THE ROAR OF THE PROJECTOR-THE SMELL OF THE NITRATE

As a person working within the aspects of electronic journalism, one has to opportunity to attend meetings, conventions, and other form of gatherings that hold a specific common bond, be it a trade show that deals with an industry of some sort, an event that holds workshops consisting of a group of people seated behind a table with mics placed in front of them speaking upon a topic relevant to the trade or industry in question, along with the happy hour-type social event(s) that come along with the workshops! This doesn’t count the swag one receives as well, ideal for the taking to keep or to give away as gifts to those on one’s gift giving list!

Most of the time after the events comes to its end, one is glad to have the affair done and over with. Sure, one can receive a wealth of information, advice, and knowledge, in addition to making contacts with those within the industry collecting a series of business cards, e-mail addresses, as well as following their activities through social media outlets. But after the smoke clears and everyone attending has gone to where they came from, the attendee of the trade show, etc. would wipe their brow, say “Golly-gee! Glad this show is over with!!” only to move on to other things until the next session; assuming if the person will attend the next event, or if the event will ever take place again!

But once in a while, one will attend a related gathering of some sort where one will do the typical antics expected at a convention (collect business cards, attend workshops, etc.) but after the event is done and over with, one feels a sense of withdraw, holding a bittersweet feeling that after the few days of all of the fun and antics taking place, everything that occurred is gone and done with; Again, only to return in the next cycle assuming that there will be a next cycle!

One of those events that contain this feeling of withdraw just made its finish over the previous weekend. (March 26th-29th). And that event was the annual Turner Classic Movies Classic Film Festival, hosted and arranged by Turner Classic Movies (TCM), the media outlet that features older movies and connected programming paying tribute of movies created from the golden days of Hollywood (pre-1960), as well as the post golden period (up to 1980). Generally speaking, TCM showcases feature films created and released up to the dawn of the cable TV and home video era where beforehand, the only way to view an older movie was to either wait until it aired on TV (cut for commercials, ‘natch!), or to attend a revival screening taking place somewhere. Those revival screenings usually occurred on a college campus or at a local theater that would even bother to showcase a title that wasn’t a current feature! (This was usually the exception than the rule, so seeing an older film in a theater was indeed a treat!)

Turner Broadcasting, right around the time if became part of media company Time-Warner, started TCM in 1994 as a backlash to another channel that showcased old movies, American Movie Classics. AMC was then a pay service that showed pre-1960 titles sans commercials, and used TV personality Nick Clooney as its host, introducing what one was about to see offering tidbits about the film and some interesting behind the scene stories connected to its production. Although such channels as HBO and its sister channel Cinemax occasionally featured older movies within its programming mix, those outlets mostly highlighted films that were at least one or two years old. But AMC saluted Hollywood’s golden era, a time that was quickly fading away from the moving making landscape.

Since Turner Broadcasting fully owned a lot of film libraries (all of the pre-1987 titles from MGM, the entire RKO library, and thanks to the merger of Time-Warner, the entire Warner Bros. library as well as a few other selections (films from Monogram/Allied Artists, etc.), there were enough programming to go around that they controlled outright! (AMC leased a lot of their films from 20th Century Fox as well as a few of the smaller outlets).

Over time and tide, TCM grew to what they became, while AMC shifted gears. Today, that outlet airs cutting edge TV shows such as The Walking Dead, Mad Men, Breaking Bad, its spinoff Better Call Saul, and a host of others. AMC kept its letters, no longer standing for anything, and movies are no longer part of their schedule block. TCM however, is better than ever, thanks to being available through steaming video and phone apps, offering programming in high def, and never cuts nor interrupts its programming with ads. For many subscribers of TV via cable, satellite or other means, it will be one of the only channel to watch!

The TCM Classic Film Festival is just the same. This time, taking camp in Hollywood, using the facilities of the TCL Chinese Theater complex, the nearby Egyptian Theater, and even using the El Captain Theater located across the street from the Chinese. Its based is the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel, a facility that is just as part of Hollywood and the age it speaks for.

Of course, yours truly can wax poetic over what did take place, what films were screened, who were in attendance that were involved in movies from both sides of the camera, and other details. But that’s another issue as that stands. However what made the festival unique in its own right was the people that made the trek to Hollywood from many parts of the nation as well as a few places internationally as one common bond–just to watch old movies!

This writer did meet a lot of folks. Some were industry people–those that work on movies in some aspects for real (and for pay no doubt), while many were those in attendance because they find the medium of movies attractive. These folks would sit around the lounge that TCM set up at the Roosevelt’s Blossom Room over drinks to chat about what they saw, what they would like to see, as well as possibly cut a few deals! (Hey! It’s Hollywood!) Many of those people this writer met were very friendly and quite charming, in spite of Hollywood’s notion of aggression and its dog-eat-dog attitude! It was indeed a great vibe that was going on, something that one can feel just standing in the room.

