Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Film Exhibition in Baltimore (May 2009)

As usual, the Senator dominates the month's news. An article in the Sun newspaper claimed that the City now owns the theater (there is no online link to be found to the article, which I read). The Senator claims that this is not true, and there is an important meeting of some kind going on at the Senator this evening to "set the record straight," as it were. This sad situation is beginning to remind me of the title of a recent Iraq War documentary. In the meantime, continue to enjoy Beatles films, digitally projected, until somebody puts a padlock on the place.

The Rotunda, assumed dead, has returned under new management. One could go there this very evening and see a first-run movie. This new management is not affiliated with the Senator, but the film times and other information is available at the Senator's website for some reason.

The Charles theater hosted the 2009 Maryland Film Festival, which was a successful and enjoyable weekend by all accounts. It was odd not to be caught up in my yearly weekend of cinema immersion, but I am glad to hear that all went well, and hope to be there next year.

Despite this high point, it does seem like the Charles has had trouble finding its next Slumdog Millionaire. This is typical at this time of the year for the theater, but it is always the cause of some hand-wringing, especially since the Landmark Harbor East still finds a way to squeeze in indie crowd-pleasers between screenings of every single popular mainstream Hollywood film. Oh well...

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Films Viewed (April 2009)

Everlasting Moments
Thieves Like Us
Conan the Barbarian (w/commentary)
Ladies and Gentleman, the Fabulous Stains
Dernier Maquis
The K-Swift Story
California Split
Sin Nombre
Ann Everton Videos, volume two
Buffalo Bill and the Indians

The Charles
The Senator
The Landmark Harbor East
Other (DVD, This-TV, Video Americain)
Total: 12 features, 1 collection of short films (8 in theaters)

Notes: All in all, a pleasingly diverse month, with some new adventures.

I rented a film for the first time with the sole intention of watching it with commentary. To listen to a seemingly drunk Ah-nold and director John Milius wax poetic about their muscle-bound classic is indeed something to hear.

Against my better instincts I went to the Senator see an old classic long on the list. The place was depressing, drafty, and drab. It could have been my personal opinions coloring the experience, but there is no doubt that someone forgot to turn the heat on.

It was good to catch Dernier Maquis, a fascinating take on the experiences of working class Muslims in France, at the Charles as part of their Cinemateque Francais series. This monthly screening series continues on into June, ending with another film I want to see, Captain Ahab. The Charles also allowed me to see more Altman films, many for the first time, and the sublime Everlasting Moments, which was like a hearty filmic meal, what Berlin Alexanderplatz could have been without all that cold intellectual calculation. What would I do without that place?

I guess I would watch more this-tv. This new digital variant of WBFF is a true 21st century shlockfest, playing anything they can digitze in its vast catalog of holdings. It is odd to see a truly goofy eco-horror flick like Frogs digitally re-mastered and crystal clear, but it also a break from the static of typical cable film channel programming.

Of course, tomorrow begins the 2009 Maryland Film Festival, and this year's schedule looks as top-notch as ever. For the first time since I began attending the festival ten years ago, I am looking at a weekend without the possiblity of attending screenings due to various obligations I cannot break. For recommendations, I would point towards Eric Hatch and Skizz Cyzyk's insider's guides (with trailers), and highly encourage you to get down there and see some movies. Screen one for the Cineaste!