Wednesday, December 15, 2010

The artic-"what?"-cles of Narnia

I don't know how it is where you are, but here in Los Angeles, it's become fashionable for nice theaters to set up displays in their lobbies in conjunction with certain big films. These displays frequently feature mannequins wearing articles of clothing from the movie in question. I'd say it's unique to the Arclight brand, but I think I've also seen it at the multiplex closest to my house, which was once called Cinema du Lux at The Bridge, or The Bridge for short -- maybe not a great name, but I like it better than what they call it now, which is Rave Motion Pictures. (Blah.)

I definitely see the value in these kinds of displays, in terms of enticing the viewer.

Unless, that is, those articles of clothing are completely unremarkable.

Take the display I saw this weekend at the Arclight in Hollywood, where I was seeing The King's Speech while doing some shopping in the area. It was for The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, a movie I can't seem to stop talking about on my blog. As you can see, though, the costumes were nothing to write home about. Sweaters, sweater vests, skirts and slacks.

I suppose if these are the actual sweaters, sweater vests, skirts and slacks worn by the actors in the movie, that's of limited interest. And maybe they are, I don't know. But wouldn't it still be much more impressive if the costumes could stand on their own as pieces of art, and not just be whatever the wardrobe department decided to dress the Narnia kids in?

One of the first times I saw this, it was for a period piece, something like The Duchess. A movie where the costumes played an essential role in our viewing experience. In that case, the flowing gowns, fancy hats and ornate stitching were impressive in their own right. It made for a dazzling lobby display.

But more and more lately I've seen this kind of thing, where the movie is not on the short list of contenders for an Oscar nomination, not even close. In fact, of all the things in Dawn Treader there probably are to be impressed about, the costumes are probably far down that list. Or if there are impressive costumes in this movie, these are not them.

One of the strangest of these I saw was for Just Wright, the basketball romantic comedy with Queen Latifah and Common, which came out this past spring. If I recall correctly, there was a mannequin wearing a New Jersey Nets jersey and a mannequin wearing ... trainer clothing? What does a trainer wear? Maybe some kind of Juicy gym ensemble? Anyway, that's what the second mannequin was wearing.

But I've actually been extra generous so far with my choice of which part of the Narnia display to emphasize. The two costumes above at least have some character to them, within the overall scheme of generally bland clothing. Just take a look at the third mannequin that was on display:

A gray shirt and a pair of darker gray pants. No colors. No patterns. Just washed-out monochromes that could be from any movie, at any time, about anything.

Even memorabilia has its limitations, doesn't it? Or shouldn't it?

One more observation from my viewing of The King's Speech on Sunday: I know it's a nice theater, and I know it's got assigned seating, but $16 for a non-3D, non-IMAX movie that starts at 1:30 on a Sunday afternoon? Ouch.

No comments: