British Noir at the Nuart

This is not a post about Betty Blue, but this was the only shot of the Nuart I have. Forgive me French film fans.
This is not a post about Betty Blue, but this was the only shot of the Nuart I have. Forgive me French film fans.

Not to be outdone by the Hammer, the Nuart starts its own British noir series tomorrow. If you missed seeing The Third Man at the Hammer, you’re in luck. Thanks to the Nuart, you have another chance. It’s playing tomorrow and Saturday in a double feature with Brighton Rock, a Graham Greene thriller starring Richard Attenborough as a “psycho teenage gang leader.” 

Me, I’ll be hitting the Sunday double feature of Peeping Tom and It Always Rains on Sunday because I can’t resist a film described as “a masterpiece full of dread, raw with vulgarity.” Other films in the series include the Red Riding trilogy and The Fallen Idol (which screens in a double feature with The Third Man on the 10th).

And then, if that doesn’t already secure the Nuart as your favorite theater (with apologies to Kevin), they are screening the Oscar nominated short films beginning on the 19th of February. (The screening at the Academy is sold out.)

Thanks a Lot, Vista Theater. No, Really, I’m Not Being Sarcastic For Once. Thanks.

IMG_2054One of the things I love about living in Los Angeles is that people are generally pretty serious about going to the movies. I’m from the east coast, where moviegoers seem to perceive theaters as living rooms that happen not to be attached to their homes, and are thus happy to spend two hours texting, chatting on cell phones, changing diapers, making salads, and so on an so forth, instead of watching 13 Going on 30 or whatever. Here in LA, I can watch in peace, and I don’t have to spend any time wondering how long I should wait before telling the jackass  in the seat in front of me to stop playing Tetris on his phone.

Most of my contemporaries place the Arclight at the top of their list of favorite moviehouses — a respectable choice, to be sure — but I’ll take the Vista any day. Sitting on the hazy border of Los Feliz and Silverlake, the Vista only has one screen, but reserves that screen mostly for movies that demand to be seen in theaters — big popcorn movies and Oscar bait. Because every other row has been removed, the Vista has more legroom than any other theater. And of course the manager dresses up in full costume for every big opening. I’ve seen him as Wolverine and Jack Sparrow.

But this week the Vista went above and beyond the call of duty when my girlfriend and I stopped by for a 4:15 showing of Crazy Heart. Outside the theater was a small team of contractors and a large section of carpeting — the place was undergoing renovations, and we couldn’t get in. Crap.

But then a manager rushed — seriously, rushed — up to us with a book of free passes, signed one of them, and gave it to us with an apology. The renovations had gone past schedule, so the Vista had to cancel its 4:15 show. But in return, everyone who was turned away got free tickets, without having to ask or complain. By the time we got our passes, a small crowd had gathered, and the manager handed out passes to everyone; some could have simply been passersby who had no intention of going to the movies but who knew a good opportunity when they saw it. That’s a risk the Vista was willing to take. Oh, and the tickets were good for any showing of any movie, not just the next showing of Crazy Heart (which is the one we went to; Crazy Heart itself was good-not-great).

As the bumper sticker says: Shit happens. Sometimes problems crop up and customers can’t get what they want. But the Vista management was right on top of damage control yesterday, and clearly cared more about retaining customer loyalty than anything else. I can’t imagine this happening at an AMC or Pacific theater. Kudos, Vista.

Elvis Presley 75th Birthday Celebration Tonight

"Elvis" aka Greg Snyder of Wise Guys Events talks to KPCC's Shirley Jihad about the Elvis trivia game, bingo and more his company has planned for the Elvis event at the Egyptian on Sunday (photo courtesy of the Egyptian Theatre).
"Elvis" aka Greg Snyder of Wise Guys Events talks to KPCC's Shirley Jihad about the Elvis trivia game, bingo and more his company has planned for the Elvis event at the Egyptian on Sunday (photo courtesy of the Egyptian Theatre).

Celebrate Elvis’ 75th birthday this evening at the Egyptian Theatre in Hollywood. Beginning at 5:30 PM, the event will feature films, special guest Francine York, music and karaoke from Roarshack, the biggest Elvis Mix ‘n Mingle trivia game and bingo west of Memphis from Wise Guys Events (with Elvis-related prizes), food vendors including banana and peanut butter pancake bites from Buttermilk Truck, BBQ from BarbiesQ and birthday cake for the entire audience from La Morenita Bakery.

Of course, there will be Elvis merchandise for sale from Hollywood Book & Poster and prizes from Warner Bros., Bettie Page Clothing, Taschen Books (at the Grove), the Grammy Museum’s “Elvis at 21” exhibit and Hollywood Book & Poster. The Pig ‘n’ Whistle will also be hosting a “no-host” bar in the Egyptian’s courtyard. I have no idea what a “no-host” bar is, but it sounds like an open bar. They should offer an open bar. It is what Elvis would have wanted.

