Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Landmark's First Films

Well, this is interesting.

The times and films are up for Friday, and it is good and bad news in a number of ways, I believe.

To play "Bee Movie," potentially on two screens, says "Hey, tourists and families, after you stop by Harborplace... why not give us your money?" That makes sense on a number of levels and is an example of a film getting a chance to be screened in Baltimore city that otherwise would not be shown.

To play "Blade Runner: The Final Cut" and "Control" says "Hey, Charles theater, watch out. We are coming for you." I can still remember noticing the "Control" poster go up in the lobby of the Charles and then noticing that it had vanished (it can be a fun game to play, keeping track of all the posters the Charles puts up for movies that it does not wind up showing). This also places people like myself, who have been heard to say at parties that they shall never darken the door of this dreaded cineplex, in a serious bind. I desire very greatly to see "Control," and may do so Monday.

Now, to play the quite excellent film "American Gangster" is the most provocative move for a number of reasons. For one, the Senator will be playing this film, so that puts the two houses head to head on Friday night. For another, based on the preview screening that I attended, African-American people want to see "American Gangster." Not to be racist, but one must acknowledge the segregation that still plagues Baltimore. Will the Landmark become a place in which all races and classes of people are welcomed openly not just in legal theory but in reality, or will there be tension and divison? The last time there was a movie theater downtown, such tensions may have contributed to its closure. Has Baltimore "got in on it" enough, or are the old ugly prejudices and feelings still strong? Will Michael Olesker's fears be realized? Certainly, it could be argued that playing "American Gangster" is a move away from such elitism.

Well, having navigated that minefield, I shall move on. A list of all movies viewed in October (with commentary) is up next.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Movie Houses in October (in general)

In general, it feels like there is a bit of a rush to the gate with quality movies of a certain film- festival-confirmed importance around Charm City this October. Usually, things are delayed and spread out into the new year, and the draws are parceled out in drips and drabs, with DC at least a few weeks ahead of us (I do wonder how the heck we got "Lust, Caution" already, just for example). It is to be noted that the Charles especially has been consistently throwing movies of a certain Oscar sheen at the masses, and I believe they are trying to beat the date of doom, November 2nd, although I have no confirmation of this. The same movies could be playing in your town right now, for all I know.

"Date of doom," you may ask? On November 2nd, the Landmark Harbor East will arrive. This arthouse chain theater will have clearance over the Charles but not the Senator. This makes the Senator gleefully happy right now, to the point where their website links to the Landmark's page. However, the Senator has had to delay a run of the umpteenth cut of "Blade Runner" so that the Landmark can run it digitally first. I am curious to see how chummy the two entities will be as the Landmark contines to flex its corporate muscles and The Senator sees how damned difficult it is to keep independent film distributors happy with only three screens and a "No. 1 movie in America at all times" attitude. I predict the Senator's hopes to get the next "Brokeback Mountain" or "Little Miss Sunshine" may be dashed when they refuse to show this season's "Noi Albinoi" or "United States of Leland."

I imagine that the Charles in a bit of a pickle at the moment with this date, long delayed, now finally arrived. It is not just that there is a Starbucks opening next door, but a Starbucks that will not allow you to sell certain popular types of coffee since they already do. The Charles has not bemoaned its situation like the Senator did during the dust-up over who gets to show "Fahrenheit 9/11," and I respect them for that, but I am nervous about what will happen next. Does the Charles have a strategy, and, if so, what is it?

I do see hope in recent events coordinated by the Maryland Film Festival at the Charles which I believe have been big draws (free 3-D movies and the like). When I stopped by today, the place was being tricked out for a big fundraiser for the Festival with tables, tents, and all the trimmings. It seems as if the MFF and the Charles will remain friendly in the aftermath of the tragic events of November the Second and hopefully this relationship will benefit both. Still, I am curious to see if Landmark will make overtures towards the Festival as it begins to do what all good corporations due upon arriving in town (attempt to decimate all competition). We shall see...

Well, that's it for now. In my next entry I promise to talk about actual movies and what I thought of them. If I could offer two "off the cuff" recommendations it would be to check out the revival of "Stalker" at the Charles. playing Monday, October 29th at seven and Thursday, November 1st at nine. Also, consider "Syndromes and a Century" at the BMA on Thursday, November 1st at eight. If you have the time and temerity, I would say go for one or both. More on both films later.


Welcome to Charm City Cineaste. I have been inspired by recent events to jump into the fray of push-button publishing and share my thoughts and opinions about movies in Baltimore. I am a dedicated moviegoer and am passionate about the art of film. I am employed part-time by one of the three entities exhibiting films in Baltimore, and admit I am biased due to that fact.

The number of movie screens in Baltimore is about to double, and I would like to use this space as a place to capture this seismic event as it happens. I would also like to write about my own history with film and ponder the future of my habit of going into a dark box with strangers and watching talking pictures.

Again, I bid you welcome, and hope you enjoy.