Cinema, Life

The Night I Watched Two Movies with Quentin Tarantino

New Beverly Cinema

September 5, 2013 – It was Noah Baumbach double feature night at the New Beverly Cinema*. In a heartbeat, I was there. Alone. Because the two friends who were supposed to meet me there backed out last minute (something about being tired and/or sick). Their loss, because the night I was about to experience would be one of the most memorable and special cinema-related moments in my life.

* The New Beverly is a historic theater located around where Hollywood and West Hollywood meet. It is known for its unique programming—almost exclusively double features, projected in 35mm film. When it faced possible closure in 2007, Quentin Tarantino bought the theater and promised: “As long as I’m alive, and as long as I’m rich, the New Beverly will be there showing double features in 35mm.”

I was second in line to enter and found a nice seat in the front row (my preferred seating for smaller screens). The theater filled behind me within the next several minutes and the film started. Sporadically, throughout the run of the first film (Frances Ha—which I’ll talk about in a bit), there was a piercing laughter coming from my left, a few rows behind. It sounded familiar but I didn’t think much of it because I was so engrossed in the movie (and in Greta Gerwig).

Frances Ha

The film ended and I stretched a little during the intermission. I thought I saw Quentin Tarantino—the familiar laughter slowly started to make sense. I did a double-take and it was him, sitting two rows behind me. What the what?

While living in Los Angeles and working in Hollywood, I’ve mostly gotten used to running into celebrities (many of whom I admire—some, not so much) and am pretty cool about it. But this was different. Watching movies with Quentin Tarantino (a film geek if there ever was one), in the theater he owns, and laughing at the same jokes? Wow.

While he was having an intense conversation with his friend about a movie I’ve never heard of, I considered asking him for a picture. I usually don’t, but the situation seemed appropriate. Luckily, the ladies sitting next to him asked before I could make up my mind. He declined because “I don’t take photos in the cinema.” He wasn’t being aloof. It sounded like his reply came from a place of reverence for the sacred place he considers the cinema.

The lights dimmed and the projector starting rolling again. Before the second movie (Greenberg—which I’ll also talk about in a bit), there were trailers for the upcoming Elmore Leonard double feature. Of course, the first half of the double feature was Tarantino’s own Jackie Brown. And, of course, he started chortling at the sound of his own voice reading the intro, “Pam Grier is…” That was priceless.

Greenberg

His distinct laughter continued throughout Greenberg and it was kind of distracting because I knew it was him this time around. I didn’t mind too much though because it was so damn amusing and because, unlike Frances Ha, I had seen Greenberg before. (It was my favorite movie of 2010.)

I guess one reason I love Greenberg–and now Frances Ha–so much is because both lead characters are oddly people I might have become if my life took one or two different turns. And because of that, the two films are so heart wrenching in many ways. Not in the usual sad or depressing sense, though they are both. But they ache because how real and close to my personal reality they seem.

There’s a shot toward the end of Greenberg (image above) in which Ben Stiller’s character, the eponymous Greenberg, leaves the party behind him and wanders off into the darkness. It’s too beautiful to be a void, but too dark and uncertain to be hopeful. He’s stuck as the light and darkness take turns painting over him. This isn’t unsimilar to how I see life (not necessarily my own, but in general). And while Frances Ha sings a similar tune, it does so with a much more buoyant spirit.

That may all seem a little gloomy on my part, but I don’t think it is. It is, however, a reason Frances’s friend Sophie might call me “undateable.”

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Life

TPSC

130930 TPSC

I’ve never been too fond of the phrase “second family” to describe a group of people you are very close to, but aren’t your actual family. Not because it diminishes the value of your biological family or anything like that, but because a lot of times these so-called second families are more a byproduct of circumstance and time rather than whatever makes a family, a family.

I started working as an intern at the Traveling Picture Show Company and TPSC Films soon after graduating college. One stroke of luck after another, here I am. It’s been 13 months since I’ve started and while I now have a fancy title (with various permutations), I still have so much to learn.

I’m still ambivalent about calling the wonderful collection of humans in this photo my second family, but they are the ones I spend most of my time with. They are the ones who make me laugh as much as my friends and help me grow as much as my family. They are the ones who showed me the ropes and continue to inspire me. They are the ones who help me realize how lucky I am at this point in my life.

Here’s to the many more to come. Cheers!

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“Inspiration”

Igor_Stravinsky,_New_York,_NY,_1946
Igor Stravinksy, 1946 by Arnold Newman

george 2003
George Lois, 2003 by Chris Buck

———

I haven’t shot anything noteworthy for the past year or so—and it sucks. So in order to decrease suck, I’m going to start shooting again. Simple.

No complaining about work taking most of my time, or about a lack of inspiration (as if looking at great photographs can somehow motivate you to create your own), or about why I “like” and not “love” photography (hahaha, stupid 18-year-old me).

Look out.

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A (Really Bad) 21st Century Love Story

120531 Lonelygirl

It was too fucking loud. You were dancing. I was… sitting. With my second drink in hand. They started playing Sweet Child o’ Mine and some Queen after a series of terrible music by LMFAO and other groups I didn’t care to identify.

You were the cutest girl I saw all night. I was… still sitting. Almost done with my drink—swirling around the ice, pretending to drink something that wasn’t just backwash and melted water, deciding whether I wanted to get the hell out of there or get another drink. Our eyes kept meeting and we took turns smiling. I ordered another drink.

I somehow ended up dancing next to you and then kind of with you. You got close and yelled into my ear, “so you do dance!” I yelled back with my hand shielding your ear from the music, “you call this dancing? I need a few more drinks.” But I was completely out of my element and no amount of anything would change that.

I went to sit and you joined me. We spent the rest of the night yelling some more into each other’s ears—cramming in as many words as we could during the quieter moments in between songs. We joked about being middle children, shared our appreciation for foreign cinema, and talked about things better suited for a coffee shop.

We had a longer-than-usual hug at the end of the night and you suggested we do something. I half-heartedly said sure but didn’t get your number or anything. I was glad that we had a good time and that was fine.

Out of curiosity, I looked you up on Facebook the next day. We had no mutual friends out of your 1719 and my 776, we both “liked” The Beatles, and three of my ten favorite films were under your favorites. But you had a photo album with 165 pictures of just yourself.

I did not send you a friend request.

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