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Cultural differences

Posted at 5:17 PM on March 13, 2006 by Euan Kerr (4 Comments)

"We have really everything in common with America nowadays, except, of course, language." Oscar Wilde

I have twice been stopped short in recent days by friends who didn't know what I was talking about when I used the term "fleapit." It's clearly a function of my age and origins. A "fleapit" is a British term used to describe a slightly rundown moviehouse. It's a functional, if not entirely honorable appellation.

My parents often told a story about going to a local moviehouse when they were courting to catch a matinee. (This would have been in the late 1950's.) The establishment in question was the largest cinema in Glasgow and prided itself in having "divans" rather than seats. In fact if you spent a little extra, you could get yourself a "Golden Divan" which was akin to a sofa, and perfect for two.

My folks decided to splurge and got the golden ticket, then settled down to watch the movie, in what was an otherwise deserted auditorium. Soon after the film started they heard a strange noise. It was a repeated "fft-fft-fft" sound, which seemed to be getting louder. A figure slowly emerged out of the darkness, working his way up and down the rows. It was a man pumping what the locals called a "flit-gun," a pesticide sprayer.

Eventually he got to the row where my parents still sat in amazement. They were even more amazed as he just kept going, spraying them as if they weren't there. Truly it was the golden age of cinema!

Comments (4)

I am always curious to know if either of you have any training with film. MPR is supposed to be a serious source for news and information and they are using commentators with no more formal training than some kid at the movie theatre. Being from Southern California and growing up surrounded by the business I would much rather listen to an educated voice whether it is regarding food and wine, movies or politics. I also truly hope that we do not pay Ms. Curtis for her time on air, especially since there are certainly trained Cinematic Professionals that are avaiable to discuss film for pay.
Thank you for your attention.

Posted by Daniel Ritter | March 14, 2006 10:22 AM

D is right, stop having a fun, lighthearted look at cinema!

Posted by Alyosus Siedel | March 14, 2006 11:55 AM

D! Haven't you written in about this before? I've made films,* studied film here and in Scotland, lectured on film, written about movies and been a film critic for a decade. That said, I don't think that matters and I don't stress it in a long bio next to my column. Who should be a pop music critic? Only people with a PhD in the Top 40? Who should be a basketball beat columnist at the Strib? Only someone who played in the NBA? Are auto mechanics the only people qualified to review new cars?

I can't speak for Euan, but I am not trying to be Film Comment. I'm a fan of the magazine and the tradition of Cahiers du Cinema - but that doesn't mean that makes good radio or light hearted blogs. I want to talk about movies in the way real people talk about movies and have some fun doing it.

*Really bad student films.

Posted by Stephanie Curtis | March 14, 2006 1:46 PM

Yes, I took classes in film theory, here and in Scotland (at a different place from the Maven though, and not NEARLY as many courses.) I have also been writing stories about the film business for about 20 years as they have come up as part of my daily grind as a radio journalist both at MPR and at the BBC.

But I agree with Stephanie, I am just doing this for fun, and to learn more about the movies I have seen and yet to see.

Watching film is in many ways a solitary experience, even when we go with family and friends. We sit in the dark and watch, taking in the experience. And if we are lucky we can then go and share that experience, talking after a film, or reacting on a blog like this.

I want to hear what other people think, and why. It's as simple as that.

Posted by Euan Kerr | March 14, 2006 3:14 PM

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