Tuesday, January 18, 2011

New Beverly Cinema: They Got it Wright

I have had a lot of amazing movie experiences over the years, whether it's been standing in line for midnight showings of "Star Wars" or "Harry Potter," or getting to see classic films on the big screen, like "How the West was Won" in actual Cinerama format or "North by Northwest" at the famous Grauman's Chinese Theater.  But this past weekend, I had one of the best cinematic experiences I have ever had, and I didn't even except it.  This past Saturday I got to watch a triple feature of "Shaun of the Dead" (2004), "Hot Fuzz" (2007), and one of my favorite films of last year "Scott Pilgrim vs. the World" at the wonderful New Beverly Cinema, with director Edgar Wright and stars in person!

The New Beverly is this wonderful, old revival theater here in Los Angeles.  Built back in the 1920s as a vaudeville theater, it has seen quite a few changes over the years, from nightclub to foreign movie house to porn house.  Finally in 1978, a man by the name of Sherman Torgan purchased the place and converted it into a revival theater showing double features of classic, foreign and independent films.  He ran the place until 2007 when, sadly, he passed away.  His family has kept the theater going, but in 2010, hard times hit, and the theater was almost sold to Super Cuts, of all places.  Luckily Quentin Tarantino, a longtime beneficiary of the New Beverly decided to buy it full out.  The Torgan family still runs the theater while Tarantino just steps in every once in a while to do his own programming.

Back in 2007 though, the New Beverly started a guest programmer series, and Edgar Wright (director of the triple feature that night) was the first to participate.  This year he's back for his second stint as guest programmer, and he started the two-week funfest off with his own films.  He had promised some very special guests would be helping him introduce the films, and we all thought that would mean Simon Pegg, star of "Shaun" and "Fuzz."  Unfortunately Pegg had tweeted earlier that he was sorry but he wouldn't be able to make it.  So, with Lucy Davis (one of Pegg's costars in "Shaun" and star of the original BBC version of "The Office") at his side introducing the first film, Wright decided to call Pegg in Canada.  Well, it was all a fake.  A phone suddenly rang backstage and out walked Pegg himself!  Ah, social media...so many more ways to psyche the public out.  Pegg and Wright stayed through the night, introducing each film and answering questions from the audience.  Pegg even stuck around to help the cast members of "Scott Pilgrim" - Mae Whitman, Mark Webber, Johnny Simmons, Anna Kendrick, Brie Larson, Michael Bacall, and Brandon Routh (who, in person, totally looks like Superman...I mean...wow!) - with their Q&A.

And not only were all the above mentioned stars in attendance, but some other big names had attended just for the show, like Jason Ritter, Seth Green, and Tarantino himself, just quietly sitting in the back row.  He had even selected the amazing vintage trailers that opened each film.  That's right!  Not only did we get to see three very funny films, plus Q&A's with some of the stars, but we also got some amazing, crazy, original 35mm print trailers to set the mood.  "Shaun" started out with trailers such as "Carrie" (1976), "Modern Problems" (1981), "Groundhog Day" (1993), "The Man with Two Brains" (1983), and Pegg's new film "Paul."  "Hot Fuzz" was proceeded by "48 Hrs." (1982), "Electra Glide in Blue" (1973) ("A 5'4" cop in a 6'2" world"...seriously, that's the tagline), "Fuzz" (1972), "Nighthawks" (1981), and "Super Cops" (1974) to name a few.  And finally "Scott Pilgrim," starting at 1 o'clock in the morning, had trailers for "Zabriskie Point" (1970), "A Clockwork Orange" (1971), "Candy" (1968) (a crazy mindtrip with Marlon Brando, Richard Burton, Lee Marvin, Peter O'Toole, even Ringo Starr!), "Fight Club" (1999), and "The Blues Brothers" to start it off.

It was a long...long night but it was worth every bit of it.  It was hilarious, fun, and perfect for the geek in me.  If you have a chance, try and catch some of the rest of the double features during "The Wright Stuff II" fest.  You won't regret it (and they are only $7 for an entire night).  Wright has chosen a great line up that is going until the end of January.  Have a great week, everyone!  Be back Friday.

(Post-tidbit:  Pegg and Wright said that "Shaun" was kind of a twisted love story to London for them.  They even shot much of the movie around the neighborhood they both still live in.)

1 comment:

  1. YEAH!! The Wright Stuff was awesome! Can't wait to see more.