Thursday, July 21, 2011

Trash Pile Love Notes: Independent Theaters

If there's one thing I wish I owned it would be a time machine. Most people seem to think that the advantage of owning a device that can transport you through time is financial. While yes, I would obviously exploit the future there is a bigger appeal in enjoying the culture of the past. With my preference to older movies I would be at the cinema almost every weekend seeing my favorites. Travel back to the late '70s to see all the schlock on display on 42nd St. in New York, visiting the Combat Zone in Boston, and probably any premier at Grauman's Chinese Theater would be pretty cool. Alas, my faith in technology has been shattered. Automatic toilets, and no way to travel back in time? For shame, science, for shame.

One benefit of living in the city of Boston is that we have a large amount of independent theaters, and many of which who are able to show 35mm versions of great cult films. For most movie viewers seeing the original print really doesn't matter to them, but for an anal-retentive nerd like myself it's pretty cool to say I've seen the original print of 'Suspiria', 'Escape from New York', and even 'Nightmare City'. Theaters in and around Boston have started to really push the demand for classic original prints on the big screen, and every year there are new prints discovered to be shown to audiences.

The Coolidge Corner Theater in Brookline, MA is one of these theaters that really shows their love for cult genres. Every weekend could contain Italian gore, '70s exploitation, slashers, and classic comedies. The program is called Coolidge @fter Midnight, and I must say the people who run this are able to secure some great films. I've been going to this theater now for about 5 years, and they have been getting a better variety every year. I've seen 'Friday the 13th 3D', 'The Thing', 'Dream House' and many more. So far this year we've seen films like 'Hobo With a Shotgun', 'Jaws 3D', 'Rolling Thunder', and 'The Burning' just to name a few. Later this year we'll get the epic melt movie 'Street Trash', the Fulci masterpiece 'The Beyond', 'The Warriors', 'Critters', and even the Alicia Sliverstone...uhh...classic, 'Clueless'. If you're in the Boston region I suggest check these guys out as they really put a lot of time and love in getting such amazing films for their audience. This weekend I will be catching their showing of Peter Jackson's 'Dead-Alive' which is one to cross off the list.

Another great theater is in Harvard square, and it is The Brattle Theater. The Brattle opened its doors in '54, and is a non-profit organization. This is another theater I've visited numerous times over the years, and I love the experience. It's a one screen theater, but has a phenomenal balcony. I've seen films like 'The Great Escape', 'Escape from New York', 'The TrollHunter', 'Suspiria', 'Nightmare City', and even 'Creature from the Black Lagoon' in 3D! That was one of the best experiences I've had going to this theater as the Creature has always been my favorite Universal Monster. Later this month at The Brattle you can catch the recent Grindhouse saga including Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez's 'Grindhouse','Machete', and the fucking epic 'Hobo With a Shotgun'. You can also check out some classic Hitchcock like 'North by Northwest' in their celebration of the great composer Bernard Herrmann (also showing is the classic Ray Harryhausen films 'Jason and the Argonauts' and 'The 7th Voyage of Sinbad'.)

The Strand
in Clinton, MA is another theater that takes a lot of time in making time for the classics of cinema. The first time I went there was to see 'Ghostbusters', and that was one of the best movie going experiences of my life. Granted, I was quoting most of the movie (I'm pretty sure I've seen this movie around 75 times), but the excitement of seeing it not only on the big screen but also the original print was fantastic. Every year The Strand shows the Steven Spielberg classic 'Jaws', and that is also something pretty fantastic. The Strand was built in 1924 as a Vaudeville and movie theater up until the last '70s. Every year there is "The Classics" series in which many films are shown over the summer weeks including 'Monty Python and The Holy Grail', 'Ferris Bueller's Day Off' and 'The Sting'. If you're only searching out the cult and exploitation movies I'd look elsewhere though. The Strand is pretty family friendly, but will get recent R rated hits in (primarily comedies and dramas)

One of the last theaters that I'll take the time to promote is the Somerville Theater in Somerville, MA. The Somerville Theater was built in 1914, and much like The Strand was a place for Vaudeville acts to shine. The one thing to really love about this theater is that they show current movies, and at a very affordable price. However they will also show classics like the theaters mentioned above. 'Jaws', 'The Goonies', 'A Clockwork Orange', and 'The Princess Bride' are just some of the films that will show this summer alone. You can find some great cult and horror films come October. Last year the theater saw the J.Cannibal's Feast of Flesh in which the fantastic Fred Dekker film, 'Night of The Creeps' played.

These are just some of the theaters that I've been to in the Boston area, and I'm sure I haven't even scratched the surface. At some point I need to take a road trip to the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema to catch the amazing films they show every month. I'm sure I'm not the only who appreciates the effort that is given to find these prints of rare films, and I hope now some of you will visit these and other theaters.


Holly said...

Clueless was an instant classic. Duh. Do movie theaters just no longer have 35mm projectors any longer? That seems like a shame...

Chris said...

Most theaters are going digital, which is a great technical leap forward in the look and feel of a movie. However,my personal preference is towards the age of film. The crackles, to me, gives the movie a real life of its own.

Holly said...

I mean, that's how I always grew up seeing movies. To not see the tiny scratches and spots on the film as you're watching the movie seems sort of strange and foreign.