PrintE-mail Written by Peter Turner

Everybody loves cinema, right? We've all seen a fair few films too. Some of us, many more than others. Director Paul Anton Smith celebrates his love of cinema by using what seems (and sometimes feels) like every film clip in existence that features, what else but a cinema. Smith has found plenty of footage, but the question is, was it really wise to use it all?

Like a super-cut that has grown too long for YouTube, Have You Seen My Movie? Meticulously pieces together clips from existing movies that feature characters at the cinema. At first, there is a story as we watch characters arrive in countless different clips, then they take their seats, then the trailers start, ushers sell sweets in the aisles and the audiences settle in to watch the movies.

So far so good, but it's here that Have You Sen My Movie? starts to lose its way. There's a certain novelty to seeing the old picture palaces and witnessing how the cinema experience has changed over the years. It's a sad reminder of what has been lost, particularly when seeing inside the projection rooms and seeing what film projection was like before the digital age. It's also disconcerting to see on the screen what is essentially a mirror image as the audiences stare at the screen, and we watch as their various reactions are captured.

But then Have You Seen My Movie? quickly falls into repetition. While celebrating the cinema experience, it soon makes the experience of watching the film almost interminable. It's like being caught in a time loop and the clip carousel goes round and round, exploring similar scenes, but from different movies. It also reveals a huge range of annoyances that go along with the the cinema experience, reminding of why sometimes it's sadly just better to watch a film at home without all the talkers, popcorn munchers, gropers and back-seat comedians to ruin the movie.

What helps is playing a game where you have to hope and wait for your own personal favourite cinema-set scenes to pop up. And unless your knowledge is ridiculously encyclopaedic, or you only watch films from say Nigeria, then Smith has probably found every one that you can think of. The range of films is astounding, covering classics of the Golden Age through to many modern examples.

It's brilliantly edited with sound being used to bridge clips and eye line matches making it appear as though characters from films made decades apart are sitting in the same cinema interacting with each other. And where else are you going to see a film that includes clips from such a diverse range of films as Adam Sandler’s Jack and Jill through to A Clockwork Orange. If only Smith had been a lot more discerning instead of using every clip under the sun.

Have You Seen My Movie? is clearly a work of huge endurance for its director, but sadly overstays its welcome and becomes a test for its audience. It might be a beautiful testament to the power of cinema to move us, but this ambitious and overlong movie-loving montage will make you long to watch a real movie… one where the cinema audience isn't constantly staring back at you from the screen.


Expected: 8/10
Actual Rating:

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