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Saturday, September 5, 2009


In spite of what a lot of people say, L.A. is a great place to see movies. At any one time, we get first run movies before other cities; we have tons of film festivals from countries one didn't even know existed; we have a second run theater or two; and we have lots and lots of film programs where you can see films that haven't even come out on Netflix. So why is it that every once in awhile, a weekend comes and it turns into cable TV--all those extra channels and you still can't find anything you want to watch.
This weekend became one of those times. Weekends are the times I especially look forward to in going to movies because the options seem endless, often frustratingly so (do I go to that Lower Slobovian film by that director whose name no one can pronounce but if I don't go see it now, it may never show up in L.A. again and without seeing it my soul may be irreparably damaged and I'll miss another gut wrenching journey into the depths of humanity, or do I see that double feature of Anthony Mann films since somehow, for reasons I can't explain or justify, I've never really seen an Anthony Mann film--believe me, from a film goer's point of view, that's a tough call) . But this was not to be one of those choice filled Friday through Sundays. Which was doubly frustrating since it was so hot and movie theaters are a great escape from the heat (see, movies have their practical side, too).
In deciding what I want to go see in a theater on the weekend, I never start with first run theaters for no other reason than the prices are much higher unless I want to go to the first show. For example, weekends immediately take out any Laemmle Theaters (like the Sunset V) because Tuesdays are $6.00 ticket days, so I usually wait until then and make a smorgasbord of it all. And I almost never go to the Arclight anymore because of the ridiculously high prices (and ofttimes many of the tent pole films open at places like the Vista, which are cheaper--especially the first shows--and just as nice). For example, I still haven't seen (500) Days of Summer and I waited until Cold Souls moved to Sunset V.
Transportation is another issue. I don't have a car so I'm one of those people who according to Joan Didion don't exist in L.A. I take public transportation. This removes from consideration places like the Landmark or theaters in Santa Monica and puts on the back burner theaters that require me to take the bus home late at night where if you miss one, you may have to wait an hour for the next one.
I also don't want to go all the way out to the Nuart unless there's also something to see at the Royal since they are so close together. The Nuart only has matinees on weekends, so I don't want to travel all the way out there just to see a 5:00 show during the week. But I'm willing to make the trip if there's something also at the Royal and I can kill two birds with one stone in the bush. In addition, the Royal has weekday matinees (and is a Laemmle, so it's also a $6.00 Tuesday theater) so I usually don't go to them on the weekend.

Stop me if this starts sounding more and more neurotic like I'm in an episode of Monk.
In addition, I only go to the Beverly Center during the week. It costs just a semi-thin quarter to take the DASH bus there (which doesn't run on Sundays) and the theater also has cheap matinees. The Beverly Center is also a great place to catch up on movies you missed since it almost, but not quite, acts like a second run theater. One has to put up with the small screens, but one can't have everything.
So there was nothing at the first run theaters that pricked my ears or that I could get to or that I was willing to spend an outrageous amount of money on. Which was fine, because I usually like going to second run or film programs anyway. I usually find the movies more interesting and I can see films I didn't even know existed, which means I can bore the shit out of my friends when I see them next and they ask me what I've seen lately (something they seemed to have stopped doing lately--I wonder why). Believe, nothing stops a conversation quicker than telling someone you saw Thirst last week while they've seen District 9.
The Fairfax is a good second run, though it's also cheaper during the week. The main problem there is that they had only one movie I wanted to see, Funny People, but they're only showing it at night. Since this means I have to take the Fairfax bus home, I usually don't like to go during that late.
Which leaves five places to see the sort of films that really turn me on. The New Beverly; the UCLA Archive at the Hammer Museum; LACMA; The Silent Movie Theater; and the American Cinemateque. I always look at the American Cinemateque schedule first since it is only a few blocks away. But this weekend, they've rented out the place to Cinecom, an organization that shows rare to see films, which would normally interest me, except that you have to buy day passes or run of the fest pass, which is too expensive.
I've seen the movies at the New Beverly (which is usually the case). Both LACMA and UCLA Hammer weren't showing anything for the Labor Day Weekend. Which left the Silent Movie Theater. But this particular weekend they were only showing one film I was interested in seeing, Joseph Losey's The Criminal. But it was showing with Get Carter, which I had already seen. Plus it has the same problem of my having to take the bus back, which can be problematic at night.
So that was that. Nothing to see, so this weekend I'm doing Netflix and On Demand. This means Catch 22 and Divine Intervention as well as a French movie about a serial killer that dresses his victims like dolls, and the second season of Dexter. All in all, the weekend turned out just fine after all, except for the heat, but you can't have everything.

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