Thursday, April 10, 2008

Cinefamily vs. The Steve Allen Theater

L.A.'s excellent repertory and specialty moviegoing opportunities are approaching supernova status. We've had the Egyptian Theatre, LACMA, UCLA and the New Beverly for quite a while, and not too long ago, the American Cinematheque expanded from the Egyptian by adding the Aero Theatre on the West side. But now Cinefamily has come into existence at the Silent Movie Theatre, with a full slate of programming equal in volume and perhaps even exceeding (at least in these early months) in imagination to the Egyptian. Having been at my share of sparsely attended esoteric screenings, can the city really absorb and keep afloat this many amazing screening venues?

With my head nearly ready to explode already, I then noticed signs at my local coffee shop advertising a fairly aggressive slate of films at... The Steve Allen Theater. Yet another repertory film venue in L.A.?!? I can't believe it. I am not certain they are attempting to become a regular screening venue, but it seems like it, since they have a "Mystery Movies" program every Sunday at 9:00 p.m. for just five bucks.

The other indication, and the highlight for me, is their upcoming "Cronenberg Retrospective", which starts this Saturday April 12 at 8:00 p.m with a 20th anniversary screening of the essential Dead Ringers (1988). And it's free admission! (The rest of the series is eight bucks a pop.) Here's the rest of the schedule:

April 19 - Scanners
April 26 - Videodrome
May 3 - The Fly
May 10 - Naked Lunch
May 17 - Crash
May 24 - Existenz
May 31 - Spider (closing night) with the American premiere of his latest short film "At the suicide of the last Jew in the world in the last cinema in the world." (It's actually his segment from the multi-director film you'll find at the link.)

In any case, back to the real behemoth on the scene, the Cinefamily. If you didn't already know, in addition to the traditional single tickets available for any show, you can alternatively buy a membership for just $25 a month, which entitles you to attend unlimited screenings. With the regular price being $10 a show, you only have to see three films in a month and your membership has paid for itself. But with their extremely aggressive and amazing screening schedule (there are a lot of separate admission double features you could sit through), you could put your mind to it and easily see 10 or, heck, even 20 films in a month—a $200 value!! And what's more, there are often surprises in store. I went to see Dennis Hopper's The Last Movie, and Dennis Hopper attended, holding an impromptu Q&A after.

I also commend them for maintaining a highly committed silent film slate as well, given the historic venue. They've been doing Russian silents recently, and this weekend they are hosting the world premiere digital restoration of Abel Gance's almost five-hour La Roue (1923), a film which I'd only seen in a two-hour very rough VHS version. So, if you live anywhere close to the Silent Movie Theatre, you really have no excuse but to pony up $25 and at least try it for one month and gorge yourself on the awesome cinema there. The only thing that gives me pause is, with such an outstanding slate of film offerings all over the city (e.g., the Egyptian is just starting its reliably entertaining 10th Annual Festival of Film Noir!!), how can one commit to only a single L.A. theater?!

In all this excitement, don't forget the Dante's Inferno festival at the New Beverly Cinema, where film director Joe Dante is programming the theater with his favorites for a special run, with several significant in-person appearances. (Thanks to Dennis at Sergio Leone and the Infield Fly Rule for making me aware of this in his post here.)

Basically, I'm saying it's all amazing, and you must go see everything. Sorry, there are no excuses. The filmgoing opportunities here in L.A. have always been outstanding the whole 10 years I've lived here, but they have now reached a fever pitch level that we may never see the like of again. As always, check my sidebar of L.A. Film Calendars to plan your week's moviegoing schedule for maximum participation and enjoyment.


Dennis Cozzalio said...

This Cronenberg festival really sounds great. What a way to initiate yet another great venue in L.A.! I shamefully never took advantage of all the great screening opportunities there have been here in the city until, really, about two years ago. But I agree, it feels like there's some kind of cosmic confluence going on now, dedicated to reviving, if you will, the revival experience here in L.A. Without firsthand knowledge to back me up, of course, I'd wager that what we've got going on in this city now could rival anything available in New York or any other major metropolitan area where film still should be a vital scene. Thanks for all the heads-up, and the links, E.A., and for the keen blog too.

Editor A said...

I figured the Cronenberg would be up your alley.

I wasn't in New York long enough to make a fair comparison, but my impression is (which is from the '90s, however) that there is far more going on here. Boston, for me, was the closest thing (with the Harvard Film Archive, The Brattle Theatre, The Coolidge), but it is a far cry from what we have.

Plus there are many ancillary venues I haven't mentioned, like the Arclight or the Alex Theatre, that have specialty screenings. Or even the DGA, which right now has the COLCOA film festival going on. Oh, sheesh, now my head has exploded.

I only wonder if London has us beat, because The Bioscope is always posting the truly amazing silent film programs they have going on there. But in the U.S., it feels like L.A. is the place for repetory/revival.

Cat said...

I haven't been to the Steve Allen Theatre in a while but I love the line up they've got going. It's a fun intimate place to see a movie. I was there probably two years ago when I saw Re-Animator and Jeffery Combs was there and I got to meet him.

Things really are at a fever pitch for any cinfile fan out there in Los Angeles. I'm riding the wave and just hope it keeps on going.

Right now The New Bev is my favorite but its going to be tough to choose screenings this summer with so many awesome events filling up my calendar.

P.S. thanks for visiting my blog! I really dig yours! :)