Éric Neuhoff: “The films have kept all their magic”

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He published in May, with Privat editions, a delicious “loving praise of cinemas”. Crazy lover of the 7th art, the journalist, film critic will be this Tuesday at the Cinémathèque to talk about cinema and neighborhood cinemas.

Crazy about cinema, writer and fascinating radio man, Eric Neuhoff publishes, at the invitation of Christian Authier, this delicious “Praise in love with cinemas” (Privat) which immediately takes us on board in these times when cinema was “an adventure, a trip” that we made without leaving the theater, after having swallowed an eskimo or confectionery and slipped a coin to the usherette. Legendary stars and films that have become classics, but don’t count on Neuhoff to sing the tune of “it was better before”: he always finds something to get excited about in dark rooms. He will return this evening to the Cinémathèque on rue du Taur, which he knows by heart (he grew up in Cahors and Toulouse) to talk about neighborhood cinemas… and the films of his life, of course. Rencontre.How was this book on cinemas of yesteryear born?

Firstly because Christian Authier kindly asked me to write it, and because I spent more time in cinemas – and in my bed – than anywhere else. The cinema for me was recess, holidays. Cinema is the future, not the present.

What was your first big shock at the cinema?

“The Adventurers” by Robert Enrico. There are two types of people: those who think that Fort-Boyard is the place where television games are shot, and those who remember that Alain Delon died there, to the music of Francois de Roubaix…

Did the cinema have a taste of the forbidden?

Ah yes, that was the reward: I did well at school to have pocket money to pay for my cinema shows. We went there on the sly, we shouldn’t get stung, especially since Cahors is a small town… It’s like in “Les 400 Coups”, basically. At the time, the cinemas were permanent, which meant that you could come in at any time and attend the next screening to catch up on the start you had missed. It was very exciting: we read in the newspaper that a film was going to be released, and we didn’t see it until six months later… I filled notebooks with the titles of the films. Later, I took the Capitole to go to Paris and there, I spent whole days at the cinema. There was no DVD. What also meant a lot to me was Patrick Brion’s Cinema at Midnight.

What fascination did films hold for you?

When I read a book, I identify with the author, while when I watch a film, I identify with the character: that’s the whole difference. Going to the cinema was first with the family, then with friends, then, when cinephilia fell on me, alone, to be quiet.

With a favorite place?

Yes: middle row, center. I’m not like those crazy people who put themselves in the front row! Moreover in Cahors, in the first row, we could see the holes through which the sound came out…

That time seems so far away…

Yes and, if I deplore the multiplexes which smell of crushed popcorn and the bathtub full of Coca-Cola, I still like going to the cinema and discovering films – that still happens to me often! The last Tarantino, “Once upon a time in Hollywood” is magnificent, “The Square”, the Palme d’or 2017, is to be seen, “Tree of Life”, “Of men and gods”, also… Afterwards, he is certain that the 70s, which correspond to my years of great cinephilia, were a prosperous time. So many great movies! In the book, I have fun listing all the good films of 1972 alone: ​​it’s amazing, everything that came out that year!

Hasn’t television replaced the movie theater for moviegoers? A good Blu-ray costs barely more than a movie ticket…

Ah, all the same, the Tarantino, it’s a shame to see him at home! Good films, you have to see them the first time in theaters… Books, I now know how to write them. Films, on the other hand, I still don’t know how they are made, they are very strange objects. They kept all their magic…

Interview by Yves Gabay

Meeting with Eric Neuhoff, illustrated by film extracts, Tuesday September 27 from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Cinémathèque de Toulouse (69, rue du Taur). Last book published: “Little praise in love with cinemas” (Privat, 192 pages, €17.80)

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Éric Neuhoff: “The films have kept all their magic”