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You and I are part of the generation that grew up watching movies in theatres.

We also experienced the dawn of television but that small set with black and white images just could not surpass the big screen experience.

The generations after us have grown up with television as a dominant part of their life.

While our generation wanted to see our work on a big screen in a theater these generations want to see their work on TV where their parents can see how successful they have become.

For them the theater going experience is secondary to the living room experience, or, even better, the privacy of their bedrooms.

I happen to like the Marvel movies. Marvel creates comic books. I don’t expect their movies to be anything more than comic books brought to life.

In the past most who made movies with Marvel properties mucked them up.

Now Marvel is producing their own movies. They are doing a pretty good job of it.


But for myself nothing comes close to the movie that changed forever my perception of what movies can be.

I grew up in a small town in New Brunswick, Canada.

We got a steady diet of Randolph Scott and Audie Murphy with now and then a sex film or a horror movie.

But then in Ontario at the suggestion of my Grade 12 English teacher Jack Casey I went to see the film of LONG DAY’S JOURNEY INTO NIGHT with Katharine Hepburn, Ralph Richardson, Jason Robards, Dean Stockwell, all of whom I had never heard of.

I sat there riveted.

I had no idea the movies could be about so much.

Over the years since I began, by chance, my film programs in Toronto I have endeavoured to give others that experience.

You won’t find me at TIFF. You won’t find me on the list of places TIFF suggests you go when you are in this city. You won’t hear me speaking at TIFF.

In fact, if you look me up you will find that I am probably the most despised man working in film in Canada right now.

Young people who come here tell me their teachers warned them not to.

That’s fine.

I warn them to stay away from their teachers.

In the beginning the movies were called illegitimate theater. The people who worked to create the art and industry of the movies were viewed with contempt, despised.

So being despised is part of the real history of the movies.

While I like the Marvel films those pictures do not compare with the work you have done.

That is in a league by itself.

So what am I saying?

I am saying what Bernardo Bertolucci said: “Film students should stay as far away from film schools and film teachers as possible. The only school for the cinema IS the cinema. The best cinema is the Paris Cinematheque. The best teacher is Henri Langlois.”

When I went to Europe in 1979 I was astonished to learn how despised Henri Langlois was.

He and I share something in common.

My work in Toronto from 1968 on was inspired by Henri Langlois.

Marvel is doing something that few seem able to do. It is producing movies that are getting people into theatres.

Clearly you guys don’t care for them.

I do.

I care more for your work because the films you make resonate with me. They give me that feeling I had when in my teens I watched LONG DAY’S JOURNEY INTO NIGHT.

Marvel’s films don’t do that.

They are not meant to.

I will never forget the experience of seeing MEAN STREETS.


I will never forget the experience of first seeing THE GODFATHER and APOCALYPSE NOW.

The art and industry of the movies almost does not exist today.

D. W. Griffith, the most important figure in that art and industry, is now the most despised.

His movies, starting with THE BIRTH OF A NATION (1915) were seen in legitimate theatres at top Broadway prices.

Where today theatres are built to seat at most 500 people and sit empty Griffith’s films played in 5,000 seat houses where people paid what today would be over $50 a seat to see them.

The movies began with a BIG BANG.

They have now become barely a whisper.

What is needed is a resurrection of the cinema.

Next time you are in Toronto drop by my Cineforum.

THE LONELY PLANET places it on the top of their list of places to see in Ontario.

Film buffs don’t come hear because they don’t want to listen to me speak.

That’s fine.

A lot of other good people do.

Marvel’s movies are important.

More important than it seems you, Francis and many others realize.

As Henri Langlois said, “The first thing I had to do was to get rid of my sense of taste.”

Salvador Dali and Pablo Picasso said, “It is good taste not bad taste which is the enemy.”

I’m with them.

The movies need to return to their roots as bastard theater.

I’m very much looking forward to THE IRISHMAN.

I love 3D movies. For me your HUGO is the best 3D movie of our time. You make wonderful use of the currently much despised “Z” (foreground) space.

–Reg Hartt (the most loved and loathed film connoisseur in Canada according to TORONTO LIFE. That loathed part is important).


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