Choose Your Own Cinema Adventure!

Graphic courtesy of Patrick Timmer.

“Going out” is overrated. It only took you halfway through the semester to realize it. The national pastimes of Upper Rez students and former Frosh Leaders—dancing, clubbing, and bar-hopping—are only enjoyable in laser-specific circumstances. You need to be in a certain mood (read: wasted) and at a certain degree of exhaustion (read: very) to truly appreciate a sloppy night at Tokyo or TRH. As the infamous Montreal winter looms near, “going out” also means more money spent on Ubers and coat checks. These are necessary expenses, lest you and your friends freeze outside or overheat while flailing to house music.

So this weekend, you are looking for something more low-key: an event that is both affordable and memorable. Ditch the two-dollar chow mein. Tonight, you will dine on popcorn. You are going to the movies.

So this weekend, you are looking for something more low-key: an event that is both affordable and memorable. Ditch the two-dollar chow mein. Tonight, you will dine on popcorn. You are going to the movies.

You have two options. Do you watch…

  1. An indie delight—a documentary, a foreign film, maybe that new Jonah Hill skater drama, mid90s?
  2. A blockbuster epic—probably a rom-com or an action movie. How about A Star is Born?

If you picked (A)…Welcome to the theatre more alternative than a minor in Medieval Studies: Cinéma du Parc.

Everyone else at this university is vanilla ice cream. You’re rhubarb. You don’t want to watch Melissa McCarthy make a fool of herself for the umpteenth time while some CEGEP teens makeout in the back row. Please, you have standards; you call them films, not movies. You’ve read The Stranger by Albert Camus, and boy, did it change you. Next year, you plan to study abroad in a country most of your friends can’t even pronounce. In short, you’re better than these basic cinemagoers, and your choice in theatre needs to reflect that.

Located underneath an organic grocery store, this place has everything: popcorn so fragrant it seems like a health code violation; ashtrays with cigarette butts still steaming; actual adults—not just professors and campus staff. A cursory glance at the listings as you walk down the escalator reveals films with both French and English subtitles. Considering you already speak four languages (five, if you count the language of interpretive dance), this hipster haven suits your worldly, thrift-shopping self.

You don’t want to watch Melissa McCarthy make a fool of herself for the umpteenth time while some CEGEP teens makeout in the back row.

Also, at Cinéma du Parc, the popcorn is extra buttery. You could write a thesis on how good it tastes.

You grab your snacks and sink into the creaking armchair. You notice how each row of seats in the theatre is on the same plane. This feels chic and retro to you, like an army jacket, or saying “sodapop.” The projector rolls, the trailers play. You are swept into a world of colour, sound, and at least one Sufjan Stevens song. Your film begins.

If you picked (B)…grab your Scene™ card and head on down to rue Sainte-Catherine. Tonight, you are visiting Cinéma Banque Scotia Montréal.

So you’re not a Plateau hipster. You don’t speak several languages or smoke cigarettes. You vape, of-course, but only because your Juul smells like a Bath & Body Works candle. The only tattoo you’ve ever considered getting was a Taylor Swift lyric. But who cares? Just because something is popular doesn’t mean it is deserving of contempt. Case in point: fairy lights. They’re so cozy!

You walk down Sainte-Catherine and toward the neon red marquee. Immediately, you feel at ease. Every Cineplex across Canada is modelled similarly, so you know this territory well. In the lobby, you stand on a platform shaped like a flying saucer. On the second floor, the carpet turns red with navy blue swirls. Every wall is wavy, every counter curved. At the concession stand, you sheepishly order a kid’s combo. You know this routine, and you like it.

You sit in a theatre the size of Leacock 132. During the pre-show, you participate in the legendary game, TimePlay. You test your movie trivia knowledge against legions of other viewers. You come in 2nd. You are beaten by some dude named Gary who must know a lot about Bradley Cooper. Afterwards, a man in a tasteful button-down on screen reminds you to turn your phone on silent. You obey, partially to respect other cinemagoers, but mostly because Tanner from Cineplex is so handsome.

You walk down Sainte-Catherine and toward the neon red marquee. Immediately, you feel at ease. Every Cineplex across Canada is modelled similarly, so you know this territory well.

You sit back and enjoy your movie. Yes, movie. Calling them films is so pretentious, anyways.

If you picked (A) or (B)…prepare for an amazing night.

In the era of Netflix and ubiquitous, accessible piracy, trekking to a cinema is a dying sport. It is all too easy to curl up in bed with your laptop and binge-watch until dawn, but doing so would be missing out on both the camaraderie and nostalgia of sitting before a giant screen with dozens of other viewers. Laughing and crying feels cathartic when you’re surrounded by real, flesh-and-blood people. Equally as important, Hollywood studios need money to incentivize creating more quality content. Purchasing an actual theatre ticket is the most effective way you can support the creatives you love.

Tonight you are “going out,” but in a relaxing, sweatpants-appropriate sort of way. Whether you are visiting a corporation’s multiplex or a mom-and-pop establishment, you are in for an evening of unadulterated entertainment. Go wild.

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