Our writers reflect on the theatrical moviegoing experiences of the past.
The Paramount is the first theater I formed an attachment to for a reason other than it being a nearby multiplex. I have inevitable nostalgia for a space I haven’t entered in a decade: I don’t need to see it in person again to realize the lobby was even smaller than I probably registered.
“Hit” movies have largely been eradicated from my theater-going diet—a rather cleansing effect. Yet I find myself missing that view from the balcony, the feeling of peering down at those churning, sexless spectacles, and the slightly melancholic indifference of it all.
At peak attendance, I was averaging three screenings a week, sometimes with a date or with girlfriends, but just as often alone. Unfettered by school, an uncertain future, or the world at large, I would plop myself down fourth row center. Just me, my popcorn, a sketchbook, and my feelings.
Doc Films did not just allow us to access film history; it allowed us to express, in however humble a fashion, our own place within it and within contemporary film culture, one that only lives as a social endeavor carried out and fulfilled in a collective space.
The Brattle, the Castro, and NYC’s great repertory screens, including its crown jewels, Lincoln Center’s Walter Reade and the Sumner Redstone Theater at Museum of the Moving Image. Right now, they’re just empty rooms, but they are also the settings for some of my life’s most profound, moving, and transformative artistic experiences.