Thursday, December 7, 2023

Ursa Major on my movie screen

Short one today.

Last night I saw Saltburn, the second of two movies at the Village Cinemas in the increasingly moribund Jam Factory in South Yarra. I had arrived at 6:30 for an advanced screening of Ferrari, which doesn't open here for another month. To get this out of the way at the start, I liked both movies.

Writing about the Jam Factory today was one option, if I really wanted to depress myself. Might as well fit in some quick thoughts.

Indeed this was once a jam factory, and from the looks of it, they are trying to turn it into one again. When I first went there, the cinema -- which was always the centerpiece of the space -- was surrounded by clothing stores, restaurants and a Big W or KMart or Target, I can't remember which.

Now, all the restaurants and the Big Target Mart have closed, and the one remaining clothing store has its main entrance from the street. The entrance from the interior courtyard doesn't even open.

Here's a photo of the video screen on the way out. You can see behind it where some of the food court style restaurants used to be. This is what we call a "blue screen of death" in IT circles, when your computer has a fatal error that takes it out of the operating system entirely, and you have to reboot. I thought it was a good metaphor for the Jam Factory, only the reboot may never happen.

But instead of spending the lion's share of this post on what COVID hath wrought, I wanted to go slightly more optimistic and just talk about a possible sign of decline of the cinema ... or maybe just a maintenance issue that needs to be addressed.

My Saltburn screen had a mini big dipper on it.

Not the handle, just the dipping part.

What I mean by that is four small pricks in the surface of the screen that emitted a faint blue light from each. 

The small pricks were exactly in the shape of the four main parts of that most famous of constellations.

It's almost like it had to be intentional. How do you get four small pin pricks of equal size on your movie screen, spaced exactly perfectly to approximate Ursa Major? (If I'd been thinking of it, that's what I should have taken a picture of.) Sure, one pin prick could be an accident (if this is actually a physical hole) or screen degradation, but four spaced perfectly like this? Highly suss.

In any case, it did not sufficiently impact my viewing of Saltburn. I only really noticed it when the action on screen was particularly dark. (Which it always was in this movie, though in that case I'm using the word metaphorically rather than literally.) 

I'll have to try to go see something on screen 4 sometime early next year, to see if this is a recently occurring maintenance issue that will be fixed, or a precursor to the closing of the theater. If things are as depressing for Village Cinemas in this location as they are for the rest of the Jam Factory, they might just be letting themselves go in antiticaption of their own blue screen of death.

And here I thought this second point might be less depressing.

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