As to some of the guest speakers and events, such mileposts happening were (among others), a conversation between Alec Baldwin and Dustin Hoffman following a screening of Lenny from a well worn 35mm print, director William Friedkin speaking with Alec Baldwin after a screening of The French Connection, Shirley Maclaine speaking before such screenings as The Apartment, The Children’s Hour, as well as a sit-down stand-alone conversation with Leonard Maltin. Again, other milestones occurred, and one can find out what took place via TCM’s web site at http://filmfestival.tcm.com/

So as this writer settles down back to the so-called real world in opposed to the “reel world”, yours truly can state that movies are just as big as they always were then as they are now. As the summer movie season arrives, one will read about how much money these blockbuster films will rake in, especially if those titles are more into the genres of comic book style action/adventure, animation, fantasy, or a combination of all three! There will be other titles as well, from comedies (the raunchy type), to dramas, to independent/art movies that tend to win awards (especially titles released after October 1st), and in all points in between. Although many media critics state that this period (the mid-2010s) have stated, wrote, blogged, and tweeted this is another “Golden Age of Television” thanks to the selection of programming and how one gains access to such–high def TV monitors 80” across to smart phone devices boasting a 2” screen, people will still go the movies in a theater. Depending where these folks go, they may have the conforms of home attending an upscale movie house seating on lounge chairs a la “Lay-Z-Boys” while waiters serve gourmet items as nacho chips with cheese sauce, hot dogs with all the trimmings, and popcorn culled from golden corn stalks, where one can wash it all down with fancy soda pop and even alcohol–and pay for the privilege to boot! Or one can do the same thing at home. Taking the latter may not get one out the house, but then again, does that really make any difference??

Note: Special thanks to Mary Borowy for contributing material for this article.

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NEWS AND REVIEWS

     SkyPilot Theatre Company presents the world premier of Liz Shannon Miller’s CLUTCH, that tells the saga of a recently deceased NFL player, the family he left behind, and the outsider that holds an interest in him that is far from his previous career playing the game of football.

The setting is a funeral hall where the family of Gordon Beers gathers. Gordon played the game of football for eight seasons as a wide receiver. His career ended over an injury some two decades before, taking him out of the sport for good reduced to living a life suffering through his injury until his final moments. The surviving family consists of two adult children, (played by Phoebe Kuhlman and Damien Landini), Gordon’s sister (Ellen Rae Littman) and her son Freddy (Henry Knotts). The brood gathers for the service where their beloved one will be eventually cremated. A strange woman to the surviving family arrives for the service, not only to pay her respects, but is present for another reason. Dwaba White plays a neuroscientist from a nearby state university that has been studying the causes and effects of those that suffered blows on the head from playing in contact sports. She in interested in receiving Gordon’s brain matter for her research. She’s been communicating with Gordon through e-mail correspondence during his final years; A notion that the family was not aware of. Although her request for his brain mass is for scientific research, the daughter is against this idea. But as the family bickers among themselves, in walks another stranger that was also a former NFL player. (Bobby Neely) His presence holds some connection to Gordon’s demise from playing upon the gridirons during those long past Sundays.

This one act play can be described as a dramatic comedy or a comical dramaity. Although its theme is far from something as comedy relief, it dose contain some humorous aspects (and witty humor at that), while keeping a notion of sober moments as well. The cast of seven performers (also featuring Duane Taniguchi as the funeral parlor director) characterize as a clan that do have their dysfunctional moments. These actions consists of basic factors of a family taking their elements of disagreement–the same kind of disagreements all families tend to follow, especially in times of crisis. Kristina Lloyd’s stage direction keep these portions alive, making each moment as a believable state where conflicts arise and sobering truths come out of their individual closets.

What makes this performance unique is its setting. The production is presented not on a theater stage, but in a mid sized meeting room at the Sportsman’s Lodge. The room itself resembles a funeral parlor, complete with standard luncheon hall-type chairs and a church-esk podium set along a marbled tiled wall. This is how the hall exists at the Sportsman’s Lodge where one can host a business meeting, a wedding reception, or a funeral service sans corpse and casket! In other words, the hall resides as is, giving this play a virtual set. No set decorator played a part in this production outside of the original architect of the room used for this theater piece!

This play is a stage work that is ripped from today’s headlines–or at least the sport section’s headlines! Brain injuries from playing contact sports is something that’s is indeed rather series. CLUTCH is a bittersweet play that asks questions that don’t seem to have answers–yet! It’s a high price to pay for performing in a sport that keeps a large following for its fans. It may be just a game, but there isn’t enough time outs to maintain a final score!

     CLUTCH, presented by the SkyPilot Theatre Company, performs in The Oak Room (adjacent to the River Rock Lodge), located within The Sportsman’s Lodge Event Center, 12833 Ventura Blvd. (at Coldwater Canyon), Studio City, until May 5th. Showtimes are Monday and Tuesday nights at 8:00 PM. For ticket reservations, call (323) 229-2753, or via the SkyPilot Theatre Company’s website at http://www.SkyPilotTheatre.com

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All rights reserved. The views and opinions are those of the writers, and not necessarily of the staff and management. ‘Nuff said!

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