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All-time favorite moviegoing experiences

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All-time favorite moviegoing experiences

Post  Iago on Thu Nov 03, 2011 2:53 pm

I published a note on Facebook about this that has started an interesting discussion. While you will not be able to follow that here, for those who are not on FB I will repost it here.




I had a conversation recently where I mentioned one of my favorite moviegoing experiences, and I started to think that it would make a fun "favorites" list. Favorite movie lists are a dime a dozen, but I have not seen one like this before. For the hardcore movie buff, moviegoing experiences are almost as interesting as the movies themselves.

These are in no particular order, other than the first one, which is the one that always stands out as the one that trumps all others for me. I am listing the titles first, then the location and the dates (some of them approximate) when I saw them:

1. Lawrence of Arabia (The Cooper Theater, St. Louis Park, MN; 1989). Seeing the restored version of this in 70mm at the Cooper was my proudest moment as a movie buff. Being able to see a classic like that, one of my ten favorite movies of all time, in my favorite theatre of all time? Priceless. Sadly, the Cooper is long gone, but my memories of it are not.

2. The Rocky Horror Picture Show (The Uptown Theatre, Minneapolis, MN; late Eighties). It is as true now as ever: you can never regain your virginity. Seeing the full production of Rocky Horror for the first time is an experience that cannot be repeated.

3. The Man with the Golden Gun (Excelsior theatre, Excelsior, MN; 1974). My father took me to my first Bond film at the ripe old age of seven. Apparently my parents decided at the time that I was young enough that I would not get the "naughty bits," because they did NOT let me see the next two Bond films after that. I have no real memories left of the actual experience, but it definitely started a lifetime of Bond fandom.

4. Star Wars (St. Louis Park Theatre; 1977). For my generation, a literal life-changing experience. I always liked movies, but seeing Star Wars turned me into a film student, starting with reading about special effects and of course expanding into learning about the whole process. We tried going opening night and all shows were sold out, so we went back a few days later. The line had already filled the lobby and spilled out the door, and minutes after we got in line it had already looped the building. (Sadly, this is another movie theatre in St. Louis Park that is no longer with us.) I had no idea what I was in for when the credits rolled.

5. 2001: A Space Odyssey (Heights Theatre, Columbia Heights, MN; early 2000s). I finally got to catch a 70mm print of my all-time favorite movie at the Heights Theatre -- the first time after dozens of viewings that I saw it on the big screen. Unfortunately, the screen at the Heights Theatre barely qualifies as "big," but the live organist playing before the movie began partially made up for it. (My parents got to see the original release in Cinerama at the Cooper; sadly, I was only a year old at the time.)

6. Godzilla vs. Megalon (Excelsior Theatre?; 1976). This is the only Showa-era Godzilla movie that I got to see in the theatre. My mother took me to see it, and slept through most of it, but thanks to her for the experience! It may be arguably the worst of the original series, but there was still an excitement to a new Godzilla movie back then that will never be repeated. (There was always a gut-level "thrill" at the start of a new Bond or Godzilla movie back in those days.)

7. The Abyss (Cooper Theatre; 1989). I actually saw this movie three times in one week at the Cooper. With the huge screen and powerful sound system, the feeling of being underwater was unmatched. The first time that I saw it, I simply watched the movie. The next two times, I watched the audience. During the "drowning" scene, the effect was so powerful that nearly everyone of the hundreds of people in the audience would slowly raise their necks as the water rose in the movie.

8. The Creature from the Black Lagoon/It Came from Outer Space/House of Wax/Andy Warhol's Frankenstein (Jerome Hill Theatre, Minneapolis, MN; late Eighties/early Nineties?). Film in the Cities hosted a 3D film festival at the Jerome Hill Theatre that gave me an opportunity to these classics in 3D on the big screen. Unfortunately, they only had anaglyph prints for the first two, but they showed the latter two with a genuine twin-projector polarized setup. For all the ink spilled over the current wave of 3D movies, those of us who have seen House of Wax exhibited that way can vouch for the fact that it is still the greatest 3D movie of all time.

