Sunday, August 23, 2009


Mark Olsen has a good overview of the Los Angeles repertory scene and what will be left if the Los Angeles County Museum of Art carries through on its intent to put the film exhibition program on "hiatus." The piece is entitled "Plenty Remains in L.A. Repertory", published in this morning's (Sunday, August 23) Calendar section of the Los Angeles Times and available, for out-of-town non-subscribers at this link. Despite the grim notion of that resource disappearing from the landscape of the city most closely associated with the business (and even the art) of the movies, and the real fear that a generation is in the process of losing the desire and ability to watch classic and international cinema, the piece captures a sense of optimism built around what would remain. It is a major loss that coincides with a relative bounty, one which Hadrian Belove of the Cinefamily describes (correctly, I think) as "a renaissance in repertory cinema." Belove goes on to say that "People are are excited about films in L.A. and are learning how to (become regular patrons of the repertory scene)... I'm sensing people want to go out more, and they're finding ways to do it." Olsen even interviewed Yours Truly for the article, so if you don't mind me invading your morning coffee and newspaper reading time you should check out Olsen's piece, which includes a guide (handy for clipping out) to the major venues in Los Angeles repertory cinema that will sally forth, in the presence or absence of the vital contributions of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.



Moviezzz said...

Interesting article, although for me, it is sort of like a starving person reading about the state of gourmet restaurants.

In my area, it is all multiplexes. The few arthouses we have should be condemned both for the quality of the theatres and the poor projection and sound. I normally wait for DVD.

To read about the theatres in LA is like reading about another world. Classics on the big screen? It sounds too good to be true!

Jandy said...

This is interesting, because I moved out to LA in part because of the availability of repertory cinema, but LACMA wasn't even in my head. I've never been there, and I keep even forgetting that they do a film series. I go to Cinefamily, Cinematheque, and New Beverly showings regularly, though.

I'm a bit hesitant about going to museum film series due to experiences in St. Louis and Houston - obviously I don't know if it's the same at LACMA, but I used to find them very dry, academic things. No concessions, dull audiences, sterile screening room - is LACMA better than that?

Dennis Cozzalio said...

Well, Jandy, there are no concessions-- you have to eat whatever it is you're gonna eat outside at the museum cafe (which ain't bad) or sneak something in via purse or backpack. And too much chip bag rattling might get you a dirty look.

It is a museum, so the audiences can be on the "dull" side, but I read that more as respectful. No hooting or talking back to the screen here, at least in my experience. But audiences do get into the spirit of the movie-- Dressed to Kill and Carrie were memorable in that way here.

As for the auditorium, it's big and impressive, on par with the best single screens in town. It's not the most dazzling technical presentation, but then again, 99% of the movies shown there are not state-of-the-art technically oriented. All in all, it's a beautiful venue and an vital one, and as much as the fate of one venue reflects the health of them all, assuring that the program does not go away really is of great importance to film culture in this city..

Jandy said...

Dennis, thanks for the response. I'll try to remember to check out their schedule (I found out about the French noir series they did just AFTER if finished).

And yes, I see your point about being respectful, and I much prefer a respectful audience to an overly rowdy one, but half the fun for me at the Silent Movie Theatre is the energy from the audience - always ready to laugh vociferously when it's funny, gasp when it's scary or surprising, applaud at the end, chat with each other, the programmers, or strangers during intermissions, etc.

I'm guessing just because of the cinephile culture in LA, LACMA probably has some of this as well, but the film I saw in at the museum in Houston. Wow. Everybody was totally silent until it started, never reacted at all, and filed out silently after it was over. Like it had all been a required class assignment. I felt like if I laughed, some usher was gonna come shush me. I didn't even like the film then because the experience was so bland (when I saw it again on DVD later, I liked it a lot better, which is the opposite of my normal cinema vs. DVD experience).

Dennis Cozzalio said...

Yep, your distinction is a good one, Jandy, and I realized while reading it that "respectful" can be kinda boring too. I love the energy you get from the kind of audience you describe at the Silent Movie Theater, and one of my favorite moviegoing experiences came earlier this year when I took my daughter to see Duck Soup at the New Beverly. The audience was so much a part of why that experience was a great one.

The kind of audience I generally hate being in (apart from the rude, unruly ones) are the ones you occasionally get in revival theaters where you know from the loud reactions that people are there to make sure you (meaning everyone else) knows they "get" what's going on, whether it's a inside reference or the tone of the movie or whatever, from constant applause, loud comments or whatever. It doesn't seem to happen as often to me anymore-- I'm more likely to just get with the general vibe or find my own entryway into the movie, or maybe I've just become one of those smart-asses myself! And you're right, the interaction with people in the lobby and outside too is what's really special about these venues.

Dennis Cozzalio said...

Jandy, there's a nice pic here (down at the bottom of the post) of what the Bing at LACMA looks like on the inside.

Jandy said...

Yeah, that kind of audience is really annoying. I've been around those people, too, even at Silent Movie Theatre, but usually it's just like one guy. Most of the time it seems to be people who just genuinely love film and appreciate the opportunity to see it in the sort of atmosphere where it was originally intended to be seen.

Thanks for the link - that's a really nice-looking screening room. I'll definitely keep an eye on the schedule.

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