awed silence from?
Now I fully intend to explore this question and pose an answer but as I thought about it, something far more disturbing came to light. The problem is, I don’t recall seeing either of those films in the cinema! I obviously remember seeing the films, I’ve seen both films multiple times. My friend is blessed with an almost perfect memory, however the more I try the harder I find it to remember.
My friend has even gone on to remind me that I saw the Matrix twice! Once with him and another friend and once the weekend before with my partner at the time. I have no recollection of seeing the film in the cinema. I remember the seeing shocking sequels at the Showcase in Leeds but not the first.
I remember seeing Star Wars with my Father at the cinema that became the Tudor and was eventually turned into Varsity & Livingstones when the multiplex (that is now the Odeon) put it out of business. I remember being offered the choice of a Choc Ice or a ticket to see The Empire Strikes Back – and foolishly choosing the Choc Ice. (I’d never had one before and was excited to try one). Thinking about it, that one choice had a profound effect on my life. Empire is by far the best of the trilogy and it was years before I was to see it – I think I eventually saw Jedi before Empire!
I even remember the last film my friend and I saw at the old Tudor. We were the only two there, if you don’t include the ticket clerk who popped in for a few minutes. I think it was Starship Troopers. The more I think back the more I realise how much I have forgotten from those days.
I remember seeing Interview with the Vampire, Coppola’s Dracula and Trainspotting at the Tudor – along with the only film I have ever walked out of, The Unforgiven (even that I may have misremembered, perhaps I fell asleep. I certainly didn’t sit through to the end)
Even recent films, I struggle to think back over the last few years and list the films I’ve seen in the cinema. Could it be that I’ve just pushed them out of my mind? Maybe its a mechanism that I’ve developed to enjoy the films when I see them again?
I suppose I should make an attempt at answering my friend’s question though. Of all the films I remember from the nineties, there is only one that left me literally gob-smacked. I remember walking out of the Tudor after seeing Trainspotting, wide eyed and slack jawed. I was physically stunned, it was moments before I could speak or probably even think.
I’ve felt immersed in films before but Trainspotting had tossed me around like a cinematic tsunami. Whether it was the way the film was made or the way the tale was told by the actors I don’t know… that being said, I had a similar reaction to 28 Days Later, another Danny Boyle movie. I have enjoyed Boyle’s other films, without being left as stunned as I was after Tarinspotting.