I’m finally back at the Film Forum, watching porn. Not necessary. But I can also be: “written” in a dull, fully toned bodyLa piscine”, The 1969 French erotic thriller taunts us from the screen. The stars, Ellen Delon, Romy Schneider and Jane Birkin, are impossibly beautiful and shirtless. Party guests meet together, making their way to bad decisions. Molestation is criminal.
Among the audience, we remain reasonably stable at a safe distance. There are 25 of us, tops. A participant covers his face a few inches down, such as to capture the tanning lotion and the sultry music of Michele Legrand. The audience around him is tense. An usher is called upon to carefully ask for compliance. She lifts her mask, but the employee pauses for a moment, making sure it sticks. (This is far better than what happened at Federico Fellini’s afternoon screening of “La Strada,” when an advance mood was threatened to drown out in fury by flaring at snacks for smuggling.)
As always, films are showing us a reality that is out of reach. That gap seems to be particularly wide right now, like New York art houses and multiplexes reopen, Shaklee, and CDC loosen safety guidelines, a development that has only added friction. The experience of coming back is not the same, at least not yet. Bathrooms are impeccable to a scary degree. The mild aroma of popcorn butter – the strangely relaxing aroma of Hollywood – has not returned yet. Concessions are not available in many theaters. The secluded lobby and empty escalators add to the overwhelming zombie-mall strangeness of all this.
What did I expect to find? Can you feel a phantom FOMO for something that is not even happening? Before the epidemic, I went to live in films, never realizing how important it was to go. During the lockdown, the movies tracked me down (fairly) via a streaming link, when that was the only option. Sometimes it seemed like it was pretending. For over a year, I have been desperate to return the favor and have now embarked on a fact-finding mission across the city, such as Martin Sheen heading upstairs in “Apocalypse Now”. Hope you have forgotten how it ends.
Only those with complete immunization can see it. This is certainly not the case. After waiting a suggested two weeks from my second Modern Shot in late March (a dull day that felt like a system reboot), I rejoined the filmmakers’ company. It vaguely felt as if you were getting away with something you knew you shouldn’t do.
no apologies. The excitement of coming back, though full of free-floating nervousness, cannot be understated. I drank Andrei Tarkovsky’s elliptical 1975 art film “Mirror” Like so many vodka flights, every mysterious wind gust and fluid interlude froze my synapse. Strangely, the audience at my little Elinor Bunin Munro Film Center welcomed the end credits with a strong chorus Woos (possibly the first time for Tarkovsky). Maybe we were cheering the idea of surviving in a movie together. A theater staff rowed us out; We obeyed like good little schoolchildren.
There is something good about a return to films right now. Laughter is faster. Perhaps it is compensation for all tape-off rows, all dead space. We have become a film ourselves telegraphing our emotions in such a way that only 14 months of mouth-covering masking can be promoted. Case in point: Orson Welles’ 1973 documentary “F for Fake” is entertaining in a pure, intellectual way, but it’s not a riot that some superfans Paris Theater in Midtown Were clearly happening.
It helps to bring your own excitement. Otherwise, a mind-blowing may devolve to air-conditioning units, refined with the necessary MERV 13 filters and somehow louder than memory. Is the roof too low? Was it a cough or a laugh? Do not let yourself get too distracted, or you will demote the policeman from paying the customer.
On The Alamo Drafthouse of Brooklyn Upon reopening at night, the House of Wax, the morose cocktail bar-slash-museum, was closed and idle, shame. Carpeted in orange patterned to look like the Overluck Hotel in “The Shining”, the foyer was unusually quiet.
Nevertheless, a temperature taker welcomed me as if the party was in full swing. Slide into my booth for Guy Ritchie’s fast “Wrath of manu, “For the first time in months, a huge amount delivered meWe can have dumb things again.) A toothpick-speared burger prepared on a tray. (Are they crazy) Feeling invincible, I decided to test the kitchen and order off-menu. My shake – half chocolate, half strawberry – came with a straw I knew I could slip under my mask. Jason Statham pressed my left and right popcorn kernels under them.
