"Have you seen it yet?" "Have you seen it yet?" "Have you seen it yet?"
I'm pretty sure they're not referring to the exhibition of Biblical Fans at the Fan Museum, which is displaying a collection of over 70 fans touching upon many of the Bible's most significant episodes. For director, Michael Bay and producer, Jerry Bruckheimer, there's a blockbuster in there somewhere. My money's on Amy Adams to play the museum curator. She's versatile enough to pull it off and this truly could be the Oscar opportunity she's been looking and longing for.
Anyway, back to the matter, or more precisely the movie at hand. If I had a pound for everyone who has asked me if I've seen Moonlight yet, I'd be a rich man. Flushed enough, in fact, to go and watch it at a West End cinema and still have enough money left over for a giant bag of popcorn, an extra large fizzy drink and a taxi home (to Ullapool).
The reason I haven't been to see this work of apparent genius yet, isn't because I don't think it would be great. On the contrary, I'm certain it'd be marvellous (after all, everyone tells me it is), a dramatic tour de force, a deeply affecting cinematic experience that would speak to me in a way other LGBT films haven't. As for the performances and the script, well, I'm sure they'd be heartbreakingly beautiful and gut-wrenchingly emotional, guaranteed to stay with me long after I'd left the auditorium.
The trouble is the hype. Let's face it, everything's hyped out of all proportion these days and films are no exception. However, the hopes and anticipation I'd be carrying with me to my seat would be so huge that I'd have to book another one for my expectations, so as to avoid being crushed by them.
Even then I know that we'd both be slightly disappointed. Come the end, my expectations and i would turn to each other and say: "It was pretty good, just not as astounding as I thought it was going to be".
For me, the film can simply never live up to the level of praise that it has had heaped upon it by critics and awards juries. Maybe, it would have been better if I'd seen it at one of the festivals such as Toronto at which it first played. That way, no one would have told me that I'd simply adore it and how it was unmissable. If there's one word that makes me want to miss a movie, it's unmissable.
Therefore, I should have known better when against my better judgement, I went to see La La Land. Throughout its running time, the only thought that kept going through my head was:"It's no Singin' in the Rain". Had I not seen this love letter (more a schmaltzy Hallmark Valentine greeting) to Hollywood musicals of yesteryear, it may have been one of my favourite films of the year. Not now.
As with Manchester By The Sea, that's been similarly lauded, I won't be trotting off to see Moonlight any time soon. That way, in my mind at least, it will always be a masterpiece. Definitely way up there in my top 10, if not the number one spot, presently occupied by Citizen Kane. Along with many other amateur movie pundits, this classic from Orson Welles (the Damien Chazelle of his day) is my best-loved picture of all time.
Have I actually seen it? Of course I haven't. Yes, I've caught snippets. But no, I've never sat down and watched it in its entirety. I genuinely couldn't stand the thought that it might be anything less than 100% bona fide brilliant.
While you shouldn't take anyone else's word that a film is exceptional, conversely, you shouldn't take anyone else's word that a film is terrible. It might turn out to be a positive delight.
Take The Counselor, for instance. Remember that from 2013? Probably not. Why would you? 35% on Rotten Tomatoes and 2 out of 5 in the Guardian. Yet I sat there rapt. Reams of Cormac McCarthy dialogue being spoken by amongst others, Javier Bardem, Brad Pitt, Michael Fassbender and Penelope Cruz. Not forgetting, Cameron Diaz making love to a Ferrari. And the whole shebang directed by Ridley Scott with the same overblown panache that was such a trademark of his commercials of old. I mean, what wasn't to love?
Buoyed by recent Oscar glory, the likes of Moonlight will enjoy greater box office success. Across the Atlantic, the film that didn't, then did win the ultimate Academy accolade has been expanded to over 1500 screens. Over here, more cinemas will doubtless also be showing it and more of us will doubtless be watching it.
As for me, now where's Fifty Shades Darker playing?