I saw a 1:50 showing of Flight on Saturday that was only $8, which qualifies as a minor miracle. Especially when you consider that it's a brand new theater, having opened in the last six months or so.
I always love checking out a new theater, and this was quite a pleasant introduction to the new Laemmle on Lankershim in North Hollywood. Not only did everything still have that new theater smell, but it was surprisingly uncrowded. I thought just the opposite would be the case, since everyone goes to the movies on the rare rainy Saturday in Los Angeles.
What's more, I discovered that this theater has midnight showings of Tommy Wiseau's The Room on the last Saturday of every month. I'm planting the seed among my friends about going this weekend, even if a movie that starts at midnight will majorly test our collective and individual staminas. (Staminae?)
The Laemmle chain in Los Angeles usually specializes in arthouse films, so I celebrate it all the more. Perhaps the $8 price for all weekend shows before 2 p.m. is a reflection of that indie philosophy.
I must admit, however, that the new North Hollywood Laemmle is a bit more my speed in terms of its offerings than the one that's just about equidistant from my house in Encino. While I would like to think that there's no movie that's too arthouse for me to see, I must also admit that my moviegoing dollars are precious to me. So just having heard a movie's title somewhere is not enough for me to plunk down even $8. (It's not only the cash, it's also the available time to see movies in the theater, period.) Encino's Laemmle is currently playing The Other Son, A Royal Affair, A Late Quartet, Cafe de Flore, The Flat, La Rafle and The Optimists. And though I've heard of the first four, and would certainly like to see some of these movies as proof to myself that I still have that adventuresome spirit for seeing all kinds of movies in the theater, well, Flight has a plane crash that absolutely must be seen on the big screen ... right? And with more than two weeks passing since it was released and a whole slew of Thanksgiving releases right around the corner, it was now or never.
And even though the Laemmle in North Hollywood is also playing Twilight and Skyfall (those titles sort of go together, don't they?), it props up its credibility with The Sessions, Up on Poppy Hill, Zarafa and The Painting. Not to mention the fact that it's currently hosting the Hungarian Film Festival. Who even knew there was such a thing?
If you've just opened a new arthouse theater and you don't want it to close as soon as it's opened, you have to straddle that line between the obscure and the mainstream. Besides, if playing Twilight is allowing me to pay only $8 for a matinee, I'm all for it.
One other detail I loved. Before the trailers started, a title card introducing them came on the screen with the following (paraphrased) text:
"Warning: The following trailers may contain BIG EXPLOSIONS, the BEST LINES and the ENTIRE PLOT. Watch at your own risk."
As for Flight? Well, Robert Zemeckis once again (after Cast Away) proves he can do a plane crash like nobody else. Even if you don't like the rest of the movie -- and I certainly did -- the opening 20 minutes are worth the price of admission. A couple pretty on-the-nose song choices aside, I found that the rest of the film was pretty rich with nuance ... and that Denzel Washington gave one of his most impressive performances in years. I guess an airline pilot with substance abuse problems is a pretty meaty role for any actor to sink his teeth into.
Now we'll just see if I can schedule a return visit for The Room this Saturday. Though I understand that even the $8 matinee price they will no longer be charging at midnight may be too much to pay for this particular film.