Films of my life – 2000

Films of my life – 2000

Time for a look at a more recent time in my life (but still 16 years ago). Here is the best known quote from my favourite movie of 2000:

 “My name is Maximus Decimus Meridius, commander of the Armies of the North, General of the Felix Legions and loyal servant to the TRUE emperor, Marcus Aurelius. Father to a murdered son, husband to a murdered wife. And I will have my vengeance, in this life or the next.”

By 2000, Gill and I were living in North Yorkshire, with 3 active boys (James, Harry & Richard). This meant that most trips to the cinema were for family films, as our eldest son, James was only 8! More adult material, we tended to catch-up with on DVD (which started to replace VHS in the mid-1990s).

Growing up, the new millennium seemed so far away – I used to think “God, I’ll turn 37 in 2000” and as you know, when you are young that seems to be VERY old. Now, of course, I look back from (nearly) 53 and wish I was that young! Ah, c’est la vie.

Our nearest cinema in 2000 was the “Showcase” at Teesside Retail Park, near Stockton. This was one of the first big multiplexes in the north east. In more recent times, multiplexes have opened in Middlesbrough and Darlington.

showcase-cinema

courtesy of thiistockton.co.uk

2000 was not a particularly great year for movies – there was plenty of quantity, but little quality. You may well have guessed it from the quote, but before I get to my favourite movie, here are the other movie highlights of 2000:

  • X-men
  • Almost Famous- Cameron Crowe’s semi autobiographical tale about a cub reporter with Rolling Stone in the early 1970s. Has a great soundtrack
  • High Fidelity – decent adaptation of the Nick Hornby novel, relocated to Chicago with  John Cusack and a breakout role for Jack Black
  • Billy Elliot – uplifting tale set around the miner’s strike of 1984 in north east England, which had resonance for me (the miners rather than the dancing)
  • Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon – Ang Lee’s beautifully choreographed and shot tribute to eastern cinema

gladiatorMy favourite film of 2000 was Gladiator. This reboot of “The Fall of The Roman Empire” made a superstar of Russell Crowe (he won a “Best Actor” Oscar and the movie was “Best Film”). It has a great score from Hans Zimmer too. But what makes Gladiator so special for me is the sheer scale, enhanced by (at the time) ground-breaking computer generated imagery. CGI was also used to ensure that Oliver Reed completed the film, despite dying during filming. Director Ridley Scott crafts an epic tale that works on a human level. Crowe’s Maximus is one of the great screen heroes, not least because of how he stays loyal to his values and beliefs.  I’m not sure that either Scott or Crowe have made better movies in the years since Gladiator was released and it remains a favourite of mine to this day.

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Films of my life – 1977

Films of my life 1977

061132:Odeon cinema Pilgrim Street Newcastle upon Tyne Malcolm Maybury 1995

The Odeon, Pilgrim Street, Newcastle

By 1977, my cinema visiting routine was well established. I was living in Gateshead, but my school was in the west end of Newcastle (St Cuthbert’s Grammar). This meant that I travelled through the centre of Newcastle every evening of the working week, usually via the number 39 bus. At least once a week I would go to see a movie, preferably with a friend, but often on my own.

There was plenty of choice amongst cinemas in Newcastle in 1977. There was the Odeon on Pilgrim Street, which had 3 (later 4) screens, two ABC cinemas (Haymarket and Westgate Road), the Studios 1-4, and the Queen’s Theatre (70mm, curved screen). There were no affordable video players, and video rentals didn’t arrive until the 1980s, so if you wanted to see a movie, you had to go to the cinema, or wait FIVE years to see it on TV!

Star_Wars_Episode_IV-A_New_Hope_Theatrical_Release_PosterProbably because I was 13 for most of  1977, it is one of my favourite movie years. There are several movies from 1977 that are now regarded as classics:

  • Star Wars – just Star Wars, not Episode IV, not “A New Hope”, just Star Wars, which I think Dave Webster and I went to see at the very first showing at Christmas. A school acquaintance (Terry Hawthorn) allowed us to join him and his mum and jump the queue
  • Close Encounters of the Third Kind – another favourite, though
    Spielberg has re-edited it several times, and generally not for the better. It was superb in 70mm at the Queen’s.(Update: on checking, this movie was released in 1978 in the UK)
  • The Spy Who Loved Me – one of the better Roger Moore Bond movies
  • Annie Hall – a film I love that I discovered in the 1980s when I was old enough to appreciate it!
  • Saturday Night Fever – I was annoyed that my younger sister, Rose,  got to see this at 12 years old (it was an X / 18) but I had to wait 2 years before I could get in
  • Eraserhead – David Lynch’s oddity, which I eventually saw in my 20s.

My favourite film of 1977 is not regarded as a classic, but it is my favourite war movie (as in one featuring battles, I have others, such as Schindler’s List that are set in the war, but are not war movies). It was one of the top 10 earners of 1977, though.

A Bridge Too Far Original Half-SheetSo why does it have such a special place in my heart? Well, it was one of the last movies that really had an ALL-STAR cast – Connery, Caan, Olivier, Redford, Gould, Hackman, Bogarde, Caine to name but a few. Sean Connery was, and probably still is, my favourite movie star and he is excellent in this film.

Another reason that I have fond memories of this movie were the circumstances of seeing it. Our family holiday that summer was in North Wales, and we spent it with my Uncle David, Aunty Margaret and my 4 year old cousin, Andrew. We saw the movie in Llandudno, in hot, stuffy, packed cinema. The movie is about 3 hours long, and had a interval. Sometime after stuffing our faces on ice-creams at the break, Andrew, decided to bring it back for public viewing. This resulted in Margaret getting a mop and bucket and cleaning it up. It did make the hospital scenes more realistic for the audience, as the cinema stank of bleach for the rest of the showing.

015507:Percy Street Newcastle upon Tyne 1966

ABC Haymarket

The success of Star Wars, Close Encounters and a few minor blockbuster movies reflected the changes going on in movie releases. The success of Jaws in 1975, plus the big hitters of this year set the pattern that we still see today – with studios putting more emphasis on making and marketing blockbusters. This would get even bigger with the introduction of multiplexes, video (then DVD and Blu-Ray) rental and sales starting in the 1980s. Unfortunately, the move to the US model of cinema chains spelled the ned for many older theatres in city centres like Newcastle. Within a decade many of the cinemas mentioned would close. The Odeon was the last to go, eventually closing in 2002.