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Music and More | The fantasy of cinema diversity

Published:Thursday | February 15, 2018 | 12:00 AMMel Cooke/Gleaner Writer
This image released by Disney Marvel Studios shows (from left) Danai Gurira, Lupita Nyong'o and Florence Kasumba in a scene from Black Panther. There is heightened excitement about the showing of the movie in Jamaica.

Dem know 'bout Carib now true dat a de only one

Dem no know State or Regal and Odeon"

- Agent Sasco, History Book

In my younger, less patient - and hence less practical - days, I attended a church service in Cross Roads, St Andrew. The building was once a cinema and, as I listened to the pastor and observed the rituals, I thought, "Yeah, man. Different set-up, but same presentation of fantasy. They charge you same way and at least they change the films at the cinema."

Having grown up a bit I have come to appreciate that we all have different needs for entertainment and comfort and the Christian and Rastafarian faiths are very much a part of the dancehall space which I delight in. Jimmy and Tarrus Riley did say "dancehall a de people's church." Amen? Amen.

However, I remain nostalgic about the days when there were a number of cinemas in Kingston and St Andrew, apart from Carib in Cross Roads. Which is strange, because I did not actually watch a movie in any of them and quite a few (like the open- top one at the intersection of South Camp Road and East Queen Street) had closed by the time I 'come a town' from St Thomas, and then my high-school boarding experience was in St Elizabeth.




What I think I yearn for is what did not exist, a variety in big-screen fare outside of the steady diet of mainly US films which are served up at the Palace Amusement cinemas. Yes, I can watch what I want on a laptop, tablet or cell phone, but wouldn't it be great to see some films from other countries (subtitled where necessary) in the cinema environment with great (in more ways then one) picture and sound?

Note very carefully: I am not saying that Carib should carry these films - they would lose their shirts and more if they did and they are into running a business. And there are film festivals from countries such as Korea which are done mainly at Carib's Sovereign facility.

The cinemas I remember passing by and seeing movies being advertised are Odeon in Half-Way Tree, where the entrance to Transport Centre on Constant Spring Road is now, and State in Cross Roads, which seemed to specialise in 'kickers' starring some people with lots of Xs in their names. They also used to show Mike Tyson heavyweight boxing fights. I did not know the cinema in Cross Roads, on the Old Hope Road side, which became a haberdashery. Neither did I know the Ambassador on Collie Smith Drive or the one nearer to May Pen Cemetery on Spanish Town Road. I did watch a movie at the Blue Diamond in Montego Bay (one from the Star Wars series), but never went into the Strand. Persons of greater knowledge will remember many a now defunct cinema. I was once told of one in Duncans, Trelawny, which attracted people from miles around.

In this era of personalised entertainment, it would be a serious risk to start a cinema. Still, I can't help but think of a midnight showing of 'Shottas' on big screen.