9. Independence Day (White Bear Township Theatre, White Bear Lake, MN; 1996). I usually do not like "loud" or "raucus" audiences when I see a film, but I caught the opening midnight showing of this movie with a sold-out crowd of genre fanboys, and it was the perfect crowd for that movie. They cheered, jeered, applauded, shouted responses at the screen and generally had the time of their lives. It turned a mediocre-if-fun movie into a fantastic experience. I cannot even sit through the whole movie from start to finish anymore, but I will always fondly remember seeing it that time.

10. Jagged Edge (Har Mar Theatre, Roseville, MN; 1985). This was one of my only other favorite "interactive crowd" experiences. I was going to college in Roseville at the time, and did not have a car. One of my friends from high school would drive down and pick me up occasionally to see a movie, and she took me to a late-night showing of this at Har Mar. It was an audience entirely consisting of middle-aged couples, and they acted like a group of teenagers at a horror movie, shouting responses at the screen and really getting in to the experience. If it HAD been a group of teenagers, I probably would have been angry at them, but for some reason as a teenager myself it was fun watching people more than twice my age act like that. Their collective scream when the hand with the knife breaks through the window near the end of the film was the loudest that I have ever heard, even beating the screaming during the cheap twist at the end of Fatal Attraction.

THIS LIST GOES TO 11:

11. The Blair Witch Project (Kerasotes Theatre, Coon Rapids, MN; 1999). I will always have vivid memories of seeing this movie in the theatre for one reason. At the time, there were a lot of complaints about motion sickness due to the constant "shakey cam," and I thought those complaints were ridiculous until I saw it with my then-roommate. He did not make it until the end of the movie. Sadly for the Kerasotes staff, he also did not make it to the bathroom.
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Re: All-time favorite moviegoing experiences

Post  Seamaster on Thu Nov 03, 2011 9:00 pm

I'll play, but on another day when I'm not so tired.
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Re: All-time favorite moviegoing experiences

Post  Iago on Fri Nov 04, 2011 8:48 am

Well, get some sleep and get on it!
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Re: All-time favorite moviegoing experiences

Post  ethelred on Fri Nov 04, 2011 2:11 pm

My all time favorite is the first time I went to a drive-in theater with my girl friend.

Followed by the 2nd, 3rd, 4th and etc......time.
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Re: All-time favorite moviegoing experiences

Post  agent1a on Fri Nov 04, 2011 8:35 pm

Destroy All Monsters/Godzilla vs. Megalon Blu-rays Announced
this will be a good one to pick up !!

http://www.dreadcentral.com/news/45621/more-godzilla-vs-megalon-and-destroy-all-monsters-blu-ray

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Re: All-time favorite moviegoing experiences

Post  East on Fri Nov 04, 2011 9:40 pm

Nice list

the last decent movie I can recall seeing was conan the barbarian.
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Re: All-time favorite moviegoing experiences

Post  Iago on Sat Nov 05, 2011 9:20 am

Ethelred:

Methinks that it was not the movie that was going . . .



Agent: Criterion is releasing the original on Blu as well.



East:

Keep in mind that the point of the list was the experience, not the movie itself.
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Re: All-time favorite moviegoing experiences

Post  Seamaster on Wed Nov 16, 2011 9:59 am

The last 10 days have been hectic. I will play, and hope to have something together by tomorrow or Friday.
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Re: All-time favorite moviegoing experiences

Post  Iago on Wed Nov 16, 2011 10:51 am

You must play. Free will is an illusion.


I thought of another odd one: I saw the movie Working Girl at the Har Mar Theatre in 1988 with a friend whose sixteen year old daughter met us at the theatre. Not a terribly memorable experience per se, but while I cannot recollect even encountering her once afterwards until the year 2000, I ended up marrying her that year! So it was our first "date" and we did not even know it.
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