Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Small movies, small theaters

I saw Tangerine last night, and due to the miracle of the internet (and having written my review between 12 and 1 a.m. last night), I don't have to tell you what I thought about one of my favorite movies of the year, because my thoughts already appear online. You can read my review here.

So instead, I'll spare a few words on watching a movie in perhaps the smallest commercial screening room I've ever sat in. Which is appropriate for a film shot entirely on the iPhone 5.

Back in its early days -- I won't say "its heyday" because the cinema is still going strong -- Cinema Nova in Carlton was a much more typical arthouse multiplex. It had probably six to eight screens (the interwebs would probably tell me if I did a cursory check), and presumably did quite nicely for itself. However, at some point in the last 15 years, the economics shifted in such a way that it seemed prudent to double the number of screens -- without increasing the footprint. As I understand it, the cinema was shut down for some lengthy period of renovation and emerged with a full 15 screens, the number it still has today.

What I didn't know until yesterday was that the higher the screen number, the smaller the screening room.

I sat for I believe the first time in "Cinema 15" last night, and I'm lucky I didn't bring a few friends because there wouldn't have been enough room for all of us.

In actual fact, I could have brought 21 friends with me, but that's it.

On the occasions I've ever been prompted to count the number of seats in a theater, it has always exceeded 22. That's four rows of four on one side of the aisle, and three rows of two on the other. That's it.

As you can imagine, the screen itself was not a whole lot bigger than an iPhone 5, either.

In order to duplicate the effect of opening and closing the curtains, a little old-fashioned bit of flair this cinema still engages in, the two curtains actually had to be lowered inward like a drawbridge closing. That's how little room there was here.

At first I thought I might be the only audient present for this show, but at the tail end of the trailers, another three people joined me. Which meant that the room was now almost one-fifth full.

At least the seats were really comfy.

For most people, this would still cost them the premium price of $19.50. For me, it was merely a flash of my Australian Film Critics Association membership card, and I was in.

Still, Tangerine was so good that I probably would have spent $39 for a theater with only 11 seats just to see it.

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