Wednesday, February 7, 2007

Movie Chat: Double Features

This post at The House Next Door got me thinking about the worst double feature I ever attended.

I had always wanted to see Irvin Kershner's Loving, which, though available now on DVD, used to be really hard to find. I was pretty excited when I saw that the Film Forum was showing it as part of their American New Wave, Late 60s, early 70s series (this was back in 1996). It was the second movie of a double bill with another George Segal movie from 1970, Where's Poppa? I'm a big George Segal fan, so I was happy to see both of them, both for the first time.

Now, I liked Where's Poppa? a lot: it was funny and raunchy and had no sense of good tatse to get in the way of the fun. The crowd liked it, too. The problem was, they liked it so much and had such a good time at it, that, when Loving came on after a 10 minute break, they were still in the mood for laughs. They seemed tone deaf to Loving's minor key melancholy and, instead, they treated it as camp.

The problem is that the costumes and sets of Loving did look funny to a 1990s audience - mainly because they're so late-60s/early-70s. But the movie itself is serious and weighty. An audience that hadn't been revved up by Where's Poppa?, but instead had been treated to an even bigger downer of a movie like Born to Win, might have gotten onto its wavelength after a few titters at the actors' haridos.

Although maybe not. In my experience, Film Forum revivals tend to have the worst audiences in New York City. I mean, audiences for horror movies on 86th St. will be rowdier and louder, but that's what you'd expect for horror movies, which attract a lot of teens out looking for a good time. But you might think that someone going to the Film Forum to see Loving or Rio Bravo or Sunrise would be enough of a film buff to know how to behave at a theater. But these revivals end up attracting:

  • (a) Hipsters who think it is so funny that in, say, Rio Bravo, John Wayne talks so much like someone doing a John Wayne impression, that they laugh every time he opens his mouth.
  • (b) People who watch old movies for primarily campy pleasures, so they end up treating any old movie as if it were a camp experience.

Because (1) I've seen enough old movies that it isn't a novel, alien experience, (2) I generally take these movies fairly seriously (or, at least, I try to meet them on their own terms), and (3) my approach towards movie appreciation is almost always non-ironic, I get annoyed pretty quickly when the folks around me respond as if everything on the screen is there for their detatched, knowing, amusement.

Oh, my dream double bill would be two by Floyd Mutrux: Dusty and Sweets McGee (because I've never seen it) and Aloha, Bobby and Rose, because I never get tired of seeing it and I missed it the last time it was playing at the Film Forum.

No comments: