The Best Argument for the Movie Theater Experience is ‘Matinee’

Ah yes, the joys of screaming/crying/throwing up alongside your fellow man.

Welcome to The Queue — your daily distraction of curated video content sourced from across the web. Today, we’re watching a video essay that explores why Matinee is so underrated as a “movie about movies.”

The “movie theater vs. home media” debate continues to quietly rage on. And one of cinema’s more vocal defenders, one James Cameron, has thrown a wrinkle of nuance into the ring. In a recent interview with NPR, Cameron clarified his views on why people should see movies in the theater.

According to the director, movie theaters don’t just boast the trappings of modern exhibition (e.g. high frame rate, AVX, and 3D). They also force you to pay attention. Per Cameron:

Going to a movie theater is less about the size of the screen and the perfection of the sound system. And it’s more about a decision to not multitask. I think that’s the critical part that people are missing. You’re making a deal between yourself and a piece of art to give it your full attention. And you don’t when you’re at home. People don’t cry as much when they watch a movie at home as they will in a movie theater. You don’t have the depth of emotion.

I bring up Cameron’s argument because it feels diametrically opposed to what Joe Dante is arguing in Matinee. And somehow, I agree with them both. Released in 1993, Matinee is one of the few “movies about movies” to center the audience rather than the filmmakers. Set in 1960s Key West, the film follows a community petrified of nuclear war. Enter: Lawrence Woolsey (John Goodman) a producer who thinks that a horror movie is the perfect way for the community to stare death in the face … with the help of some William Castle-like gimmicks, of course.

Where Cameron seems to envision cinema’s value as an insular, meditative experience, Dante proposes something far more communal. Both can be true, and cinema is all the better for it.

Be warned. The following contains spoilers.

Watch “Matinee: The Most Overlooked Movie About Movies”

Who made this?

This video on why Matinee is the most overlooked movie about movies is by Andrew Saladino, who runs the Texas-based Royal Ocean Film Society. You can browse their back catalog of videos on their Vimeo account here. If Vimeo isn’t your speed, you can give them a follow on YouTube here.

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Meg Shields: Based in the Pacific North West, Meg enjoys long scrambles on cliff faces and cozying up with a good piece of 1960s eurotrash. As a senior contributor at FSR, Meg's objective is to spread the good word about the best of sleaze, genre, and practical effects.