Movie club

Amazing Grace is finally coming to the movies: Slate Movie Club 2018.

In Slate’s annual Movie Club, film critic Dana Stevens emails other critics. This year, K. Austin Collins, Amy nicholson, and Wedge Ebiri-about the year in the cinema. Read the first entry here.

[bursts through wall like the Kool-Aid Man]

Did anyone say paradigm shift of exposure?

Like most film critics, I spend a lot of time thinking about the evolution of cinema and its future. For a brief moment, it seemed like all was well: we had MoviePass for new films and repertory cinema, FilmStruck for classics and arthouse, a whole universe at our disposal for the. monthly cost of a fine cocktail. . At the end of the year they were both effectively shut down, FilmStruck shut down by its new parent company’s lack of interest in anything remotely ‘niche’, MoviePass rendered virtually unusable by its sagging capitalization. free. (It turns out that setting money on fire isn’t a viable long-term business strategy!)

The rise of Kanopy – where, for the first time, the (almost) complete works of America’s greatest filmmaker, Frederick Wiseman, were finally made available to the general public – has been a ray of hope. But there is still too much that never even entered the digital realm: Bernardo Bertolucci’s obituaries made little mention of The spider’s ploy, which could be recognized as one of his greatest films had it been available outside of the VHS era. (Bilge’s, naturally, was an exception.) And while I look forward to the February release of Charles Burnett’s Criterion Sleep with anger, it is infuriating that his masterpiece has been largely out of sight for an entire generation.

Like all of you, I have had many of my most memorable cinematic experiences in less than impeccable circumstances; so much of my film education took place in standard definition on a 13-inch tube screen that it would be beyond hypocrisy to get excited at young people ingesting classics on their phones. But there are times that only happen in theaters, and they’re worth looking out for, regardless of the inconvenience. Movie buffs like to invoke the idea of ​​cinemas as a church, but it doesn’t have to be as strict and austere as the shingle melting pot of First reformed.

Waiting for the world premiere of Aretha Franklin’s concert documentary amazing Grace, another decades-delayed project that finally saw the light of day in 2018, the woman next to me apologized in advance: “I grew up with the album,” she told me. says, “I’ll probably sing along with it.” Since the album that resulted from the session, recorded live at the New Temple Missionary Baptist Church in Los Angeles, was the biggest seller of Franklin’s career, my seatmate was not the only one. It’s one thing – an amazing, mind-boggling, uplifting thing – to hear Franklin’s 11 minute version of “Amazing Grace” on the album; another thing to see his congregation dissolve in tears of rapture and joy; and yet another thing to realize that those same tears have rolled down every face in your row, 46 years later.

Watching this movie in a room full of people who had waited a lifetime for it was less like watching something that had already happened and more like feeling it was happening again. Digital access makes it seem like everything is available at all times, but it can undermine movies of their urgency. Our long lines become like heaps of unread New Yorkers, a monument to unrealized intentions. (As Kam points out, you can watch The tale when you want. Do you have?) The future of films might show them not more often but less, rarely enough that each screening feels like an event. If selling the cinema as a sacred space doesn’t do the trick, maybe FOMO will.

-Sat

Read the previous entry. Read the following entry.