Flashback Film Festival with Curator/Film Critic Richard CrouseJanuary 30, 2017
The Flashback Film Festival (formerly The Great Digital Film Fest) runs from Feb 3rd to 9th and is Canada’s only coast-to-coast film festival. Cineplex Events had put together a lineup of 17 memorable films that have a little something for everyone. Recently, we had a chance to talk to Richard Crouse, film critic and curator of the Flashback Film Festival about the movies selected for this year’s festival and why it is such a popular event for movie fans of all ages.
So how did you get involved with the Flashback Film Festival?
Richard: I’ve been involved for a number of years with Cineplex. They approached me five or six years ago to take part in some of their event programming, so when they show older films I would do introductions for them. I remember we showed Pans Labyrinth a while ago and I interviewed Guiellmo Del Torro and we filmed that interview and turned it into a night, you’d see the thirty-minute interview first and then they’d play the movie, so we’ve been doing that sort of thing for a while. Then a few years ago, I became involved with what was then known as The Great Digital Festival, just as an observer, someone who would suggest films and help curate a little bit. It was all about, frankly, sitting around with the people who were in charge and arguing about movies with them, Starship Troopers should be on the list or Pulp Fiction is great, let’s do it. We’d throw out titles and argue until we narrowed it down to a list of fifteen or twenty films.
How difficult is it to come up with a lineup that you are all happy with?
Richard: Well, it takes a while because we have to get it down to a realistic number and we’re all film geeks so we want to see everything projected onto the big screen. If this was our own private film festival there would probably be hundreds of titles but it’s not so it has to be a little more manageable. However, we always seem to end up with some really cool movies. I haven’t seen Heat on the big screen I think since it came out in 1995 so I’m really looking forward to seeing that. I’ll take any chance I can get to see Pulp Fiction on the big screen, Blood Simple, Fargo, those are movies that I think really benefit from the big screen experience.
It is quite an interesting and eclectic mix of movies. As a film critic, what is it that you look for when you’re putting together a list of possible films for this festival?
Richard: When I’m putting this list together, part of its nostalgia, what films haven’t I seen on the big screen in a while? When Pulp Fiction came out I thought wow, what I cool idea because when Pulp Fiction opened in 1994 it was pre-internet, no one had seen the trailers unless you’d been in a movie theater or happened to catch one on television, there wasn’t the barrage of information you get about movies that you do today. I had read some reviews, there was word of mouth about it but I really didn’t know that much about it. So when I went to see it, it absolutely blew my mind and what was happening at the theaters, on opening weekend anyway, was people were watching the movie, sitting through the credits and then sitting in the theater talking about it afterward, they weren’t leaving. I waited until the movie was over, I ran out to the box office, bought another ticket, got in line and went and saw it again right away, so when we have the chance to do the list this year I thought Pulp Fiction would be a great addition. Thinking about that first experience, my first time seeing the movie, that’s sort of for me, part of it. We’re scheduling older films and a lot of the appeal of these older films, absolutely they’re great films, but there’s also a nostalgia component that goes along with it. You remember when you’re dad used to take you to the movies every Saturday or your first date was to see Jurassic Park, and that kind of thing is part of the experience of choosing these movies, they have to be great movies but they also need to have, for me anyway, some kind of nostalgic appeal and I think for a lot of people this list will have that.
I had a very similar experience when I first sawPulp Fiction, I was totally shocked and overwhelmed by what I saw and I agree, it’s exactly that kind of film that fits so well into the lineup of this festival.
Richard: Absolutely. It was a movie that really, I wasn’t even sure that I understood what I’d just seen because we were so unfamiliar with the fractured timeline, it was like, what part of the story are we in now, I don’t know anymore and that’s cool. It’s been done many times since, in the 90’s alone I think there were hundreds of clones of Pulp Fiction but you look back and see how wonderfully it was done, that movie is really a thing of beauty.
The Flashback Film Festival is, like you said, a great way to get people together to enjoy some nostalgic fun. However, do you think the higher prices in both tickets and concessions have stopped a lot of families from getting out and enjoying a night at the movies?
Richard: Well, it’s still a cheaper night out than going to a baseball or hockey game. When I was a kid you could take a family to see the Toronto Maple Leafs play and now, unless you have two thousand dollars you can’t do it so I think it’s a bit of push and pull here. Prices have gone up but prices have gone up everywhere and for everything and as a night out as far as entertainment goes, movies are still a great deal. I went to see Louis C.K. the other night at Massey Hall and for two of us to go, it was about one hundred and fifty bucks. It was two hours and it was amazing, but it was a hundred and fifty bucks, and you go out and have a couple drinks beforehand and you end up spending two hundred bucks to go see a comedy show so I think movies are still a great value for the money.
Now besides the nostalgia, does this collection of films at the festival represent a different kind of filmmaking, something perhaps we don’t get to see enough of in this day and age?
Richard: I don’t know, I still think that if you look at the titles that are on here, you can find similar films today. Air Force One is a really good thriller but you know, we’re still getting good thrillers made today, Heat is an urban version, a citified version of Hell or High Water. There’s still cool crime dramas being made today, there are still interesting movies for people of all kinds of interests. I do think it’s funny that, on the list here you have Blade Runner, which of course has the remake coming out this year, Trainspotting 2 is coming out and Jurassic World was just out, there will be another one soon so there are a lot of these movies that have been remade or rebooted, for better and for worse. I’m really looking forward to Denis Villeneuve’s version of Blade Runner, I think he’s a genius and a very smart and contemplative guy so I’m curious to see what he will do with this material.
Ok, so if I was thinking about attending the Flashback Film Festival, pitch me a reason why I should go.
Richard: Well I’ll tell you, if you have a favorite film, let’s say Fight Club is one of your favorite films and you saw it when it came out in theaters and you bought the DVD and watched that many times, seeing it on the big screen is a different experience. It is hardwired into our DNA to make the enjoyment of entertainment a communal experience, from all the way back to when people used to sit around campfires and make up stories around the flickering flames, through to Shakespeare, to vaudeville, people have gathered to enjoy stuff as a community. I really think that the difference between sitting at home and watching something on your computer and seeing it in the theater is night and day. Not only are you seeing the picture the director wanted you to see, hearing it way the director wanted you to hear it but you get to sit with a group of strangers and hear them laugh, cry or gasp in horror, whatever it may be, but that’s part of the experience of enjoying entertainment, seeing the enjoyment and reactions of the people around you. For me, as a film critic, I have at my disposal a lot of different ways to see movies. I see things usually well in advance of the opening and I get sent DVD’s by the studios, or I get links sent via the internet where I can watch a movie before it opens in theatres so I can write a review in advance but still, if I have a choice between watching a movie at home or going to the theatre, I will always go to the theatre.
I want to thank Richard for taking the time to talk with us.
Movie times and information for the festival can be found here: http://www.cineplex.com/Events/FBFF
More information on Richard Crouse can be found on his website: http://www.richardcrouse.ca/