WHO CARES WHAT PICTURE YOU SEE?

This is already early May. And when it comes to the movie industry, the business where traditional and perhaps non-traditional outlets involved in the creation and distribution of movies tend to release their line of what’s called “Summer Blockbusters”. These are the kind of titles that are out to make money and those that people want to see for entertainment’s sake. Those factors are behind the real reason why movies are made (to make a profit), and why people will go out to a theater that isn’t located in one’s home or dwelling space and pay for the privilege. These folks want to be entertained. They actually hold the desire to watch something on a big screen, far bigger than one would have within their home and for a time frame from 90 minutes and beyond, and escape to view a storyline featuring characters and settings that is far removed from something out of “real life”.


Just recently, the big movie theater’s convention called Cinecon (formally ShoWest) that is organized by the National Association of Theater Owners (NATO), a trade group of companies that operate traditional movie theaters, had their settee in Las Vegas. The big movie studios as well as a few smaller ones, showed off their new releases to those movie theater programmers with all of the guts and glory one can expect from the company that hails from Hollywood, USA. Actually, out of the six movie studios that were around when “old Hollywood” was alive and living, only Paramount Pictures are based in Hollywood proper. The rest of them are located somewhere else in Los Angeles County. Disney and Warner Bros. are in Burbank. Universal is based in Universal City and in turn is next door to Burbank. Fox Studios, now part of Disney, is based in the Los Angeles city limits near the community of Century City, and Sony Studios (Columbia Pictures), is located in Culver City where Metro-Goldwyn-Meyer was once set.


If one is rather confused over these names and places, don’t worry! There are new kids in town so to speak. Both Apple and Amazon Studios are also based in Culver City, and Netflix is in L.A, with a studio in the community of Venice. Those latter companies are not out to create a multimillion dollar blockbuster feature title. They are players who create smaller titles that are far different than their counterparts. Their “summer movie season” runs from October to the end of the year that release dramas that cater toward an older crowd, especially of that said older crowd belongs to a club or guild that hold award ceremonies giving off awards for the best in their category. And unlike the summertime movies, most of their content tends to be original. They are not connected to anything that pre-existed somewhere else, such as a remake/reboot/reimagining of an existing feature created years, perhaps decades before. They also don’t hold any connection to a comic book character, a TV series, a plaything, or anything else that could be described as intellectual property, or “IP” for short.


Anyway, before yours truly writes upon the events going on at Cinecon, this convention again, was once called Showest. The reason for this name was at one time, there was another convention that took place in Atlantic City, New Jersey around the fall season calling itself Shoeast. Well, Shoeast faded off, and Showest, a title that didn’t make any sense anymore was changed to Cinecon. (“Cine”, a name that means “films” or “movies”, and “con” meaning “convention”.) And to make things a bit more confusing, Cinecon is not to be confused with another convention called Cinemacon, that is a film festival featuring old and rather obscure movies released from the early days of movies to the 1960’s. That festival took place around the Labor Day weekend. This writer has attended both Cinemacon and Showest in the past, even still holding on to the swag that was given away to all attendees way back when. But I digress!!


One good bit of news to report from what was reported from Cinecon regarding to the future fate of movies. The studios release a laundry list of some nineteen titles that will be out in real theaters for those to see in the same way that movies were exhibited. That is, in a movie house with an auditorium-type setting where total strangers watch a movie at the same time where everyone can laugh, cry, yell, scream, and overall react to what’s going on within the big screen. These same folks can also get traditional snacks at the concession stand. And depending on where they are, they can also dine on gourmet foods and even drink alcohol! This form of watching a movie is far different to watching in one’s homestead. Granted, at home one can snack on anything one pleases! And they can even talk during the movie, use their phones to text a message to somebody, and even hit the pause button if they need to take a break from the action to get more snacks, feed the dog, use the bathroom, etc. You really can’t do that in a traditional movie house as some movie attendees, especially if they are from a specific age demographic (we are speaking to you Millennials and Gen-Zers!!) find out rather fast!


During the last two years, the movie industry was sitting in a stage of funk. During the pandemic driven lockdowns, movie theaters were not able to function. Folks were forced to stay home. But a lucky break came along. This was the time where TV streaming started to take hold. Before long, the movie studios that got into the streaming game started to arrange their movie releases as streaming titles and charge for the difference. Disney offered a few titles as a pay-per-view option via Disney+ Warner Bros. that operates HBO and the streaming service HBO+, had all of their 2021 releases available through their channels for the same cost as a monthly subscription. Paramount released a load of their theatrical releases through Paramount+. The only studio that has yet to place their streaming footholds is Sony Studios. However, they did rather well in doing their best to get their new stuff to their audiences. Even if that same audience wasn’t cooped up inside of a multiplex.


But now things are back to a new(er) normal meaning that the movie theaters are back to doing what they have been doing since movies had soundtracks. And since most folks are brave enough to venture out of their homes, they do want to see yet another action-adventure title that features a comic book superhero. Families and their settings want to see an animated feature that would be pleasing to both the younger and older groups. Teens and “young adults” desire to see a horror, sci-fi, or fantasy title as well. As for drawn out dramas? Not so much! Why? Because there are so many (some comment there are too many) streaming TV programs that are really great dramas that take more than a 100 or so minutes of time to unfold its story and the characters that go along with it. And all of this is being offered for the price of a movie ticket. Unlike a ticket where one can only see one movie for only the movie’s running time, a streaming service offers access for a whole calendar month 24/7!!


