GET BUSY LIVIN’
The Best Way Out of Movie Jail
Article by Paul Preston
People in love with Los Angeles often give similar reasons for why they’re so enamored – the weather, the nightlife, the variety of terrain (beaches! mountains! ski slopes! forest!) and more. There’s one reason I always bring up: I can see my favorite movie of all time, Raiders of the Lost Ark, somewhere on the big screen, with a crowd, at least once every year. And it’s not the same every time. Once I saw it with a Q&A with the filmmakers, once in an outdoor arena with accompaniment by a live orchestra, and a couple of times in a double feature with another Indiana Jones original trilogy films (if I’m not mistaken, there are only three Indy movies…).
This access to classic film events is unique to Los Angeles, and if you’re not taking advantage of it, you’re missing out on a signature City of Angels experience. Classic movies are celebrated every night all over the city in a range of settings – revival houses, special one-nighters at art house cinemas, film societies and summertime outdoor screenings, to name a few. No doubt this article will reach people outside of L.A., and if so, check your town for what kind of revival and throwback theater presence there is, but in Los Angeles, here are a few options:
The New Beverly Cinema, Hollywood (Thenewbev.com) – every night a classic or hidden gem from the past.
Cinefamily at The Silent Movie Theatre, Hollywood (cinefamily.org) – every night a throwback film or a movie event or in-theater experience.
American Cinematheque at The Aero Theatre (Santa Monica) and Egyptian Theatre (Hollywood) (americancinematheque.com) – four nights a week of classic films, film series and Q&As.
Arclight Presents at Arclight Cinemas in SoCal (arclightcinemas.com) – a calendar of classic films, usually set to a theme (tickets to one of these screenings are included with your Arclight membership!).
El Capitan Theatre, Hollywood (elcapitantheatre.com) – Disney’s Hollywood theater will include classic Disney films in their calendar.
Cinespia, Hollywood Forever Cemetery and other locations (cinespia.org) and Eat See Hear (eatseehear.com) – outdoor screenings of classic movies in a party setting.
I’ve hosted a couple hundred episodes of a podcast over at TheMovieGuys.net and iTunes called The Movie Showcast, and we have a phrase over there called “Movie Jail”. If there’s a film you should’ve seen by now and haven’t, you’re in Movie Jail. Haven’t seen The Shawshank Redemption? Rocky? STAR WARS (I know some of these people)? You’re in Movie Jail. Half the fun of Movie Jail is determining if you’re really in Movie Jail for not having seen a certain title. For example, if you haven’t seen E.T. – Movie Jail for you. But if you haven’t seen Smokey and the Bandit…is that Movie Jail? Talk amongst yourselves.
I only got out of Movie Jail for the classic A Christmas Story two years ago (despite the million airings on cable TV – I didn’t want to see it with commercials!). Just to show not everyone is immune to Movie Jail, next month Cinefamily is showing Roman Polanski’s The Tenant. Never seen it, and now I can change that.
The best way out of Movie Jail isn’t to hit Netflix and finally catch Defending Your Life (or insert movie here), but get your ass out to a revival/classic/throwback screening in Los Angeles. There’s no better way to be invited into the wonderful world of a great film than by the hordes of fans who will be surrounding you as you cross over to the side of the enlightened. Director Julia Marchese once appeared on our podcast to talk about her film, Out of Print, a film loaded up with arguments to see films the way they were meant to be seen – in a theater! The talking heads in Julia’s film go into even further detail, encouraging you to see film and not video projection, which is to truly take in the piece of art that is the result of the film team’s hard work (the interesting contention is that a Blu-Ray or digital file is not the result of the art, but merely a representation of it).
If you’re a student of the movies, as an actor or filmmaker, consider these year-round screenings of legendary films additional (and damn-near required) film or acting school. Take in Al Pacino’s remarkable turn as Michael Corleone in The Godfather films on the big screen, encircled by the faithful. Are you a young filmmaker who talks about Quentin Tarantino a lot but has only seen Django and The Hateful Eight? Go back and catch the 25th anniversary of his masterpiece Reservoir Dogs on 35mm at The New Beverly (routinely!). Lawrence of Arabia’s majestic cinematography, Clint Eastwood’s epic Man With No Name, and John Hughes’ original band of misfits, The Breakfast Club are just a few of the classic stories that come to life again regularly in the town that made them famous.
There’s no size requirement to the venue, either. Los Angeles will find a way to shed some group love on a movie in all manner of locations. Need to get out of Movie Jail with Singin’ in the Rain? Come on down to UME Credit Union in Burbank this summer, where we’re showing it for free in the parking lot (Aug. 18th)! Bring a chair and bring your appetite for the food trucks. I will be there hosting the event. Later in the summer, we’ll celebrate the 30th anniversary of The Princess Bride and I will get out of Movie Jail at UME’s screening of Hocus Pocus.
See, it’s never too late to Shawshank your way out of Movie Jail. Movies are forever.
(If I’m missing any great places to see classic films, post them in the comments!)