Monday, September 29, 2014

Big Screen Safari

As you can probably gather, I love old movies, and there is really nothing like seeing them in the theater with an audience. This was driven home this year when I went to the TCM Classic Film Festival for the first time, 16 great movies over 4 days with the time in between spent geeking out with other people who love old movies just as much as I do.

Naturally, coming back to just watching them on TV was kind of a let-down. The thing is I live a pretty decent sized city, San Diego, but it's no L.A. or New York. There isn't what you would call a thriving classic film scene. Then again, it's not non-existent either, but you do have to hunt around to find it.  In the months of August and September, I managed to see 8 classic film on the big screen, but to find classic films you may need to venture outside of the multiplex. Of the eight movies, I saw two a piece at four different venues:
  • AMC Mission Valley 20 – Straight-up multiplex, but on occasion, they do special screenings of classic movies; you want to see more of this, you have to support them
  • Arclight La Jolla – While technically this is a multiplex as well, it's what I call a boutique theater, bar/cafe in the lobby, and they have an ongoing series, Arclight Presents, where they show classic and foreign films, usually one showing only
  • Cinema Under the Stars – This is most unusual venue of the bunch, films are shown on about a 20-foot screen on the patio of a restaurant; you sit in reclining patio chairs and are provided with a pillow and a blanket; bonus, each film is shown with a classic cartoon at the beginning
  • Ken Cinema - Old neighborhood theater from the 1940s run by the Landmark Theater chain and recently converted to digital; yes, I know you want film on film but it's the 21st Century, you need to be able to show digital to survive
So what were the films?
  • The Godfather [Ken Cinema] – The Ken had almost closed, and to celebrate remaining open, they had a week-long festival of movies from the 60s and 70s
  • The Wizard of Oz [Arclight La Jolla] – Part of the Arclight Presents series, always a treat to see The Wizard of Oz in the theater, next time, I'm bringing Pink Floyd and headphones
  • The Great Escape [Ken Cinema] – Not a huge fan of War movies, but The Great Escape is just so good
  • Ghostbusters [AMC Mission Valley] – Does this really count as a classic? In my book, yes, and it was being rereleased as part of its 30th anniversary
  • Rear Window [Cinema Under the Stars] – My first time at the venue and gotta say, I dig it; they announced that they will continue through December
  • M [Arclight La Jolla] - Had never seen this movie, oh my God, so good, a new favorite
  • Casablanca [Cinema Under the Stars] – My number one all-time favorite film, would watch this movie on the big screen once a week if I could, although might get sick of it after a year or so
  • Gone With the Wind [AMC Mission Valley, courtesy of TCM and Fathom Events] – Granddaddy of all classic films; mostly packed theater, there were empty seats but if you wanted two together you had to be in the front rows, hope to see more things like this in the future

So what's on the bill for next month? Well, it is October, so checking the usual suspects, looks like mostly horror. These are just the ones I'm most likely to see:
  • From Dusk Till Dawn –  Okay, probably not a classic, but 1996 is now pushing 20 years, and it is Robert Rodriguez and Quintin Tarentino, besides, my blog, my rules
  • Blazing Saddles  as a midnight movie, okay, takes a lot to get me motivated to see a midnight movie these days, then again Blazing Saddles is a lot of motivation
Now, I know you're thinking, what's my point? Is it just to make people jealous of all the cool stuff I've seen lately? Okay, partly, yeah. But the real point is, if you want to see classic movies in the theater, you might need to hunt for them. Try googling, classic film and [name of city you live in]. You never know what will turn up. Maybe, the local university is having a Film Noir festival, or the central library is showing schlocky Horror movies Thursday nights in October. The point is that classic films are out there, you just need to hunt for them. To steal a line from one of my favorite films of the 90s, L.A. Story, you just might "need a pickaxe, a compass, and night goggles to find them."

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