Yours truly has recently taken a back seat when it comes to watching a movie in the traditional sense. The only time where I have gone out of my way to watch movies in a theater with fellow strangers seated within a darkened auditorium is only for special occasions.

Recently, I attended the Turner Classic Film Festival that took place in Hollywood at the Chinese Theater as well as the Hollywood Legion Theater, located at the American Legion Post 43 “clubhouse”. The movies they ran were older titles ranging from E.T. The Extra Terrestrial (with cast and crew speaking before the film), to the premier of a 4K restored version of Giant starring Rock Hudson, Liz Taylor, and James Dean at their finest. There were other titles screened as well. (40th anniversary screenings of Annie, Diner, and even Fast Times at Ridgemount High, among other titles.) All of these movies were indeed crowd pleasers, proving that old movies do not die! They only get better with age!


So between now and the Labor Day weekend, we’re all going to the movies to see these releases the way they were meant to be seen. OK! You may not have a lot of original stuff to take a gander at. But if people want to see another super hero action pick, or a sequel to an existing movie, or even a remake of something that was already done with some change added, then so be it! And remember, these folks are paying for the privilege! They will get a tub of popcorn loaded with butter flavored goo along with all of the sugary sodas they could guzzle. If they are in the right theater, there’s even beer and wine to down for their thirsty throats! And yes, there may be a few folks that insist they talk during the movie or to play with their phone while the film is in progress. After all, they can do that while at home. So why not in a theater?

Call off this as just another Saturday night at the movies! Or Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesdays, or Thursday! And Fridays are when the new(er) stuff comes to a movie theater near you! (And hold the Jujubes please!!)
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The Gloria Gifford Conservatory of Hollywood presents WILLIAMS, WILLIAMS, & MILLER: AN EVENING OF ONE ACT PLAYS, a trio of short single act play written by Thomas “Tennessee” Williams and Jason Miller.

The first set consists of two plays by Williams: Twenty-Seven Wagons Full of Cotton finds Jake, a owner of a cotton gin, burning down the cotton mill owned by his rival Silva Vicarro. Silva attempts to enact his revenge by seducing Jake’s giddy wife Flora, who finds him rather appealing. The second play Moony’s Kid Don’t Cry, features Moony and Jane. Moony once worked as a lumberjack in Canada. Now he lives with his wife Jane and their babe in arms. Moony desires for something more than the life he leads living with Jane and child in a small shopworn apartment nearly down and out. The third and final entry is Jason Miller’s Lou Gehrig Did Not Die of Cancer, which is about Victor, a semi-pro baseball player who coaches for a local little league team on the side. His relationship with his wife Barbara is cooling off as she is more occupied with becoming an amateur actress. Victor receives contact with Helen, the mother of one of his little leaguers where he find her as more of a kindred spirit.

These single act plays written by Williams and Miller hold a range of a harmonious blend of a quest toward a better goal of one’s being, adding some humor and tragedy to its themes. The plays themselves may be simple in plot, but hold more content with its characters and dialogue. The first entry is loaded with the southern charm that Williams is known for. The second program shows its setting as one that desires a self improvement, and the final piece is more contemporary in nature, yet fits with its theme.

Gloria Gifford directs these three shorter plays that all ring true to its ideals and premises, using a rotating cast for each performance. In Twenty Seven Wagons.. Halle D’Allen appears as Jake, Dannielle Abraham Sanchez and Amber Dancy perform as Floria, with Chad Doreck and Kieth Walker as Silva. Moony’s Kid… stars Jade Ramirez, Joey Marie Urbina, and Dazelle Yvette as Jane, and Moony is played by Billy Budinich, Chris Jones, and Halle D’Alan. And in Lou Gehrig Did Not Die…. Danny Siegel and Billy Budinich appear as Victor, Keturah Hamilton and Evelyn Gonzalez are featured as Barbara, and Denisha Kain, Justine Estrada, and Teagan Wilson appear as Helen.

It’s been stated once before by a theater critic whose name is now long forgotten that short plays are the best route to go for experiencing live theater because they get to their point at a rapid pace. This quote does apply to these plays as such short pieces reach their climaxes in a shorter time frame, yet are rather hard to come by as a whole. And when one has an opportunity to see such theater pieces on the quick, it’s a real treat. And only Gloria Gifford can present these theater plays with a talented ensemble of performances that grace her stage.

WILLIAMS, WILLIAMS, & MILLER: AN EVENING OF ONE ACT PLAYS, presented by Jamaica Moon Productions and performs at the Gloria Gifford Conservatory, 6502 Santa Monica Blvd. (at Wilcox), Hollywood, until June 12th. Showtimes are Saturday nights at 8:00 PM, and Sunday evenings at 7:30 PM.

For ticket reservations and for more information, call (310) 366-5055, or online at

http://www.tix.com/ticket-sales/tix/497

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