When I first went into lockdown because of the Coronavirus I told myself that now I had no excuse to not watch all of those movies that were on my watchlist, so when I wasn’t on a video call for work I’d take my laptop and plop down in front of the TV.
Sitting down watch Thir13en Ghosts, The Island of Dr. Moreau, Blood Debts and others gave me a weird sense of accomplishment that I was making progress and actually knocking things off my extremely long list.
Then as the reality of the situation began to set in, and I became hopelessly attached to news updates on Twitter, watching movies began to feel uncomfortable. Almost like I was a bad person for not freaking out about a global pandemic.
Should I be out hunting for toilet paper?
I wonder how my friends are doing?
Where can I buy a mask?
Will Tom Nook break my kneecaps for not paying off my house expansion?
So I went for a walk, and when that didn’t help I talked to a friend about cult conspiracies as I marathoned Wild Wild Country. Then I did some very half-hearted work on my island in Animal Crossing.
What I realized during that time was that I use film as my crutch when life gets a little too real. That brief time period of escapism gives me a chance to shut off the real world and go somewhere else but when you’re faced with a situation that you can’t truly walk away from it’s not nearly as effective.
An Anthony from a parallel universe must’ve known what was going on, because one day after signing off of work for the afternoon I went to the mailbox to pick up the next movies from my Netflix DVD queue and I was blessed with 1993’s Matinee.
Set against the backdrop of the Cuban Missile Crisis, the movie tells both the story of a low-budget filmmaker struggling to meet the demands of a changing filmgoing audience and Gene Loomis, an army kid with an encyclopedic knowledge of monster movies growing up in a town on the edge of its own crisis.
It’s a great callback to a time where Saturday morning matinees ruled and amazing movies like THEM and The Tingler were scaring housewives across the country.
This is my favorite movie I’ve seen this year, and that hinges on a scene about halfway through the film where John Goodman’s character Lawrence Woolsey explain’s to Gene why he makes horror movies.
That two minute monologue captures the essence of something I’ve struggled to explain for years.
When you feel the exact emotion the filmmakers put into a scene and truly connect with it, even if it’s just for a moment, is the reason I fell in love with movies in the first place.
That feeling made me want to write and pushed in the direction that made me who I am today, and it’s a feeling that I’ve lost until recently; almost like a weirdly invigorating chill down your spine.
I found that again with Matinee. It made me start watching movies again, and I’ve been feeling more connected to them than I have in a long time.
Watching Jurassic Park makes me call my mom just to hear her voice, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy makes me feel like it’s okay not to have my life figured out and Comet (2014) reminds me that it’s okay to suck.
They’ve made me feel something other than fear.
And that’s okay.