Cinema is several kinds of magic. Late yesterday afternoon we went to the first of the films we plan to see during this year’s international film festival. Venus stars Peter O’Toole as an aged actor still sparked with mischievous optimistic life. It is funny and sad in turns with an often extremely witty script by Hanif Kureshi and drawing in some wonderful supporting performances by Leslie Phillips [who, forgive me, i thought already dead], Richard Griffiths and Vanessa Redgrave.
The magic. Well first there are the unexpected spaces themselves — hidden away and belied by the facades of their buildings, they are warm dim caverns and fabulous caves. Then there is projected light: a curious feat of capture and re-invention. And the invention magics us into other lives, other times, other worlds hanging there so large and real as to be virtually palpable in the dark.
The fourth kind of magic happens when you emerge out of the dim cave when the latern show is over. This is best when it is night for then the magic is more dazzling, the effect more extreme. To go into the cinema in daytime and come out again to day still surprises, for there’s the world going on just as usual when you had for an hour or two quite forgot. To go in in day and return to find the night is wonderful — the city buzz and its lights conjure a magic as much an equal to that of the film. This seemed especially so last night — it was raining and the lights, candescent and neon, glowed and leapt and reflected in glass and puddles to multiply their life.