Cinema Summer Camp

There is something so refreshing about a town that still lets me enjoy Summer Camp as an adult.

OK, fine. So it’s not summer camp.
But it certainly has felt like it. Tonight I get to go see 2001: A Space Odyssey on the big screen in 70mm. I will freely admit that I’ve tried to watch the film before and never fully gotten into it.
I’ve had several “Kubrick” conversations and found that, while I actually really do enjoy his work (I thought that I only enjoyed the early bits, silly me) I have a rough time with this particular film. However, what I get to do tonight is experience it the way that it is supposed to be seen: up-close and personal, with the best projection and best sound in this goddamn city.
I am a Los Angeles native and a film archivist/preservationist in training, so I am very aware that the experience that I will have tonight will be like none other. Therefore, if I do not enjoy or at least appreciate the vision that Mr. Kubrick placed upon the screen, I think there might be something wrong with me. My stance: I don’t have to like the film at home. Most films were not made to be watched at home. Television was made to be watched at home, not film. I learned this when I watched All About Eve (Joseph L. Mankiewicz, 1950) at the New Beverly a few years ago. I sat there in awe as it unleashed magic before my eyes in a way that the small-screen version never had. I use that film as an example because a) it was the first one that ever “wowed” me on the big screen when I compared it to my experience on the small screen and b) I realized that it “wowed” me even though it did not possess even one “special” cinematographic shot. There was no Jimmy Wong Howe-ness, no Gregg Toland to give it visual credence (not that it wasn’t visually stimulating or gorgeous, it just was shot in a fairly standard manner). It was a simple film. But it looked better on a big screen.
It also played better with an audience.
This is what I mean by summer camp.
We’ve been having great weather and many people I know have been off to the beaches, BBQs, and vacations. Their Facebook photos tell me that they’ve been having a great time! But…I’ve been having a great time at Cinema Camp. In the dark. In my seat. Giggling, crying, jaw-dropping, sharply intaking my breath at key moments…
I have seen IB Tech prints. I saw a film called Fear is the Key (Michael Tuchner, 1972) that blew my skull apart. I’m pretty sure I left pieces of it in the back of the New Beverly theater. Apologies to anyone who finds those shards…
I saw Sleeping Beauty in 70mm and, while I think Disney is ok, I cried at how gorgeous it was. And yet I was struck with child-like wonder at the colors and the story-telling devices and the animation and art. In my mid-30’s, a fan of punk rock, experimental weirdness and all kinds of “alternate” things, I was, all at once, the little girl that I probably had never been. It was pretty phenomenal.
This is summer camp.
And now summer camp is heading around the bend. Now we’re heading into what we used to call (when I was a counselor) the third session. Third session was always the most melancholy and kind sweet. We all knew we had to go home soon, so we were holding fast to the friends that we had made all summer and man were we pretending that the end was never going to arrive.
I make my confession to you: I have 3rd session syndrome. And it was only made worse when I saw that the New Beverly was pairing up with Ain’t it Cool and Peyton Reed to put on a Summer of ’82 fest like the Alamo Drafthouse.
Sorry, but I’ve only seen Poltergeist (Tobe Hooper, 1982) once in my life and that was ages ago, so…color me excited.
Not only that, but this Wednesday night I will be sitting in that theater like a cinema champ, ready to watch Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid (Carl Reiner, 1982) and Night Shift (Ron Howard, 1982). As a Film Noir junkie, Dead Men is, likely, one of my very favorite films. It’s my bacon, my ice cream, my “having a bad day? Steve Martin will solve your problems with black and white comedy” film. I had a friend in college who I used to go around quoting, “Your pa-yamas! Your pa-yamas!” at random moments. Don’t know what I’m talking about? Oh, please come on Wednesday. It’s showing Thursday as well, but Wednesday is the night when they’re doing the intro and who doesn’t like a good intro?
The other films showing? Oh, I dunno, The Thing (one of the few perfect films, in my estimation), Star Trek II (Khaaaaaan!!!). Oh yeah.
So, whaddya say? Come to camp with me? Y’know, the food isn’t bad, the guys and gals are pretty hot, and it’s always a good time.
When is the next time you’re going to get to see these films in 35mm? With an excited and enthusiastic film-loving audience like that of the New Beverly?
So, you may have seen some of these films already, but the question is, but what format was it on? If you have only ever viewed John Carpenter’s The Thing at home, you’ve never really experienced it. It’s like the difference between a microwave Chicken Piccata and one that was freshly made by a master chef. Sure, they have the same basic shape but…are they the same? I will leave that up to you. As for me, I’m heading back to the mess hall and the cabins.
Cinema Summer Camp is fun.