Summer blockbuster movies are mythic in this town. The goal of the blockbuster is to take kids who are out of school and put them in air-conditioned theaters munching away on tons of popcorn and candy. The darkened theater has been the locale of many a budding romance and for many is the ultimate date place.
This year the summer blockbusters have been more like blockbombs. Hollywood is not doing as good a job as in years past at getting the audience to listen and attend. It’s not really surprising when you consider they’re relying on extended fight scenes like in “Man of Steel” to engage the audience and keep the word of mouth going.
I liked “Man of Steel,” but frankly I thought it was about 30 minutes too long, and most of that was in the culminating fight scene that should have been cut out. The problem that the movie industry is having is that with social media it’s very easy for me to share that opinion with the thousands of people who are in my extended Facebook family.
3D was supposed to be the savior of the industry and make the “movie-going experience” an event again. Well, maybe for some people, but for me, I’ve seen only two “Big Studio” movies over the past five years that I think the 3D effects actually made the movie more enjoyable: “Avatar” by James Cameron and this summer’s “Star Trek: Into Darkness.”
All of this is a lead up to my new love for the Aero Theatre on Montana Avenue. This nonprofit theater, run by the American Cinematheque, has been getting more of my money and time as they put on great movies and have an audience that is made up of adults who act like adults in a theater.
Two weeks ago, I was treated to a 3D movie in this old-style movie house and, frankly, I was very nervous. We arrived late, even though I bought tickets online at Fandango.com, so we were down front on the far left side. Anyone who has ever attended a 3D movie knows that the only good spots are dead center in the house, and then the quality of the viewing experience just drops off until the movie is unwatchable at the sides and front seating.
We were there to see “Storm Surfers” in 3D. This movie was about tow-out surfers who are hard-core adventure seekers looking for new waves in ever increasing sizes. The film was shot with a mix of cameras, including specially made 3D Hero GoPros that were handheld, which take us right into the water with the surfers. Amazing footage was captured of immense waves.
Luckily for me, the quality of the new 3D projection systems allowed for a perfect viewing experience from the third row at the front of the theater on the left side. I was very impressed with the creative use of the 3D technology and it achieved the goal, which was to make me feel like I was in the water with the surfers.
Feeling like you’re there is what makes a movie such an invigorating experience. The best movies transport us not just visually, but viscerally. I had another great time this past weekend when the Aero Theatre screened a new 70 mm print of “Lawrence of Arabia.” I had seen bits and pieces of this epic film over the years on television, but I would flip right past this deep and dramatic story by T.E. Lawrence.
Viewing a great movie on a large screen is truly an event not to be missed. The craftsmanship that went into making “Lawrence” will likely never be seen again due to the huge costs and impossible logistics. Today that movie would be made on a greenscreen and the impressive backgrounds painted in with a computer. It just can’t compete with real film of the real world. The imagery that was captured has a depth and character that no computer program can recreate.
Technology is amazing. It can take us places we would likely never get to otherwise, like inside the massive wall of a wave or into the starry night of deep space. But at the end of the day, we need a real story, with real imagery, to make a real impact.
To see something amazing, and to feel something spectacular, go see a classic movie at the Aero Theatre. It’s just better up there.
David Pisarra is a Los Angeles divorce and child custody lawyer specializing in father’s and men’s rights with the Santa Monica firm of Pisarra & Grist. He welcomes your questions and comments. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (310) 664-9969. You can follow him on Twitter @davidpisarra