I went to see John Cameron Mitchell’s film Shortbus the other night. He’s a close relative of a friend of mine who was going too so that was a bit unusual. It felt a bit like a premiere, except for the limos, the clothes-horse people, the lack of razzamatazz of any kind. Ok, it was all in my head. Bit like the movie in some ways. Hey it was the end of January in Inverness – I can dream …
It was my first visit to The Screen Machine, an ingenious concept to get movies to remote Highland and Island communities. It’s basically an articulated lorry, the trailer of which folds down into a proper cinema. Eden Court Theatre in Inverness is being extended and refurbished for the Year of Highland Culture and is due to reopen with a fanfare later this year. In the meantime the duties of the former Riverside Screen at the theatre are being filled by the Screen Machine in the car park of our local swimming and leisure centre.
It was hard to get a ticket. The idea is you reserve it online and then pick it up within three days from the Floral Hall, a nearby botanical garden (worth a visit itself). When you get there you find that it’s only a half hour before showtime that such transactions are done. Maybe it did say this on the website, but I didn’t see it. Apparently you can also buy tickets in our local shopping mall, but nobody I asked knew anything about that.
Anyway, we made it there, got our tickets and queued outside the lorry / cinema. The guy came and opened it pretty smartly and we joined the ten or so other paying customers. Inside it was an amazing tardis of a thing. How they get it onto a lorry I don’t know, but some cunning engineers do! It was great. What a brilliant idea! It looks and feels like a cinema. There was a space heater to keep us cosy and the noise of the howling westerly outside only got irritating a couple of times. Most nights it would be ideal. In the longer term the seats weren’t that comfortable, but no worse than many cinemas my bahookie has suffered. And the staff were cool too, not stuffy and up for a bit crack.
The film was interesting – a bit soapy for my taste with the interconnected stories of a group of people who frequent the club of the title. There is a lot of shagging which is allegedly unsimulated and a money shot. It offers something for all orientations, thereby probably alienating most, but that’s got to be a strength in a tale which is saying something about community. It’s a bit heartwarming, a big bit sexy, a bit inclusive and I watched and heard things I’d never thought of before, not all to do with sex and sexual politics. It nearly gets edgy a couple of times when dealing with intergenerational issues and the place of the orgasm in a relationship, but I suppose the edgy context might have been more than enough of a stretch in the acceptable mainstream movie fabric. I didn’t take to the cuddly stalker, even if he did redeem himself near the end and I think we should put an appeal together to buy curtains for everyone in New York so they can get a bit of privacy in their own homes. I think it was worth the £5.50 for the ticket. Go see for yourself. I’m going to watch Mitchell’s first movie – Hedwig and the Angry Inch – on DVD now. By the way, his uncle enjoyed it so much he pinched the poster.