The best time I have – it’s like staying at home but loud and big – the communal experience is too polite to maintain a discussion of appropriate action. This will change over time as the size of the crowd increases with fear factor in the coming weeks.
But what is the alternative? It is almost too scary to consider. Blessed with an old-school marquee and a loyal crowd, Regal UA Court Street in Brooklyn Heights has long been my cozy local: a treasured destination for a Thursday night horror film. “Spiral,” The new “Saw” reboot starring Chris Rock and Samuel L. Jackson should fit the bill perfectly, even in its sloggy, imperfect form. But on opening night, a grandeur of a total of six people staked their place in an otherwise empty house. (One of them was my wife, who knew that masks could be easy eye blockers if you ever wanted to avoid the sight of gore.) Our engagement was so worthless, no one complained when a back- The line viewer gave him an hour’s argument over the phone. Some forms of torture are more entertaining than others, I think.
For the saddest vision of the current purge of multiplex moviegoing, a trip to AMC Empire 25 in Times Square reveals a postpocalyptic setting in need of characters. There is virtually no one in the lobby. Two teenage girls – are they the last two humans alive? – Take a selfie on the empty upper mezzanine. Still, I go up. Somewhere, Godzilla has a rumble, or it could be King Kong. In the theater, it is empty. Daniel Craig’s voice barks from the October trailer James Bond’s film ‘No Time to Die’ has been delayed three times. Echoes in antiseptic space: “If we don’t do this … there will be nothing left to save.”
Maybe 007 is too late. None of this will change until we are done with social disturbances, a boundary that is akin to Elizabeth Berkeley in “Showgirls” licking a metro pole in crowded times. It is better to find a theater that takes your safety as seriously as you do. On Friday night at the IFC Center in Greenwich Village, several tickets were still available for the never-released film of zombie maestro George A. Romero. Filmed in 1973 and less than an hour later, “The Amusement Park” is a more moving, talkative metaphor about the disapproval of the elderly by society, an entirely successful piece of drama. But it has the meat-and-potatoes persistence of the director’s low-budget Pittsburgh productions, and it will keep you in mind about “Night of the Living Dead” or “Dawn of the Dead” – that is, if a year old. You have not already strengthened by seeing the doctors on TV.
Our number in the theater was less than 10 and our distance was such that I had no objection to the secret crack of anything. Spike Lee, Miranda July, and Aaron Sorkin, among others, welcomed us to a Bespoke trailer made for the IFC Center, with an emphasis on keeping those masks. I loved supporting the theater that nurtured me in better times. Everyone did their best to avoid the deep-dish irony of locating Romero Castaway during an epidemic. Quiet was terrible.
Do I miss texters, scrollers, screen-grabbers, gambling Q and A hijackers who never go around their question? honestly no. I can enjoy a film myself, and have been doing so for decades, long before I was paid for it.
But I don’t want to be very comfortable without those strangers. Selfishly, I want them to be next to me, when we all change for the better by “parasite” or “itinerant”.
And if it is impossible now, then so be it. It was a hot spring evening when I fooled myself that I was jumping in the cab for the hottest screening of the season. It was the opening night of Zack Snyder’s highly entertaining ‘Army of the Dead’, equally indebted to John Carpenter’s sinful urban nightmare and Steven Soderbergh’s dazzling scherzo inventions of “Ocean XI”. It also has a zombie tiger.
In Paris, there was no red carpet. There was no line. There was no rush to speak. There was free popcorn. I fell on my fifth row seat and tuned the handful of people behind me. Stepping back, i did my best Robert De Niro in ‘Cape Fear’ (Without a cigar), spread a wide smile and let the grade-A bullshit dominate me.
If you’re interested, the film is already on Netflix. But you really had to live there.