I lost my virginity in a Hamilton cinema. Of course, I wish it had been one of the better cinemas we have around now, but I’m sad to say it was Hamilton’s Village Cinema multiplex, or what eventually became ‘Event Cinemas Centreplace’ before it then eventually became that big blocked off space in Centreplace Mall. The recliners at the Lido would have been ideal for that sort of thing, but then again, at that age I was simply happy to be there.
I am referring, of course, to my first time in a cinema watching a movie on the big screen. For reasons inexplicable, I was a late bloomer in this department. So it was only when I was on the verge of teenagehood that I went to watch my first kids’ movie. It was Home Alone 2, written by John Hughes, a director who I eventually grew to like for his other earlier work (just not that one). At the time I liked that movie well enough, and my movie addiction only grew from there. I saw the first two movies of The Lord of the Rings series in Hamilton, along with the very first foreign-language films, and a lot of other films that were pretty terrible in retrospect but I enjoyed enough at the time.
It’s safe to say movie-watching in Hamilton has certainly had its ups and downs. Theatres with historical legacies like the Embassy (where Richard O’Brien once worked) and the Carlton have come and gone. At one point my friends and I were forced to drive to Auckland to watch movies because the only cinema in Hamilton at the time – Village Cinemas Centreplace – was built in such a way that a single slightly tall individual sitting in front of you would be able to ruin your movie-watching experience.
Thankfully, entrepreneurs and big bad corporations seem to have stepped in to fill the gap, although oftentimes the wait for this to happen has seemed a long and painful one. The closing of the Rialto was the most painful, but the Victoria Cinema stepped in to fill that gap. The Victoria exposed us to the joys of a really friendly set of proprietors who would remember that you were in there ‘all the time’ (or maybe that was just me?), bring cheesecake and coffee in to you during the movie, and allow you to screen whatever you wanted in their cinema. They also exposed us to some truly fantastic Israeli films, some of which – such as Walk on Water – I still think about today.
Then the Lido totally transformed the old Rialto cinema space, and Skycity Cinemas eventually redid their Chartwell cinema providing us with a high quality mainstream cinema experience too. A few years later Hoyts would move in and give us the definitive cinema-going hot dog, capitalism-themed ice-cream, and a cinema exit resembling a birth canal (all good things).
And now the International Film Festival is back for another year and a new Hoyts cinema is about to open in the CBD. The latter will no doubt be of some relief to the Lido’s staff, who I once saw had to help somebody find something in their screening list that would be similar to the ‘Fast and the Furious’ movie he had walked in wanting to see.
I’m looking forward to both the movies and the camaraderie of the International Film Festival in Hamilton. I’ve been to the same festival in other cities around the country, and the crowds mainly stick to themselves, and whilst Hamiltonians don’t bother cinemagoers who don’t want to be bothered, they certainly don’t exclude you either. I still remember fondly watching all three parts of Carlos for the New Zealand Film Festival(NZFF) in Hamilton a few years ago, and the animated discussions that occurred between each one. All of us ended up in agreement that Carlos the Jackal was quite possibly one of the most spectacularly unsuccessful terrorists ever, but that he probably didn’t care given the number of topless women he seemed to attract.
Some people worry about the ability of Hamilton to sustain such a diverse range of great cinemas. I’m hoping that it does, and I see hope in the place seeing a movie now has as part of a great Hamiltonian tradition. That tradition is one of Hamilton being the kind of place where everybody – no matter how old they are – goes out at night. I once heard a 70+ year old complain that she had been at a restaurant on Victoria Street after 11PM and had seen things on the street that would have passed for high sin in her heyday. While a lot of people doubted the veracity of this story, what I took away from it was that old ladies in Hamilton –just like the young –make a habit of going out late at night.
Now it may be true that the Lido Cinema hasn’t opened its doors late at night yet – and Hoyts in Te Awa is only just starting to on Friday nights – but a lot of people are starting to view going to the movies as a nice way to start their (hopefully) very long night. In the future, hopefully, this will mean more patrons for all of these cinemas.
So, I for one, am looking forward to starting my long nights out over the town over these next few weeks with a film festival movie or two. It won’t be pretty seeing my bank balance whittle away, but I’ll be glad for the choice and opportunity, and if the movie turns out to be terrible, well, there are always the sinners on Victoria Street.
@hornykitten is a pornstar-turned-economist, an ex-Hamiltonian living overseas, and kind of a big deal on Twitter.
Check out @hornykitten’s blog at http://randomdribble.wordpress.com/
Also check out his other guest post on lovethetron: https://lovethetron.wordpress.com/2013/01/25/guest-blogger-friday-love-the-tron-lover/