Friday, June 26, 2009

Film Exhibition in Baltimore (June 2009)

(revised and with links, as an earlier draft was posted without polishing)

First of all, kudos to City Paper's Lee Gardner on his recent article on the state of film distribution and exhibition in America's increasingly On Demand digital marketplace. Worth a read.

The Senator theater will be sold at auction on Wednesday, July 22nd. The screenings of The Yellow Submarine have stopped, and the most recent updates have raised the (purely speculative) specter of the theater being turned into a church by a potential buyer. The most recent e-mails have called for volunteers to help re-paint the many iconic commemorative sidewalk blocks outside the theater. Let us hope that the participants have artistic abilities that match their volunteer zeal.

Several years ago, the summer was a slow time for the Charles theater. It seems that this slowness has returned, with the era of the fake indie summer hit award-winner loss-leader coming to an end (the most recent casualty seems to be Paramount Vantage, which appears to be going through a significant shake-up). You combine the reality of the marketplace with the Landmark Harbor East's poaching of anything with any potential for profit, and Away We Go into a particularity slow season for the theater. Recent screenings of the entries for the Baltimore edition of The 48 Hour Film Project were packed-lobby frenetic and a reminder of a different time. Here's hoping that something comes along soon to bring in some business.

For this author, there is a feeling of exhaustion, a dourness about the state of things. It is hard to embrace the changes that seem to be coming at an ever-accelerating rate. The future is unwritten, but it is hard not to see the writing on the wall.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Films Viewed (May 2009)

The Player
Star Trek: The Motion Picture
X-men Origins: Wolverine
La Cicatrice Interieure
Star Trek
Tokyo Sonata
Kansas City
The Girlfriend Experience
Hoop Dreams
Anvil! The Story of Anvil
Drag Me to Hell

The Charles
The Senator
The Landmark Harbor East
The Rotunda
Other (DVD, On Demand, cable)
Total: 16 films (10 in theaters)

Notes: This month, I welcome the independent Rotunda to the key. I imagine I will be seeing films there soon enough.

The summer movie season began, which means it's time to go to the Landmark. I was surprised about their recent decision to actually play two smaller films. I figured they didn't have the room with all the blockbusters rolling in.

Quite a mix of high and low this month. I particularly enjoyed Tokyo Sonata, a film which, in my view, captured the angst of recent times note-perfectly (although opinion was divided). It was one of many films the Charles has run for a week or two, hoping that something sticks.

It was surprising to have the opportunity to see Drag Me to Hell at the Charles. I had a lot of fun, as the film hearkens back to when Sam Rami made Sam Rami movies. Still, it was odd not to see it at the mall in 1987.

The Altman retrospective came to an end, and so did the revival series. It seems that instead of "grab bag" stop-gaps, the revival series is taking a break. I hope it is a brief one.

Up next, film exhibition in Baltimore in general (including an auction date for the Senator). Until then...