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Movies just don’t satisfy when you can’t watch the theater

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Movies just don't satisfy when you can't watch the theater

I miss the movies. 

Last week, the Golden Globes and the Screen Actors Guild announced their award nominations, to be followed by Oscar contenders in March. For a whole year now, I haven’t seen any of the listed films. 

Nor do I know even a passing thing about most of them. Like a sports fan whose team is sidelined, I’ve mostly stopped reading the film pages in the papers. 

Yes, people say we’re in a golden age of film (and TV). Netflix, Amazon, Disney+, the Criterion Channel, Eventive — anything you want to watch, from the latest star vehicle to silent films, available on the computer. 

And for cheaper than an $18.50 ticket for a single screening, plus Sour Patch Kids, at a Manhattan theater. 

But watching a movie at home isn’t an escape. It’s just another chore to do on the screen. During a slow scene, you will end up checking your e-mail. If someone calls you during the movie, you may as well pause it and talk to him or her. 

It is not what you were paying the $18.50 for: a 2 ½-hour darkened break from real life. 

Like sitting on an airplane, actually going to the movies is surrendering control. The film starts on someone else’s schedule — which is probably half an hour too early or too late. This is a good thing: a reason to close the computer and go outside. 

There are 20 minutes of previews, plus the M&M’s ad. In a world in which 15-second TikTok videos can’t hold attention, this teaches patience and forbearance. 

Narrower choices, too, make for a broader experience. 

The boutique Munroe theater at Lincoln Center is just a nice theater — so I’d randomly pick one of whichever five or so movies it was playing until I had seen them all. 

Sure, at home, I theoretically could watch a film about Poland during the Cold War or a documentary about rats in Baltimore, but endless choice grows paralyzing. 

Also, frustrating. Why bother to read a movie review if the arty film is only available on a boutique, at-home-on-demand channel, and you don’t feel like signing up for yet another online service to try to cancel a month later? 

You can pick and choose old-fashioned movie theaters based on their day-to-day offerings, with no strings attached, and with no need to learn all about different distributors and their constricted licensing deals. 

And no, I’m not doing Netflix, even though my friend insists it would “change your life” — because instead of going to the movies once a week, I’d end up watching cheap Netflix TV all day. 

Connecting a unique physical location with a film makes for a stronger memory — both of the place and the film. “Hustlers” in Times Square is different from “Hustlers” on TV. A movie about the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin amid a crowd of elderly Jewish widows on the Upper West Side is different from watching it on the phone. 

“Midnight in Paris” is more fun if the screening is at midnight in Paris. “Paddington” in a theater of babbling British children is more fun than “Paddington” on the couch. 

Finally, the big screen makes bad movies better. “Motherless Brooklyn” at the AMC uptown is a magnified version of dizzying mid-20th-century New York. At home, it’s just a shabby script, full of holes. 

Carey Mulligan’s “Promising Young Woman” at the multiplex, with people hooting at the ­tables-turned-on-the-would-be-rapist scenes, might be a gleefully bad revenge flick. But released straight to video during the pandemic, as it was, it would probably feel like a shoddy B-movie that misses its own joke.

How many times have I looked out the window after “work” all these fall and winter days and thought, this would be a great cold, gloomy evening to walk to the movies, to see anything at all? 

Will the movies come back? Since a 2002 peak, annual tickets sold had fallen by 25 percent by 2019. Still, that’s 1.2 billion tickets a year. 

Like anything in the pandemic, the longer theaters stay closed, the harder it will be to survive. 

Gov. Cuomo could help, by letting city theaters open up at 25 percent capacity, with families sitting well away from each other, as he’s doing soon with indoor dining. 

Until then, I’ll read a book. 

Nicole Gelinas is a contributing editor to the Manhattan Institute’s City Journal. 

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Opinion

Biden’s getting exactly the border crisis he asked for

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Biden's getting exactly the border crisis he asked for

A new year, a new president, a return of an old problem: unaccompanied children crossing the border in droves.

Thousands of children — usually older teens, 16 or 17, but Border Patrol agents report increasing numbers of kids younger than 13 — are arriving each month from Central America.

On Thursday, a Customs and Border Protection staffer reportedly told top Biden administration officials to expect a peak of 13,000 unaccompanied minors to cross the border in May — the highest level ever.

“We’re seeing the highest February numbers [that] we’ve ever seen in the history of the [Unaccompanied Alien Child] program,” a Department of Health and Human Services official told Axios.

That’s right: a crisis worse than the one that brought the “kids in cages” backlash under President Donald Trump, and the earlier crises that prompted the building of those “cages” under President Barack Obama.

And it’s a crisis that we and others warned would come, as soon as President Biden started reversing every Trump border policy, even those clearly responsible for producing historic lows in illegal crossers, and returning to Obama policies that first triggered the unprecedented waves of children crossing without family.

