Tuesday, July 4, 2017

A Love Letter

DISCLAIMER - My blog is an attempt to show respect to films some small minded, intellectually dishonest hipsters automatically label "bad". There is no film I discuss here that I believe to be bad at all.  The title of the blog comes from a discussion that took place some years ago when I was trying to explain the appeal of these films. The title is not meant to suggest I think these films are bad in the least.  Remember - ART IS ART!

I've lived in Southern California a long time. I've lived here this long because I work here.  And, as would be the case no matter where you live, sometimes work precludes you doing all the things you'd like to.  For some time now, I've been meaning to see more of the Los Angeles area since, if traffic behaves, it is really just a short drive up the freeway. Last weekend, the planets aligned and a most amazing thing happened - I had the opportunity to see one of my favorite films (The Last Starfighter in 35mm) somewhere I could easily see myself calling my home away from home - New Beverly Cinema.

Few film houses have the amazing history of The New Bev.  Originally a candy store, a night club and even a porno theater (which must have been odd in an area of synagogues in the mostly Jewish neighborhood). In 2007, Quentin Tarantino curated a month's worth of films which began his involvement with the theater.  He now owns the venue and surrounding property and continues to schedule the films (many from his own collection).

Those of you who know me, also know I don't always drink the Tarantino Kool-Aid.  Is the guy talented - absolutely.  But so is Fred Olen Ray.  However, one thing I have always supported about Tarantino is there are few greater film lovers or historians than he.  His voluminous knowledge of Grindhouse cinema knows no equal (although David Del Valle is certainly in the running).  And what QT has done with the New Bev is a bold and shining example of his love for film. Few artists of his caliber put their money where their mouth is to the degree Tarantino has.

What I've written does not do this venue justice - check out its history here and their website here.

This leads me to The Last Starfighter.

I'm batshit crazy happy to no longer live in the Midwest.  Spending my weekends checking for ticks and drinking Naty Ice is (no longer) my idea of a good time.  I spent way too much time pretending to like things I didn't care about to impress people I shouldn't have been around because that is just what you do in the Midwest.  Endless hours of trying to impress "the cool kids".  Now, I can like what I like without apology..and generally can find a gathering or convention of like minded people on any given weekend. That said, I don't mean to suggest I hated everything that happened two time zones away and 30 years ago.  Thanks mostly to my Dad, I managed to rack up an endless number of great memories - The Last Starfighter is one of them.  One evening in the summer of '84 Pops noticed they were doing a sneak preview of The Last Starfighter, so, as he was wont to do, he knocked on my bedroom door and informed me that we were going to the movies....and what a movie.  I loved the movie almost immediately as I could entirely relate to the plight of Alex Rogan (Lance Guest).  I loved the movie so much, that a week later I took a date to see the film in Malden or Dexter (can't remember) and she didn't care for me or the movie much...and I didn't even give a shit.  I was just happy to have seen the movie again.

For as long as I can remember I have had the poster for that film hanging on a wall whenever possible (there was some time in a couple of small apartments when it was sadly relegated to a closet).

And seeing the film again, with a crowd of people who loved the film every bit as much as I do was one of the greatest experiences of my life.  No shame to be had at the heartfelt applause at all the right moments

"We're locked into the moon's gravitational pull - what do we do?"

"We die."

And the theater erupted and goosebumps were had.

I can't say enough about what Tarantino has done with New Beverly Cinema...and I can't write enough to tell you not only how amazing The Last Starfighter is...but how amazing it was to see it with that crowd of people.  Sometimes you get a slight glimpse of Heaven...sometimes its called The New Beverly Cinema.

Miss you Pops.