Hay’s Daze: Happy to be left out of the picture

Talk about being out of the loop. Head in the sand. Uninformed, out of touch and hopelessly clueless.

And that’s my normal state of mind – but lately, it’s been much worse.

Take movies, for example. Before the damn-demic, I had pretty much a full-blown habit of going to the movies. It sometimes didn’t even matter what was on.

Almost every week, I found it a nice, personal getaway to trundle off by myself and sit in a comfortable, dark movie theatre with a bag of excellent buttered popcorn and veg out for 90-plus minutes or so.

Then COVID came and you could hear movie projectors metaphorically grind to a halt all over the world.

And it’s not only pure escapism. I happen to love movies almost as much as I love dark chocolate.

In fact, back in the Neolithic Era, when I was younger and much more optimistic, all I wanted to do was become a filmmaker.

Well, that sort of became a smidgen true, in that over the years, I made a bunch of films and worked in the industry. And when I was doing that, I was as happy as a dog with two tails.

But, of course, in Canada (and everywhere else on Earth), it’s basically impossible to make a living working in the film industry, so I eventually joined the ranks of plain, old movie buffs who still sit in theatres and know what they’re seeing on the screen is, in reality, pure magic.

Of course, not all that pure movie magic is good magic – a fact that was unfortunately and clearly confirmed for me recently.

Let me back up a bit. I mentioned that I’ve been out of the game, behind the curve and out of the picture (as in “motion picture”) lately.

When the Rotten Kid said to me a couple of weeks ago, “Wow, I sure miss going to the movies,” I replied desperately, “Well, they’ve gotta be opening theatres here in Red Deer pretty darn soon!”

I knew movie houses were open in the big cities, but I wasn’t quite suffering from withdrawal seriously enough to drive 160 kilometres to go see a movie – especially during a worldwide pandemic.

And then, just for fun, I checked online. Not only are our two movie theatres open, they’ve been open for the past three months. How did I miss that?

OK, so I purposely avoid most of the news these days on account of most of it makes me chronically nauseous – especially the political stuff – especially to the south – and so I must have missed the memo.

So what did I do? I went to the movies, of course. Twice in one week. Once in each theatre.

And how did that go? Well, like most things: good, and not so good.

Most importantly, I was impressed by the safety measures taken, virally speaking. Masks, distancing, sanitization – all good, and boy, was it nice to sit in the dark, in front of a humongous screen with a bag of buttered popcorn.

The movies themselves? Not so much.

The obvious glitch here is the big movie-making machinery has ground to a halt like everything else, so even though theatres have opened, there’s very little to show.

So I sat through a couple of movies that I probably wouldn’t have gone to sans COVID, and instead of a nice endorphin rush of happiness coming out of the movie theatre, it was more like a burdensome weight of disappointment. Sort of like being an Oilers fan.

This six months is the longest I’d ever gone without sitting in a movie theatre. But lately, being out of the loop might actually be better than being in it.

Harley Hay is a Red Deer author and filmmaker.


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