What is cinema?
Doctors of Philosophy and marijauna-addled Cultural Studies undergrads both have discussed this at length to varying degrees of consensus—while the film scholars debate whether film strives to represent a perception of the world or tries to imagine a new experience of it (the word “Kino” gets bandied about herein, prompting only further serious muttering), the budding students seem to agree that whatever Wes Anderson does probably satisfies the taxnonomical criteria.
We, at the irreproachable monolith of cultural authority which is Arthur, however, assuredly know the truth. Dear reader, the only thing that can categorically, unequivocally, and definitively be conferred the title of “cinema” in anno domini Two-Thousand and Twenty-Three is a concurrent release of what looks to be Christopher Nolan’s first(?) good(?) film and a biblical opus of unfathomable scope and subject matter helmed by none other than Greta Gerwig.
It’s pink, it’s dour, it’s powered by nuclear fission (and flowers!).
I hear they call it… “Barbenheimer.”
Yes, despite our séjour in the woods dear reader, it could not escape even our notice that “Barbenheimer” is big news! The fact that this monumental juncture has even been bestowed its own blessed portmanteau is, if anything, mere affirmation of the cultural significance of this occasion. The double feature of the century, some would say, perhaps even the greatest cinematic event since that one heritage post about The Lord of the Rings.
For this reason, we put our bodies and minds on the figurative line. If this were a YouTube video, you can be assured it would be called something obscene like “We Watched Barbenheimer So You Don’t Have To.” We are, however, more erudite than such clickbait-searching rubes.
Instead, dear reader, I have the pleasure to relay to you—by tried-and-tested means of *gasp* the written word—our itinerary for that cultural event which is 2023’s veritable Second Coming. It seemed only right that Arthur should be there to experience that which would surely lead our editorial staff to some sort of enlightenment. This, we reasoned, might well prove the instance of our escape from the Matrix, and who would we be to withhold the good word from our readership?
Having pre-purchased tickets on the morn of July 11th, 2023, we are at least twice as prepared as everyone else intending to see these films. Not simply that, we just so adore giving our money to the Cineplex corporation that we resolved to do so earlier than we strictly speaking needed to!
At 10:00 on the day of, nonetheless, we rendez-vous at our Sadleir House office for three cups of coffee and a preparatory listen of Tears for Fears’ “Everybody Wants to Rule the World.” As scholars of culture all, and as a Metal Gear Solid fan myself, nothing sets the tone for serious discussions of the morality of nuclear war than inappropriate throwback 80s New Wave needle drops.
We sure hope this movie sufficiently placates our uncomplicated, capital "L" Liberal North American exceptionalist ideals. After all, there's nothing worse in a movie about the development of the most heinous weapon ever conceived by human hands than politics!
The rest of the morning passes without incident. After typing a strenuous two words, I lean back in my office chair, cross my arms behind my head, and set “Killing Game” by Skinny Puppy to play on repeat, while Sebastian sweats like H*ck No filling out insurance forms in the seat next to me.
Abby, poised as ever with her bestickered Macbook, quietly sips a Bubly which smells and tastes exactly like Coppertone®.
After a monumental three hours of work, we delete the latest email from the CRA asking us to file our employment taxes and set our out-of-office notice to inform anyone so imprudent as to send us an email that we are, in fact, “in the woods.” We leave no later than 13:30 to make our way to Galaxy Cinemas Peterborough. Along the way, Editor-in-Chief Sebastian Johnston-Lindsay consumes his tenth cigarette of the day. Trust, dear reader, that it will not be his last.
He will go on to smoke another three during the twenty-minute walk.
We, having conferred at length on the subject, reasoned to begin our day’s activities with Christopher Nolan’s Oppenheimer, 1) because that movie looks SAD, 2) it’s three fucking hours long 3) I want to be fully lucid for when I tear into this thing on Letterboxd.
Following our 13:50 arrival at Galaxy Cinemas, I pound two pints of Boneshaker unfiltered IPA in the lobby of the theatre, and Abby posts an update to our Instagram story underscored by a boygenius song. Sebastian, meanwhile, is throwing lipstick tubes and prescription estrogen bottles every which way as he rifles through his purse in search of a Traill College notebook in which to record his impressions of the film for posterity.
