‘REPUBLIC OF CINEMA’: DUBLIN WRITER SEEKS TO VISIT EVERY CINEMA Screen IN REPUBLIC OF IRELAND, CELEBRATES MOVIEGOING EXPERIENCE IN COMPELLING BLOG
DUBLIN — Simon FitzGerald doesn’t need much to make him happy: a good, comfortable seat in the dark; a screen 40 feet wide with engaging stories unfolding on it; and afterward, maybe a pint. Or two. Over which he’ll write out his latest blog entry — before checking his watch and moving on to the next large, dark room, fitting in as many movie screenings as he can before his wallet empties and it’s time to go back out into the sun.
FitzGerald, 32, a native of Ballybrack, County Dublin, launched his ambitious cinema blog project, “Republic of Cinema,” last fall. But he’s not just another online movie reviewer. His stated goal is to see a movie in every cinema hall in the Republic of Ireland. Not just in every cinema; on every screen. All 462 of them.
Six months into the project, he’s almost a fifth of the way there. He’s been from Dublin to Wicklow, Wexford to Tipperary, standing in queues and sitting in the dark. In his blog, “The Republic of Cinema,” he ponders the movies he sees — sometimes by the luck of the draw, as he juggles multiple screenings to make the most of a weekend excursion. While trying to hit all the screens in one theatre, he’s even found himself watching certain films more than once — sometimes with delight (MIDNIGHT IN PARIS and 50/50), sometimes not (IMMORTALS).
Either way, he doesn’t shy away from a passionate review. His writing is reflective, personal, funny — and it’s clear he deeply loves the medium and magic of film. “Give me a movie that is smart, funny, surprising, thought-provoking and has some heart,” he declares. “Throw in a beautiful redhead, and I’m sold.”
But FitzGerald also carefully considers the places where he and so many others gather to see these cinematic delights. His blog dwells at length on the bustle and convenience of the multiplex and the hidden delights of the independent film hall. He’s unabashed in his criticism of moviegoers whose behavior disrupts a good picture, and writes rousingly about how the right clutch of fellow film buffs can deepen one’s enjoyment.
He even points out good, nearby places to grab a post-show pint and debate with friends the finer points of the movie they’ve just seen.
That’s a big part of the fun, he says — and it has a dual purpose. In addition to juggling a full-time banking job and his “Republic of Cinema” mission, FitzGerald is also one-third of the award-winning “Pubcast” podcast, wherein he and fellow “Irish nerds” Wayne Talbot and Graham Doyle visit a variety of pubs to raise their glasses and record energetic, insightful dissections of movies, TV shows, comics and other pop culture offerings.
Despite his busy schedule, FitzGerald has checked off more than 85 movie hall screens to date in his cinematic trek across Ireland. He anticipates finishing his tour latenext year — by December, if possible, just ion time for The Hobbit: There And Back Again.
But he also knows he’s aiming at a moveable target. When he began, on Sept. 23, 2011, there were 443 total cinema halls across Ireland. With the opening of the new IMC multiplex in Tallaght last month, that total climbed to 462. Time is also precious, and ticket prices can be dear.
“I work a full week, and I’m not the millionaire I’d hoped to be at this stage in my life,” he says, a characteristic twinkle in his eye. But he remains undaunted.
“To see a movie in every film hall in the Republic, and remind people why nothing compares to the big screen?” he says. “That’s a worthy goal.”
He adds: “If nothing else, it’s giving this Dublin boy a chance to see as much of our beautiful country as possible.”
After another adventure in the dark, anyway.
Visit the Republic of Cinema blog at:
Learn more about Pubcast at: