Finest Theatrical Experience(s)?

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Finest Theatrical Experience(s)?

Postby wvq » Fri Nov 15, 2002 7:56 pm

I suppose this topic might seem redundant, but, as a good many of us probably aren't lucky enough to be in a large metropolitan area, it might be a rare pleasure to see a great film on the big screen--I know it is for me--and so this topic might be deserving of some discussion. (By the way, I'm not some video-hater. If it wasn't for video, I wouldn't have seen the vast majority of the films I most cherish. Sure, it would be nice if there was a repertory theater on every street corner, but I don't see it happening anytime soon.)

So, what's been your best experience in the theater?

I doubt I can limit myself to one choice. I was fortunate enough to see Pickpocket, Vampyr, and Sunrise on the big screen--and for only a dollar!--through the university film society where I used to go to school. Yes, the prints were poor, and the sound was bad, and the seating was terrible, and almost no one else showed up (I think only about five people showed up for each showing), but you can't have it all.

I would have to say, however, that my finest theatrical experience was seeing Akerman's Jeanne Dielman in yet another student film society showing. (Fortunately, the theater was (somewhat) better this time around.) Not only is this film nearly impossible to see here in the States, but it strikes me that this is the sort of film which demands to be seen in the theater: the soundtrack was very impressive (and Bressonian really--all those exaggerated diegetic sound effects), and the movie certainly accumulates power when you're forced to remain in your seat for three-and-a-half hours and be complicit in Ms. Dielmann's chores and her inevitable breakdown and (I suppose) some of her boredom too. (Still, only about twenty people showed up--on a campus of nearly 20,000--and of those who did show up only about half made it to the end.)

I suppose sitting in the theater for the better part of an evening and watching a woman's housework also makes us complicit in her being subjugated by the patriarchy and all, although I didn't pick up a lot of feminist hectoring in the film--not that it would be such a bad thing if I had. The film struck me as part formal exercise and part horror film (a sort of tract on the absolute banality of repression and its inevitable consequence, namely, the eruption of suppressed feeling), without much in the way of political overtones. (Actually, now that I think about it, it sort of reminds me of Romero's Martin in that both are exposes of the dirt behind the petit bourgeois daydream or something like that.)

Re: Finest Theatrical Experience(s)?

Postby katsuben » Mon Nov 18, 2002 7:51 am

This all sounds strangely familiar. My film society is luck to obtain a handful of spectators to any screening. One night, for Ozu's Early Spring, this shot up to twenty viewers. Go figure. Few came again though.

Wish I could see Jeanne Dielman in a big screen environment. Sounds great! When I was just getting into films I was lucky to see Citizen Kane in an outdoor, botanical gardens, venue. Lush! The Vertigo re-release rocked my world. Funny Games screwed me up inside and made me paranoid at the after-movie drinks. Similarly with The Ring. I have no idea why these two films rather than others (I don't even like them to any great extent...though I prefer The Ring). Have watched Cockfighter on 16mm, had a projector breakdown, and completed seeing it on Steenbeck (with several people huddled around the monitor). I found Ordet to be a profound viewing experience (and far less so on tape). Again, not really a favourite of mine but the contemplative affect was startling. I think one of the best experiences on video, incidentally, was Stalker, which holds up very well in that medium. One film I would love to see in the theatre is Alien. Too young for its initial release, no opportunities (here) since. I'd finally like to hear some of the dialogue that Ripley utters at the climax...

Re: Finest Theatrical Experience(s)?

Postby somegreatmovies » Mon Nov 18, 2002 1:45 pm

katsuben: Ever since I read your post I have been driven insane... Your story about having seen Cockfighter on a Steenbeck, after the projector broke down reminded me of the exact same story I read in some article on Monte Hellman’s work. I thought it was Chuck Steven’s article in film comment, but I re-read it and it is not… so are you that film critic? If so, where is the article? If not, did you notice any film critics in the room with you that night? Please help, or else my head will explode trying to remember this.

By the way, my greatest theatrical experiences have been Van Gogh (Pialat), Puppetmaster, all the Sembene, Godard, and Kiarostami I've been able to see in New York, the Sayles Retrospective, Regaurding Penelope's Wake, Dorsky's The Visistation, and Lewis Kalahr's Daylight Moon at the Walter Reed (in fact, everything I've ever seen at the Walter Reed), and the Straight Story and Thin Red Line at my local multiplex, and the hundreds of others at any time, at any place I get a chance to see a movie on the big screen... ALSO: seeing Pootie Tang and Kundun alone, in empty theaters.

Re: Finest Theatrical Experience(s)?

Postby somegreatmovies » Mon Nov 18, 2002 1:48 pm

and seeing Barbershop (a wonderfully entertaining film) in a packed house... not talking over the film, but clearly appreciative.

Re: Finest Theatrical Experience(s)?

Postby Curt46n2 » Mon Nov 18, 2002 10:16 pm

I live in a small town and there are no theaters that show any films other than new releases. Having said that, the best film I ever saw in the theater was "Road to Perdition." A great movie. Also, I have to say this. This might not sound like an intellectual comment, but I think we can all agree that it's true. Sometimes watching a movie with tons of explosions and great special effects in the theater is an experience. I saw Independence Day when it came out, and I must say that was amazing.

Re: Finest Theatrical Experience(s)?

Postby somegreatmovies » Tue Nov 19, 2002 1:49 am

Found it! Notes on the 2001 Flinders University Film Society Programme by James Brown in Sense of Cinema... now my head will not explode.

Re: Finest Theatrical Experience(s)?

Postby Arletty » Tue Nov 19, 2002 5:51 am

I grew up in a small town which was blessed with a Cinema Club and at my first visit to their theatre (in a church hall) I saw a documentary on the Zuider Zee followed by Le Souffle au Coeur. All in all a top night out. Things have progressed for me now because I subscribe to World Movies which is showing, among other treats, Chongqing Senlin this week. I am looking forward to it.

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