Question of the Week: Your Best Movie Going Experience?

Picture%2017.pngOver at LinkedIn, which is sort of a MySpace for “professionals”, they have a Q&A section where folks like Jason Calacanis can ask members to help him find his next hire, or where marketing advice is frequently solicited. For people who use Ask Metafilter, this is pretty much the same idea, but you can refer to a user’s professional background when they offer an answer…

In spite of the hype, sometimes fun questions break thru, like this one:

What Is the Best Cinema Experience You’ve Ever Attended?

I like it enough I’ve stolen it for my question of the week.

For me, its hard to pick just one. But the one that stands out was a midnight opening for Independence Day at the Mann’s Village in Westwood. The theatre remains possibly the greatest single screen I’ve ever been to, in part because they frequently showcase popcorn movies, but mostly because management takes pride in the film presentation and having loud, well balanced sound.

For the ID4 opening, I’d waited in line for hours with friends and a crowd that wrapped around the block, discussing movies and geeking out. Once inside, the vibe was energetic verging on mayhem. The audience roared into a frenzy when the lights finally dimmed, but settled quickly as the first trailer came up… a trailer for the re-release of Star Wars.

The crowd went INSANE. It didn’t matter that most of us were aware that Episode IV was returning to theatres. But the existence of the trailer took us by surprise. (Rumor also went that Fox Executives were planning on a very small roll out of the re-release, just to hype the new video release… but when they heard the crowd response in the theatre that night, they aimed much larger)

The ridiculous high of that two minute trailer stuck with us the rest of the evening as we cheered along during Independence Day with a fervor that I can’t recall ever experiencing again. Better movies have come along since ID4 (probably within a week, to be honest), so its a little insane that the combination of a teaser trailer, and a great crowd, made for the greatest movie experience of my life.

And yours?

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4 Replies to “Question of the Week: Your Best Movie Going Experience?”

  1. Great question!!!! Here is my answer(s). More like my short list. It’s not really about geeking out. Which, I suppose I should try sometime (HA HA!!) but more about the unpredictable external stimuli at these dang theatre venues.

    The scene: 8MM (crappy Nic Cage flick) at the what I think to be the now defunct Beverly Connection cinema back in 1999. As I wait in line to buy my ticket, I notice that Andy Dick and his cute gal pal are ahead of me. At that time, I hadn’t come to appreciate the humor of Mr. Dick and was just a little jealous of his fine companion. Fast forward to the movie: We are, IDK half way through 8MM and someone down front starts making loud noises, grunts and incoherent ramblings. It keeps getting louder. People begin to shush him. No avail. This guy keeps it up. It’s totally disrupting the film. The guy is out of control. And loud. People start to yell, “Hey!!” “Shut up!!” I’m digging the scene. He pays no attention and keeps getting more raucous. Ithink that this must be Andy Dick’s way to get attention on himself and ponder any possible retalitory measures. A guy in my general vicinity yells for the culprit to raise his hand, apparently so he can run down and smack him.
    At least one person has run to get management. People are laughing because for the most part the movie experience has crumbled and has turned into of a brouhaha. Finally a little funny looking old homeless man stands up and shuffles up and out the aisles with all eyes upon him. Andy Dick went home face intact and I went home alone.

    The scene: Dangerous Game (1993) Beverly Center Theatre. There is one I bet you didn’t see…. Ha Ha!!! This featured Madonna, Harvel Keitel and the crimally underrated James Russo. Directed by the one and only Abel Ferrara. Similar to the 8MM experience. In short, someone got catty and for a few brief minutes that seemed like an afternoon, people shushed eachother and told others to F off in one of the smallest screening rooms I have ever sat in. I really thought a few grown ups(?) were going to start pulling eachothers hair out for a minute. It was so uncomfortable and weird. Probably some feel that way about Dangerous Game too.

