In 2010 I saw 100 different movies in 100 different theaters. Here are the details.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

79. Get Low

Davis Theater

In the heart of Chicago's Ravenswood neighborhood (or Lincoln Square, depending on how specific you want to be), the Davis Theater is one of Chicago's more than five hundred theaters, past and present. Cinema Treasures lists 24 Chicago theaters still open and showing movies today (in 2013) (though it also lists 24 for San Francisco, which my most liberal counting can only number as 22).

The theater was built in 1918 as a ~1,500 seat, one screen auditorium originally known as the Pershing Theater. The entrance is on Lincoln Ave., but the auditorium itself runs parallel to Lincoln Ave., behind the other shallow store fronts. In its nearly one hundred year career, the Davis Theater has shown both first-run and second-run movies, movies in English and in German, and both studio and independent features (source). Divided into four separate smaller auditoriums in the 1980s, the theater now shows both mainstream and art-house at the same time.

Outside, the building has a great old facade and blade.

Tickets are sold inside the door through what looks to me like an old bank teller window.

The lobby, with its low ceilings and minimalist decor, evokes none of the original charm it must have had at one point. I enjoyed the various movie posters on display, but the structure itself is unimpressive.

The auditoriums are the negative surprise, though. The largest auditorium seats only 228, while the smallest seats 171; the theater has 815 seats in total. In my auditorium, the floor actually slanted, horizontally, from left to right (you can see this effect in the picture below), such that I was sitting just slightly uphill from my girlfriend who was to my right. Very odd. The seats rock, but are a bit too loose.

The Davis is only the 5th non-Bay Area theater that I visited in 2010 (and my first theater outside of California, which would eventually grow to include California, Illinois, Nevada, and Arizona). Though I later moved within walking distance of the Davis, and lived there for more than a year, I nevertheless only visited it another four times, instead spreading my viewings out among ten different theaters in the greater Chicago area. This variety was driven partly by convenience of meeting up with friends, partly by film selection, but also partly because the auditoriums at the Davis leave much to be desired. (Though I am ever grateful for their air conditioning on a hot, humid summer day.)


An ad for Bleu de Chanel cologne is both interesting and confusing. It slams together competing narratives of a man looking at, chasing, or otherwise interacting with a few different women, but culminates in the disconnected statement, "I'm not going to be the person I'm expected to be anymore." Other than those scented inserts in magazines, fragrance advertising just doesn't make sense.

Filmed either in conjunction with or at least knowledge of the upcoming Tron sequel, a Scion commercial has its various colored cars racing through a futuristic cityscape, while the buildings and roads glide mechanical roadblocks into the path of the oncoming cars. Has the feel of Tron's cycle races.

I'm out of the loop on the Macy's parade, and what it's like to be at Macy's during the holidays, but this commercial suggests that the department store is all abuzz with preparations for the upcoming season. To fetch a pair of shoes, a store clerk must navigate a warehouse filled with celebrities, each fine-tuning their respective products in anticipation of launch day. Martha Stewart has a table of wares; Jennifer Lopez sprays perfume on a corsage for the clerk; Puff Daddy poses in a suit; Donald Trump badgers one of Santa's elves; and there are a few more cameos I can't place.

When a commercial shows a hero using their product, the message is clear: use the product. When the commercial shows a villain using a competitor's product, the message is mostly clear: don't use that other product; use ours. But when a commercial shows a villain we love to hate waxing tactlessly on a variety of topics, saying some things we guiltily agree with, it's really confusing what exactly we're supposed to do with the information. Jane Lynch, as Glee's tough-as-nails Coach Sue, speaks out against animals and rain forests, kids and education, artists and the arts, and in general being a good person. The commercial ends with "Don't be a Sue", and encourages me to join American Express's Members Project, which seems tailored to lazy people like me who contribute nothing charitable to the world, but nonetheless want a pat on the back every time I "like" a charitable organization on Facebook. What's really confusing about this spot is that I didn't know who "Sue" was at the time. I was left wondering if "Don't be a Sue" implied, " a Jane", and who the hell put this commercial together that makes fun of environmentalism, education, and the arts, not infrequent targets by a certain political demographic. Now that I get it, I'm glad that Jane is on my side. And apparently, so is American Express.


The Social Network

(Previously reviewed)

Get Low

I'm not going to go into great detail here, because although I enjoyed this movie, three years after the fact I'm not recalling enough to respond to it in a meaningful way.

In Waking Ned Devine, a living man lends his name to a dead man, and gets the dead man's name in return, so the town can collect on the dead man's lottery winnings. As a result, he is able to attend a funeral where he is eulogized by his best friend, in a manner of sorts. That touching happenstance is the central premise of Get Low.

Felix Bush (Robert Duvall) is a reclusive hermit. Perhaps nearing the end of his life, he decides to hold a public accounting of himself. He invites the locals to come share stories about him, which at first we can assume is to satisfy some vanity in himself, but soon we get the idea that noone has anything good to say about him, and he knows it. Felix promises to be the main attraction at his own funeral, which he hires Lucas Black and undertaker Bill Murray to promote. (Murray's undertaker, having moved to this rural town from the city, and being unpleasantly surprised by the longevity of rural folk, says, "One thing about Chicago is people know how to die." What a thing to be nostalgic for.)

Why is Felix such a curmudgeon? Sissy Spacek drifts into the picture as someone who once knew him in a more tender way, and as with most movies from Citizen Kane to Revenge of the Sith, an old man's grumpiness can be explained by some deterministic event that cast him down the path of darkness, only to fight back with a last-minute, death bed repentance (in the words of minister Bart Simpson).

The twist here is that, whereas in most movies the curmudgeon, having forgotten his purity, must be reminded of it, Felix has never lost sight of that event that set him apart, and, most importantly, has never forgiven himself for it. His silent exile purposes not to evade judgement, but to deny people the opportunity to grant forgiveness that by his own accounting, Felix doesn't deserve.

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