By 14:00 we are well and truly settled to see Oppenheimer. Obviously, we have chosen to sit in the very frontmost row for the purposes of optimally seeing Cillian Murphy’s gaunt man-chest during the intense and passionate lovemaking scene he shares with Florence Pugh. While my colleagues sit in rapt admiration, I lazily scroll through my Pinterest feed to virtue signal to those around me that I am not like other girls (/homosexual).
Halfway through, at 15:35, I take my leave to expunge the contents of my bladder. Upon clueing in to the fact that the girl with the deep voice I was holding hands with at the urinals is, in fact, a heterosexual man with a beard, I gasp in horror as it dawns on me that I have inadvertently committed an act of bathroom invasion, and am in fact in the men’s washroom with the band of a Calvin Klein bralette very much visible through my mesh top.
My comrade in watersports is, however, graciously nonchalant about the mix-up, and by 15:40 I return, and our story thus continues.
Just after 17:00 the Arthur crew stumble out of the theatre, eager to see the sunlight for the first time in three hours of close-ups of Cillian Murphy’s Skeletor-ass face. Immediately thereafter I launch into an impassioned tirade about Christopher Nolan being “the most overrated active director, man,” while Sebastian apologizes to the Cineplex staff for making a scene.
After several minutes of the editors tuning out my ramblings whilst Water Street passers-by give judgemental glares, our courageous cabal makes our way to our perennial haunt—The Only Cafe—for a much-needed soup detox.
It’s not long there before Abby has commandeered the aux from the endlessly patient barkeep, and is blasting boygenius’ the record for the (dis)pleasure of all the late afternoon barflies. Having just seen a very serious movie about the morality of war, we understandably need our proverbial palettes cleansed via saccharine sadgirl music.
No more than half an hour later, and I am doing four shots of Ciroc in a bid to “heighten my senses” for the spectacle to come. Sebastian watches the spectacle, rapt, his hands still curled around the cup of black coffee he’s been nursing since our collective arrival.
We reconvene shortly at our table, “True Blue” still scoring the background of said proceedings. Having broken into Abby’s phone while she was in the bathroom using the cardboard cutout of her face I keep on my person, I begin to surreptitiously blend hyperpop songs into the playlist such that when Barbie time rolls around we will be well and truly primed to experience the cinematic equivalent of PC Music.
Sebastian has somehow written thirteen articles in the interim, entirely in the notes app of his ten-year-old iPhone.
By 18:30 we and the bottle of Pink Whitney hidden in my skirts are back and ready to Barbie. One Galaxy Cinema employee audibly sighs as they see us re-enter the premises. After again updating our story, and posting angry replies to the people screaming bloody indignation in our comments and direct messages, Abby leads us to the concession stand so that we might all replace the majority of our blood content with Diet Coke®.
During the pre-show, we perform a rousing a cappella rendition of Aqua’s timeless classic “Lollipop (Candyman),” before Sebastian gets up to two-step to “Vroom Vroom” by Charli XCX during the trailers.
At this point the hype has gone too far, and there truly is no reigning in Barbie delirium. Seizing any nearby instruments vaguely resembling torches and/or pitchforks, we heed the good word of Greta Gerwig, set fire to the silver screen, and march on Peterborough City Hall in solidarity with the Writer’s Guild of America.
Having deposed the municipal government, Arthur quickly instates itself as a people’s commissariat with the promise to abolish Trent University, turn Southern Ontario into a stateless, classless society, and issue a feminizing hormone prescription to every single man younger than thirty-five.
Thus, the true meaning of Barbenheimer is revealed to us.
The history of all hitherto film releases is the history of class struggle—of the myriad tireless workers whose labour goes unacknowledged as people sit through Marvel Studios credits only hoping to catch a glimpse of Alexander Skarsgård as The Gray Rainbow, a closeted gay superhero whose powers are generated by the tortured feelings imposed by his own sexuality.
The cause for labour is the hope for this world, and amid an entertainment spectacle on the scale of this, it’s easy to forget such a thing. As we at Arthur are each movie lovers and labourers both, we salute the Best Boys and Gaffers and Second Grips of this world who help make movies what they are.
Most of all, as fellow writers sufficiently devoted to the medium so as to write novella-length digressions on its subject, we support the brave writers-in-arms on the picket lines sticking it to the pallid bloodsuckers in Hollywood.
Perhaps, Barb willing, there’s hope for this world yet.
As for our thoughts on the movies? Well for that, dear reader, you’ll have to follow Evan on Letterboxd to find out.
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