Thursday, June 16, 2005

Don't Think Twice, It's Arclight

I did a silly thing this week, dear readers. First, I went to see Batman Begins at midnight on Tuesday, before waking up early to open the video store on Wednesday. Then, on Wednesday, right after work, I went to see the full 4 hour version of Lawrence of Arabia. So, on very little sleep, and after a full day on my feet helping confused, belligerant assholes conduct the seemingly straight-forward task of renting a DVD, I embarked on a journey across Los Angeles to screen a 4 hour film I had already seen in a crowded movie theater. I managed to stay awake for the entire movie, but by the end I'll admit to a state of near-delirium. I felt how Brittany Murphy must feel all day every day.

I hate Hollywood's Arclight Theater. Hate it. I like to see movies at the Cinerama Dome, now regrettably located within the Arclight Theater Complex, but I still hate the theater as a whole. My hatred of it was formerly based solely on its parking structure, which features the absolute worst design imaginable. It's impossible to get out of the Arclight Theater in a timely fashion. It actually makes the freeway you'll take home seem clear and expedient by comparison.

The reason why is that several lanes of traffic on several different levels of the structure all must merge down to a single lane, before breaking off again to pay the exhorbitant fees at the exit. So, let's say you have 20 people who parked in the same general area, and all went to go see the same movie. (Let's say, hypothetically, they went to see Madagascar, because they are, hypothetically, idiots.) Now, they must drive down the ramp one at a time, slowly, being sure to pause frequently to merge with other traffic from other levels, before splitting up again into several lanes right at the bottom.

Who designed this system? I think it must be the same guy who designed the queue areas at Disneyland, where you double back so many times, you occasionally pass by an alternate-dimension form of yourself waiting in line. I've explained to one of their various friendly costumed employees that this could interrupt the space-time continuum, creating a paradox that could destroy the entire universe...but do they listen? No. They're too busy instilling a magical sense of childlike wonder and charging $20 a pop for stale churros.

So, long story long, I went to the Arclight last night to watch Lawrence of Arabia on a big screen, as part of the AFI Festival, and was disappointed on a number of levels. Here are my complaints:

(1) The print of Lawrence shown was 35 mm, whereas the film was initially shot in 70 mm. I theorized that, out of all the screens at the Arclight, possibly only the Cinerama Dome screen is large enough to accomodate a 70 mm sized reel (which is, of course, double the size of a normal film...try to keep up...) Unfortunately, AFI could only get access to a side theater, so we had to watch a condensed version of Lawrence, which kind of defeats the purpose of paying $10 to watch it on a big screen. I mean, I do, after all, work in a video store, where I am free to rent Lawrence of Arabia and watch a resized version any time I choose.

(2) Because theaters tend to show 70 mm prints when they bother to revive Lawrence of Arabia, the 35 mm print that was available was old and full of defects. The audio had so many snaps, crackles and pops, you'd think the concession stand had replaced all the Goobers with Rice Krispies.

[Is that an incredibly cheesy joke, or is it working for any of you? I wrote that, and then deleted it, and then wrote it again, and repeated that process a few times over...Now that I'm re-reading it, it's almost embarrassingly stupid and I want to erase it again, but I guess I'll leave it now that I've bothered to write this entire little meta-blog conceptual post-modern bracket paragraph questioning its amusement level of effectiveness.]

(3) The woman introducing the film said that TE Lawrence ranked on AFI's 100 Heroes list at #10. Is AFI going to have a bullshit list about every single facet of moviedom now? The Top 100 Nude Scenes would be one I'd like to see them cobble together...I want to know if whoever at AFI writes these insipid Top 100's thinks Demi Moore's topless work in Blame It On Rio outshines Annette O'Toole's infamous locker room sequence in Cat People. I say, no.

What about the Top 100 Movies Where Liam Neeson Plays an Older Guy Mentoring a Younger Guy? You could even go 200 on that one. Or the Top 100 Squintiest Actors? (Clint Eastwood or Steven Seagal...who will take home the prize?)

Or the Top 100 Movies Where a Character Makes a Verbal Wish to Become a Bird So They Can "Just Fly Away From Here"? Or the Top 100 Vomit Scenes! That would be a great one. I nominate Benicio del Toro for his work in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas and Gary the Puppet from Team America: World Police, for starters. Also, that guy at the end of In the Company of Men, and fat suit-clad Terry Jones in Monty Python and the Meaning of Life.

(4) The fat lady next to me in the theater used this really strong-scented hand lotion. I think it smelled like berries, but it could have been some vanilla extract thing. Or, you know, maybe she was smearing fruit-filled yogurt all over her arms, in case she wanted a snack later and didn't feel like reaching into her bag again. Anyway, it stunk, and almost made me light-headed at one point. And she kept putting more on! It's like, "Lady, your arm still freakin' smells like potpurri ice cream from the last go-round...what say you give me 10 minutes or so to clear out my sinuses before globbing half the yearly output of Crabtree & Evelyn on your puerile, moisture-rich flesh, hmmm?"

I realize there's nothing the Arclight Theater could specifically do about that, save enacting some harsh anti-lotion policy, but this seemed as appropriate a place as any to vent about it.

(5) When you validate your parking ticket at the Arclight, you get 4 hours for free. Which normally would be fine, unless you happen to see a desert-set epic with a total running time of 3 hours and 42 minutes. Now, when you include an overture and intermission, as well as time to get to the theater, get your ticket, get concessions and wait for the movie to start, that busts the 4 hour time limit. When you add in 20 minutes of extra "wait time" in your car because the Arclight Theater parking lot was designed by B.F. Skinner's evil twin M.F., it means paying $4 for the privilege of parking at a movie theater.


I'd review Lawrence of Arabia...but you know the deal, right? Long, large-scale, in the desert, camel noises, Peter O'Toole in one of the greatest screen performances ever, Anthony Quinn, Alec Guinness as an Arab guy, moustaches...I figure my readers have either seen it, or already skipped past this review due to total lack of interest. They're probably already checking out this guy's blog. He is so cool...

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