    The scene: Century City AMC. The movie—for the life of me don’t remember. But it was one of those anticpated films that had the house packed. Some guy apparently brought in a soda from the food court or elsewhere and muscled his way past the ticket taker. They alerted an usher to chase him into the room and down the aisle to relinquish his flavored water. He wasn’t having it. Stood and argued his ground. Everybody is watching. It gets escalted to a manager. The guy is in disbelief. He’s making quite a scene. I’m in my seat with a cutey and we are watching this unfold just to our right. The lights are still on and others are scrambling for the few remaining seats. He expresses that he paid for his drink, he’s almost finished and that this never happens in Canada. They get security to escort him out. He bellows,”I’m film producer!!!!!” The entire theatre howls with laughter and the person with the guy saunters out beet red.

    But my BEST experience?? Oh man. I had just watched Heat w/Robert Deniro & Al Pacino at the Bevely Connection. I was making my way down the stairs in attempt to locate bathrooms. The upstairs bathrooms were too crowded and I decided that marching down was the ticket to immediate relief. I start my descent. I notice an extremely attractive thirty something blonde woman in mini skirt waiting by the side of the railing. As I progress down the steps I actually find myslef directly below her. She is quite stunning and I manage to keep my eyes on her and navigate the steps. Clapping however…totally out of my realm. Next thing you know, I am directly below her and, and…I got a full view. She’s going Britney. I saw the whole thing. Funny to me how it’s everywhere these days. On the net, in magazines, etc etc.. But on that evening in 1995, I got the biggest smile to myself. I didn’t fee like a perv. I didn’t go looking for it. It just happened. She was beautiful. I saw her naked beauty and I liked it. The movie was great, that was great. I was on cloud 9. Of course, the lesson here; when given a choice, take the stairs!!!!!!

  2. Ok, this one will sound bizarre. It is not a manly, action filled blaster flick. It is not a movie featuring a retired bodybuilder or a retired football player. It is a movie featuring a goofball musical personality who has had more “comebacks” than Mike Tyson.

    And… it wasn’t even the movie, though I thoroughly enjoyed the flick. It was because of the girl I took to that movie. The movie set the stage perfectly… for us to make our own sequel. The best sequel in the world. She was a hot Latin girl and I was a young man about to find out how much I didn’t know about the things I thought I knew.

    It was twenty years ago, in a little theatre with a cheesy sound system in Pasadena. I don’t remember the decor, the restrooms, the popcorn or all that much about the move, for that matter.

    I remember the girl. She became the love of my life until I sadly lost her to a car accident two years later.

    The movie was “Moonstruck”.

    The girl will live forever in my heart.

    What a cool question, David.

  3. When I lived in Palmdale (not on purpose, my parents moved there during the mass 90’s migration) I intentionally went to the dollar theater to see Jackie Brown and it was GREAT.

    The only time I went to movie with an audience as enraptured in a film, as appropriately vocal and just there to have a great time was at the Episode IV screening at Mann’s.

    As far as fun, disruptive times in the theater (the old dollar theater was GREAT for those, but it’s so expected that those times don’t count), the most recent was Babel at a theater in Marina Del Ray… During the movie, at any point when the deaf, Japaneses girl character would appear on screen, I’d hear a few odd bellows and grunts, spread out among the theater, followed by hushed shushing, presumably by whoever was sitting directly next to the individuals causing the racket. The pattern repeated itself over the course of the movie; deaf girls shows up, warbles and grunts echo throughout the theater, like frogs in a swamp, followed by low, nearby shushing.

    It wasn’t until about halfway through that I realized I was seeing the movie with loads of young deaf people. They attended either with friends or handlers who were doing the shushing as the deaf folk cavorted and blathered excitedly anytime the deaf girl stumbled her way through her fictitious, movie life.

    Except for the shushing, It was a lot like the Jackie Brown screening, actually.

  4. “Independence Day” in the big theater at the old ABC complex in Century City. Afternoon show, and I had the whole place to myself. I sat dead center and had a fine, fine time!

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