All the films I’ve seen at the cinema since 1995

I keep my tickets.

So, as per the title, these are all the films I’ve seen at the cinema since 1995. I’ve been keeping my tickets since August of that year, after going to see Die Hard With A Vengeance with some friends of mine. Die Hard With A Vengeance isn’t a significant film, other than it being the first film which I kept the ticket for. I’m not saying Die Hard With A Vengeance is forgettable or insignificant in itself. As a film it’s fine, as I recall, and probably the second best film in the Die Hard franchise, although I’ll admit I haven’t seen Die Hard 2 in a while and don’t remember much about it. What I’m trying to say is that I didn’t watch Die Hard With A Vengeance and thought “What a great film. From now on I will keep all my cinema tickets.” It didn’t happen like that. It wasn’t an entirely conscious decision. I guess I got home after watching it and put the ticket in a box instead of throwing it away. That’s how these things start. Just one little thing, which over time becomes a bigger thing. Anyway, talking about conscious decisions, it’s the second film I kept the ticket for, The Usual Suspects, which holds more significance, since at the time it really blew me away, to such an extent that I then decided to spend three years at university studying Film. That, I think, can be defined as a conscious decision, and arguably a questionable one, but that’s not what this post is about. I don’t even remember The Usual Suspects all that well, apart from the ending where Keyser Söze turns out to be Kevin Spacey, or the other way around, but even though I don’t remember it well, I don’t particularly want to watch it again, in case it hasn’t aged well and reflects poorly on my judgement and the path my life took because of it. Anyway, I kept my tickets in a green plastic box (pictured below), and when that box became full I kept them in a see-through plastic pouch (also pictured below). Some tickets might have got lost along the way, but mostly they’re all there — I’d estimate a good 95% of them. The title is therefore a bit misleading, then, since it’s not technically all the films I’ve seen at the cinema since 1995 — sorry about that — but it seemed more attractive to phrase it as a complete success rather than a partial failure, even though people actually prefer reading about things that are less than perfect, which are more relatable, because, let’s face it, no one’s life is perfect, at least as far as I can tell, apart from some of my friends on Facebook who seem to have it all, but everyone’s life looks good on Facebook even though deep down we all hurt inside. Anyway, it amounts to a fair few tickets, altogether. Some people, if they’d kept their tickets, might have accumulated more than me, such as The Guardian film critic Peter Bradshaw, but I think the majority of people would’ve accumulated less tickets than me, if they’d chosen to keep them. Anyway, the amount of tickets here represents the amount of times I went to the cinema since August 1995 (give or take 5%). I haven’t actually counted them, which I guess I should do at some point. However, those of you with an eagle eye will have spotted four things in the photo which don’t look like cinema tickets, that’s because they’re not tickets, they’re press passes, to the Deauville American Film Festival, which I attended four years running from 1997 to 2000. During the festival’s nine day duration, my friend and I would watch approximately 36 films, at a rate of 4 films per day. So ideally there should be 144 more tickets in that photo, but they didn’t issue tickets at the festival to those with a press pass, which I was lucky enough to have. Those were the days — staying in a hotel, getting high, only leaving the room to watch films for free and attend press conferences with movie stars like Al Pacino. Once, my friend and I walked past a restaurant where members of the jury were having dinner at a table outside. Among them was the Belgian actress Marie Gillain, who looked at me as I walked past. I didn’t actually see her looking at me, but my friend did, and he told me afterwards, ‘She looked at you.’ Now I have a clear memory of her looking at me, as if I’d seen her looking at me myself. Another time, I went to the toilet before a screening and urinated side by side with Ewan McGregor. I didn’t know it then, but my life had pretty much peaked at this point. I don’t mean when I urinated next to Ewan McGregor specifically but that whole period in general. That’s unless I take into account things like meeting my partner and raising a child together, which are no doubt important, meaningful and fulfilling, but that’s not what this post is about. Some of these tickets have faded, much like my memory of watching many of these films. One has faded so much it has become a blank piece of paper, like a fresh canvas on a painter’s easel. What else… Oh yeah, Morgan Freeman walked past me and he was impossibly tall. He was with Ashley Judd who was also very tall, but she was wearing heels.

I should’ve probably started a new paragraph sooner but there you go. One of these tickets is for the romantic comedy She’s The One, which I saw with a girl I really liked. She was so far out of my league that when she asked me out to the cinema, I didn’t for a minute think we were going on an actual date, so I brought two friends with me. It wasn’t awkward, though, we all had a nice evening, but my relationship with the girl went no further and she wasn’t the one after all. Another ticket is for the science-fiction film Moon, which I watched with my girlfriend and before which we had a massive argument during which she said, in the tones of intense drama she has a knack for, ‘This is the last film I’ll ever watch with you.’ She was wrong of course, we’re still together and we’ve seen plenty more films in each other’s company. I like cinema because I’ve always craved escapism, although now that I’m older, I hate myself a little bit less, at least in some ways. But in other ways I hate myself a lot more, so I guess it balances out, just like every element in the universe seeks balance. As I said earlier everybody hurts and cinema offers us some respite. I think that’s what this post is about.

In a way I feel like my whole life is contained within these containers, but in another way I don’t, it’s just my cinema tickets.