Thursday, May 25, 2006

I went to one of my favorite places last night: the New Beverly Cinema. You might think that the film capital of the known universe would be overrun with revival houses; in fact, there is one. It's kind of a dump, the restrooms are bad, the seats are too clase together, and the stuff on the walls is heavily tattered. The sound system and screen, though, are pretty good. And the movies are fantastic. In the next 10 days alone they will have double bills of Kubrick, Coen Bros., Robert Towne, Woody Allen, and a Marx Brothers triple bill. Each evening of movies is a mere $7. You could get a hell of a cinematic education just by going there for a couple of weeks. I don't know how much I'll get there this summer, but it will be as often as I can manage.

I only went for the second movie last night, The Last Waltz. If you ever wondered what a concert documentary by Martin Scorsese would look like, well, you don't have to wonder because he did one. What it looks like is most concert documentaries, although with some nice cinematographic flair and more backstory. The subject is The Band, and specifically their 1976 farewell concert after 16 years of touring. You get insights into the life of a successful rock band, along with the self-awareness that a life of touring wears heavily. You also get an amazing array of guest stars performing with them: Bob Dylan, Eric Clapton, Dr. John, Neil Young, Ringo Starr, Ron Wood, Neil Diamond, Van Morrison, Joni Mitchell, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, and Muddy Waters. Because the concert was held in 1976, you also get to see every single one of them with ridiculous haircuts and outfits--especially Van Morrison's life-changingly-bad Elvis jumpsuit thingy. You also get sights such as Neil Diamond awkwardly hugging Dr. John during the closing number. High comedy.

Mostly, though, you get The Band and its music. I'm not a huge fan, though I got into it as the movie went on. If you don't like their music, it would be a long 2 hours. Otherwise, it's probably worth checking out if any of this sounds interesting to you at all. Also, in the privacy of your home on DVD you won't have the weirdness of 25-33% of the audience breaking into applause at every song, while I muttered mostly to myself, "Um, they're not, um, here..."

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