Escape from New York: Portland

by robbiefreeling
February 22, 2011 10:59 AM
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Many of Reverse Shot's staff writers and contributors come from and reside in locations all over the U.S. and beyond. Escape from New York is a new column devoted to reminding us Manhattan-and-Brooklyn-centric moviegoers that we are not the world when it comes to cinephila. In the following weeks and months, look for dispatches by a handful of our best writers from such far-flung locations as Taipei, Tel Aviv, London, Los Angeles, Washington D.C., and more. First up, Kristi Mitsuda's observations on filmgoing in Portland.

Escape from New York:
Strange Brews in Portland, or Dude, Where’s My Movies?
by Kristi Mitsuda

New York City and cinephilia are inextricably linked for me. I moved to the city first for film school and then later returned to the area following some time off to travel and started working at the Film Forum and writing for Reverse Shot. Fair to say, my life in New York revolved around movies. It’s no wonder that leaving again—about two and a half years ago, I moved to Portland, Oregon, for the hell of it, ready for a new experience—felt almost like I was banishing myself from the film world.

So it’s not too surprising, I suppose, that my cinephile self has felt a bit adrift in this new town, though more grounded in so many other ways. Nearly all of my professional and personal connections in NYC are themselves cinephiles, so certainly separation from them accounts in part for this feeling. But it goes beyond this: Disconnection is built into the experience of being a cinephile since we’re prone to sitting alone in darkened theaters for hours, but in New York there’s a collective sense of enterprise around movie-watching—you always feel as if you’re one among masses of other individuals involved in the same thoughtful sport. But from my vantage point as a relative newcomer to Portland—though compared to many random people I meet, most of whom seem to have only moved here within the past six months, I practically feel like a veteran—a cohesive cinephile community seems lacking; the same level of devout attention doesn’t coalesce around film-viewing experiences here. And for some reason, it’s less of a thrill to watch Olivier Assayas’s five-hour version of Carlos on the Friday night of its one-weekend-only run surrounded by a couple of handfuls of people instead of in a giddy, packed New York Film Festival room. Continue reading.

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