Jonathan Melville - Reeltime

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HOW do you decide which films to see at the cinema?

I asked myself that question on Saturday night after watching the stunning Drive, the neo-noir crime thriller starring Ryan Gosling, a quilted satin jacket and the dark side of LA. Having been drawn in by Drive’s achingly tense opening moments and a plot which felt like that of a 1940s film noir remade in 2011, I realised I didn’t recall watching the trailer, had avoided any reviews and that 100 minutes earlier I wasn’t even a Ryan Gosling fan.

So what piece of marketing magic parted me from my cash to see the film? My first stop was YouTube, where I played the trailer just to make sure I hadn’t already seen it. Stuffed with some of Drive’s best moments, had I watched it before the film I’m not sure I’d have bothered taking the time going to the cinema.

I then realised I’d been reading snippets of praise for Drive on Twitter for a few weeks, leading me to carry out a highly unscientific poll asking what it was that encourages others to see a new movie. Sifting through responses from a few dozen people, it turned out that trailers came out on top, friends’ thoughts second and that the occasional review was thrown in for good measure.

Does this mean critics should stick to giving their thoughts in a tweet or two? Or are film fans who aren’t on Twitter still happy to read longer reviews, such as those in this very paper?

I suspect it’s the latter, that we’ll always need to take in views and reviews from multiple sources to discover the best releases, but it’s a sign that things are changing fast. At least Reel Time hasn’t been cut to 140 characters a week . . . yet.

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