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.)