Then at 7:30 PM, the Elvis Presley Double Feature will begin featuring: Continue reading “Elvis Presley 75th Birthday Celebration Tonight”

Movies White People Like

mad menThe NYTimes has a super cool map of 100 Netflix rentals showing distribution by zip code in twelve cities, including LA. For those of us interested in how cultural taste intersects with and reinforces demographic and economic differences, clicking through the titles is pretty fascinating. There are some fairly obvious examples of stuff white people like, as in the Mad Men map pictured here (click to make it bigger). Lakeview Terrace, not so much. Other titles defy expectations (well, mine at least). It surprises and depresses me, for example, that Confessions of a Shopaholic seems to have universal appeal. And when you get tired of looking at the distribution pictures, you can get a healthy dose of snark by reading the blurbs about the films, which include, because it’s the New York Times, some solid LA mockery. They describe The Soloist thusly:

These are a few of the ghosts who haunt Los Angeles, that Mecca of Fabulousness where you can go for weeks (and invariably by car) without smelling the reek of other people’s desperation. That helps explain why Hollywood types tend not to set their camera sights on homeless men, women and children, unless they’re good for a little uplift (as in the Will Smith vehicle “The Pursuit of Happyness”). Homeless people are generally, pardon the pun, bummers–they also can’t afford tickets.

City rivalry aside, this is really nifty. If you’re anything of a map geek or a movie geek, check it out.

(Thanks to Google Maps Mania for the link.)

Last Remaining Seats announces its 2010 lineup

Orpheum-LRSL.A. Conservancy has announced their new season of Last Remaining Seats, their annual series of classic films and live entertainment in historic theatres. Tickets go on sale to Conservancy members on March 31 and the general public on April 14, but you should mark your calendars now with the following films and venues:

This is where you should be on Wednesday nights at 8pm:
May 26: How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying (1967) at Los Angeles Theatre
June 2: Strangers on a Train (1951) at Million Dollar Theatre
June 9: American Graffiti (1973) at Orpheum Theatre
June 16: The Graduate (1967) at Los Angeles Theatre
June 23: Flor silvestre (Wild Flower) (1943) — co-presented by the Latin American Cinemateca of Los Angeles at Million Dollar Theatre
June 30: Peter Pan (1924) at Orpheum Theatre

Advance tickets are $16 each for Conservancy members and $20 each for the general public. A limited number of series tickets are available, and discounts are available for groups of ten or more.

Weekly Movies at Betalevel: Bollywood Week!

pyaasaThese Thursday movie nights have been going on a while at Betalevel, the brainy underground (literally) hive of geeky art & tech activity that spun off from Chinatown’s C-Level (from whose loins also sprang Machine Project). Don’t know what the hell I’m talking about? Click those links & give yourself a pat on the back for being a good culture student: this loose collective of mad-skillz geeks have hosted hackathons, circuitbending music-making (that’s where you screw with noisemaking children’s toys until they make fantastic sounds; the best I ever saw was a keytar made from a Speak-n-Spell); live Tetris competitions projected in vast scale along walls, with competitors in bizarre costumes…etc, ad infinitum.

Every Thursday, this basement-level art-space/gallery/file-sharing meatspace/technogeekery HQ/poetry-reading hall/whathaveyou screens a film: 1st Thursdays of the month are Bollywood Night, 2nd Thursdays are Zombie Night, 3rd Thursdays are Keanu Night, 4th Thursdays are the intriguing Weimar Night and 5th Thursdays, when they occur, are Miscellaneous Night. The room isn’t huge, so there’s a warm, convivial atmosphere you usually only find in restaurants where everyone has to sit at long shared tables and is forced to interact.

Tomorrow, Bollywood Night features the noirish black-and-white “Pyaasa,” with a narrative that could have inspired Moulin Rouge: Vijay, a poet, is unemployed, broke, and can’t get published.  His family lambasts him. The husband of his former girlfriend steals Vijay’s writing and commits him to a mental institution. “Vijay takes to drink, gets in trouble with the law, ends up in a brothel. There he meets a prostitute who wants to help him get the recognition he deserves.” It just all sounds fantastic.

For the amazing directions to Betalevel, click here.

No rage infected monkys here!

Shaun of the Dead opens today at the Arclight! I’m sure everyone I know is sick of me raving about this movie but last week I saw a preview at the Arclight and the Director was there for a brief Q&A and all I can say is that this movie is FUCKING GENIUS! I heartily recommend everyone gets off their collective asses go see it immediately. After-all it’s a love story!