Blockbuster Blues: Summer 2017 the End of The Oxford

Like you, I am frustrated and dismayed at the announcement that The Oxford Theatre in Halifax is closing September 13.

Frustrated at the way this city undervalues its cultural spaces. Frustrated by the way the sale of this beloved cinema happened behind closed doors, before the community had any opportunity to have a say in the matter. And frustrated that the last single screen cinema will soon go the way of the great cinemas of Halifax’s past, such as The Capitol and The Vogue.

I am dismayed because of all the great movie memories I’ve had at The Oxford. Somewhere in the 10th or 11th row from the screen you can probably still find my fingerprints in the armrest of a seat from that 2006 white-knuckle screening of Match Point.

There’ve been so many wonderful red carpet events at the Atlantic Film Festival, crowded into the seats, enjoying great and fascinating features like American Honey, Holy Motors, and In A Better World. Meeting Evelyne Brochu out front before the screening of Inch’Allah, and getting to ask her all about the tattoos she wore in Cafe de Floremy favourite film of the previous year. Then there was that time they screened Passchendaele and Paul Gross was there to present it to an audience full of our brothers and sisters in the military. I thought it was a ridiculous movie, but the crowd loved it.

The Oxford will be deeply missed. Here’s a great piece it from Chris Benjamin in Halifax Magazine and another by Myles McNutt in The Coast.

Here’s my Oxford Theatre talk-tape on CBC Radio from Friday morning. And here’s a lovely collection of photos from inside The Oxford from my fellow Halifax Blogger, Stephen Archibald.

This news makes for an especially dark end of the summer season, even as we film nuts gear up for the Atlantic International Film Festival. For those looking to enjoy The Oxford one more time, Wind River is still playing, and starting on September 8th they’re screening a bunch of classic films. Go to the Cineplex site and check out the Oxford for the full rundown.

Beyond this, it’s actually been a reasonably solid summer at the movies. I offered the list of my dozen most anticipated films back in May and I was right on the money: Wonder Woman was both the summer’s biggest crowd-pleasing sensation and single-handedly saved the DC cinematic universe. Dunkirk was an extraordinary technical feat, and an impressive epic on the big screen. Detroit was intense and harrowing. I think it’s a good movie, but it hasn’t stayed in my memory like I thought it would, and I think it’s let down by its third act.

Baby Driver might be the summer’s best popcorn movie, while Sofia Coppola’s The Beguiled revamped Clint Eastwood’s ’70s psychodrama, and Atomic Blonde delivered top drawer stunts and hand-to-hand combat action.

On Netflix, Okja was the summer’s must-see-at-home picture.

Other pleasant surprises were Spider-Man: Homecoming, splicing your friendly, neighbourhood superhero picture with John Hughes, The Big Sick, telling a real-life romantic comedy and adding some healthcare and culture-clash drama, and War For The Planet of the Apes, which was so surprisingly good it rescued that entire simian franchise for me.

And that wasn’t all: Ingrid Goes West, The Little Hours and Landline all delivered big laughs from female leads. Lady Macbeth and My Cousin Rachel brought corsets, politics, and a little counter-programming Hitchcock to the otherwise escapist summer fare.

I’d say the only real disappointment in the past three months for me was Luc Besson’s Valarian.  A Ghost Story left me cold, but I appreciated the concept. And while it’s true I didn’t see everything in cinemas—I was sorry to have missed Beatriz At Dinner, do you really need me to tell you that the most recent Transformers or Pirates of the Caribbean weren’t life-changing experiences?

About the author


Carsten Knox is a massive, cheese-eating nerd. In the day he works as a journalist in Halifax, Nova Scotia. At night he stares out at the rain-slick streets, watches movies, and writes about what he's seeing.