Monday, February 25, 2013

Club Celluloid

I'm on supper at Bible study tomorrow night, so while a big batch of brownies cooks in the oven, I'll sit down with a cup of Melbourne Breakfast (people have all day breakfast) and tell you about Club Celluloid.

It came about when a tender hearted member of my book club asked whether other book clubs were also allowed to have their movie nights at the library. All of the library staff in the book club were horrified - there are over forty book clubs in Wagga, sixty in the region, we'd have to pay staff to stay late every night! No, we are allowed to watch the film of our book in the library, on the comfy tub chairs, with a glass of wine and much Crust pizza, because the library manager is in our club. But, it got me thinking. We had thought about hiring the cinema to show certain films over the years, but perhaps we could have a movie club, a bit like our book club.

We had organised screening rights for a few kids' films before, so I had some contacts for getting the rights to play the films. There was paperwork to fill in and lots of questions to ask, and while I was sorting the logistics, I asked people what they would like to see. I asked our facebook likers and customers in the library and ended up with a long list of suggestions. I decided to keep it simple, at least in the first year, and only seek screening rights from one company. There were quite a few films that I wanted to get, but the company didn't have rights for them.

It would be fair to say that quite a few of the final ten films for 2013, are amongst my own favourites. Tim suggested one via Facebook, others were direct requests from customers or other staff. There are four that I haven't ever seen. Can you guess them, Phil?

My brother Phil is the film buff of the family, I'll bet he has seen them all. The point of the film club is not to see films you love, but to make social connections in the community and to broaden your watching horizon. That is what makes it similar to our book club service, which is about so much more than the books. To join Club Celluloid, people pay $100 and get a card that entitles them to see all ten films over the year. You also get a glass of wine and some nibbles. You can also choose to come to only certain films, and pay $15 per film.

When the film is over, we chat about it. What we liked, or didn't like about it, what we might have done in the characters' place, whether we think the performances were any good. As it happens, I never got around to deciding exactly how the discussion part would work, before I left my job. Poor Jeannie and Jess had to sort that out. For our first film (I have been showing the posters in order), they found some questions online, and we discussed them, as well as other that we posed ourselves. Sometimes we talked as a big group - there were around 26 people there- and sometimes in smaller groups.

Phil suggested that I join Letterboxd, which looks to be like goodreads, but for movies. I have put a review of Stranger Than Fiction there, but will repeat it here: I watched this with my library film club and it was almost universally enjoyed. Not your typical Will Ferrell movie, Stranger Than Fiction is clever, engaging and thoughtful. I laughed and I cried as I became attached to the characters and came to know their fate. There was plenty to discuss with the club members - how would we have reacted in Harold's place? How could Professor Hilbert put a masterpiece of literature before his friend? Did Karen Eiffel's new ending compromise the film, as well as the book?
Most of us found it life affirming, encouraging us to make decisions as if we could die tomorrow. It brought up great questions about God and the greater good while being a funny and sweet film.

The one fellow who didn't love it said that he might have liked it if he had watched it at a different time, but after a long day of work, he just found it too much to follow. There were a few people who thought it was complex and required concentration. I thought that, because I was enjoying it so much and found the characters so engaging, I was fully immersed in the story and didn't find it a strain at all. 

Two people have confused the name of the club with dimply thighs. Oops, it's too late to do anything about that! Annoyingly, I have finished telling you all about it, but haven't put all of the posters up yet. You'll just have to pretend that I have written something fascinating in between these last ones!

Are any of your favourites on this list? Which films would you like to see in a movie club? Can you guess which ones I haven't seen yet?


  1. Some great movies there! I wish I lived closer, I'd join your book club and your movie clue, even though I have celluloid thighs!

  2. Love, love, love this!
    I guess you have not seen: Blue Velvet, Dancer in the Dark, Bonnie & Clyde, and Memento... how did I go?
    Can I suggest Vertigo? Perhaps for next year... who is the distributor you're using?
    I've not seen three of these.

    1. Three out of Four, Phil! I have seen Bonnie and Clyde. There is another film on the list that I think I will love, but have never seen. The distributor is Roadshow. We couldn't get any of the French films we wanted from them. Also, they have the rights for Harold and Maude but the people who own it insist on more than double the usual fee, so we didn't choose it in the end :( I'll suggest Vertigo for next year!

  3. I loved Stranger than Fiction. I never thought I would enjoy a film with Will Ferrell in it. But it was funny, engaging and even a little moving. Wish I lived in Wagga... Club Celluloid sounds like my kinda deal. x Sarah

  4. I watched Salmon Fishing in the Yemen a few nights ago which I really enjoyed! Not too taxing and very pretty. Have you seen it?