Now Biden’s having to reopen shelters to house the kids until the feds can figure out what to do with them — shelters that his usual allies denounced as horrors in the Trump years. Yet, says White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki, “There are very few good options here, and we chose the one we thought is best.”

That’s only because her boss already rejected the option of trying to ensure they don’t come here in the first place.

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Opinion

Letters to the Editor — Feb. 27, 2021

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Letters to the Editor — Feb. 27, 2021

The Issue: The parole of a man convicted of killing NYPD Officer Harry Ryman in 1980.

The parole of cop-killer Paul Ford is yet another sign that Gov. Cuomo has absolutely no regard for victims’ families (“Slain-cop kin aghast at murderer’s parole,” Feb. 21).

Cuomo has no interest in protecting the residents of New York, as his criminal-justice reforms and handpicked Parole Board members are causing violent criminals to be released onto our streets.

It is time for all New Yorkers to wake up and protect themselves by pushing this ruthless tyrant out of his easy chair.

Nicholas Maffei
Yonkers

Some 20 cop-killers have been released by Cuomo’s moronic and irresponsible Parole Board since 2017, including one who murdered two cops in one incident.

Combine that with the release of the killer of two moms who were slain with their kids in the house, and you have to wonder how board members keep their jobs.

Meanwhile, Cuomo, who appointed them, wrote a book on leadership, which in retrospect is a total joke, even aside from the parole board.

Where is the outrage over this? How is giving hope to murderers serving society? When will they disband this Parole Board?

Niles Welikson
Williston Park

The Parole Board members lack reason and common sense.

This board has released 20 cop-killers since 2017. What an embarrassing record.

This is morally bankrupt, unethical and shows absolutely no compassion or consideration for these police officers’ families.

This time, it’s the killer of Police Officer Harry Ryman, who gave up his life trying to stop three thugs from stealing a neighbor’s car.

These poor families had to suffer without a father, husband or son.

So tell me: How is anyone’s life improved by of the release of another cop-killer?

Mike Pedano
South Farmingdale

Cuomo’s tenure as governor will forever be remembered for the thousands of nursing-home deaths attributed to his incompetence. That is how it should be.

However, the release of cop-killer Paul Ford by a Cuomo-appointed Parole Board is a reminder that the damage done by this politician is far-reaching.

A life sentence has no meaning in a progressive, liberal state. Who could have guessed that some 40 years after the murder of a policeman, the cops would be the bad guys and lowlife scum like Ford would be freed?

Robert Mangi
Westbury

The Issue: A new documentary that details the accusations of sexual abuse against Woody Allen.

I am fuming after reading Andrea Peyser’s column (“Put me on Team Woody — Mia is full of it,” Feb. 22).

The reason why child molestation continues is because people turn a blind eye to the facts.

Let me ask you this — who in their right mind marries their partner’s own child, adopted or not? If you cannot see there is something wrong with that picture, you have blinders on.

There are limited instances where people have falsely accused others of being child molesters in order to gain custody of their children during a divorce or separation.

In the case between Woody Allen and Mia Farrow, you have to look at his behavior. I believe the claims are true.

Panagiota Giakoumis
Middleburgh

I never liked Allen or Farrow, so I have no bias in this endless feud, but I’m shocked that anyone could watch the new HBO documentary and not realize that it’s corrupt and dishonest to only tell one side.

Anyone can make another person look bad with lies or exaggerations.

Andrew Nace-Enzminger
Brooklyn

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Opinion

Democrats’ sneak attack on the free press

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Democrats' sneak attack on the free press

Democrats’ hot new idea for responsible dialogue is to muscle cable and satellite providers to drop Fox News and other outlets they dislike.

In the runup to a House hearing this week, Reps. Anna Eshoo and Jerry McNerney (both D-Calif.) sent out letters to a dozen providers to silence conservative channels, demanding to know the “ethical or moral principles” behind “disseminating misinformation to millions.”

Federal Communications Commissioner Brendan Carr called out the “concerted effort by Democrats to drive political dissent from the political square.”

Indeed: At the actual hearing, the subcommittee chief, Rep. Mike Doyle (D-Pa.) gave the real agenda away: “More free speech just isn’t winning the day over the kind of speech that we’re concerned about.”

Sadly, this kind of intimidation works. As lefty Matt Taibbi notes, the last Democratic push for censorship got Facebook and Twitter to go along, with results like their blackout of The Post’s pre-election Hunter Biden scoops.

The government doesn’t have to actually ban speech by law (in violation of the First Amendment) when politicians simply can threaten the private sector into doing their will.

Too bad Taibbi was one of only a few lonely voices on the left to call out this concerted assault on basic democratic freedoms.

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