Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Arclight jumping the shark?

Saw Kong last night, which is not the point of this post... but in brief: easily one hour two long, a structural mess, but some outstanding actions sequences made it worthwhile.

Now, onto my newest critique of the Arclight. I point this out not to dissuade anyone from heading over to what I still feel is the greatest theatre ever (the Mann Village remains the greatest) so much as an open complaint letter.

Here's what happened: I'd purchased my tickets weeks ago for the midnight screening of Kong at the Arclight Cinerama Dome. The show filled up very quickly. I think it could be said that almost all of the people who purchased tickets for the event are frequent Arclight patrons.

I wanted to arrive 30 minutes early to allow time for concessions. Besides, since I was going with a group of friends if we had some time to kill and chat, I didn't think anyone would mind.

Alas, the concession line alone did take about twenty minutes. Completely unnecessary. It appeared they had an undertrained holiday staff on deck that night for a sold out show.

Thats gripe #1. Its petty, boring, and since I knew it would happen can't complain too much. Whatever. Now for #2:

On our way into our seats we see there's a line. The ushers are telling people how to find their seats, causing a backup. As I pointed out, most of the people attending that night have been to the Arclight before. Additionally, they've already seen their seat locations online or when they bought their tickets. So, another five minutes killed, waiting for everyone to be told what people at every other screening can usually figure out on their own. While I understand that its nice to have ushers on hand to help people who appear lost or have a question, I saw most people were genuinely annoyed with being directed to their seats.

Again, who cares.

#3. For the last few years, when freelancing has been particularly slow I've always considered working at the Arclight, but only if I could "present" the show. Before every screening an Arclight usher walks in front of the audience, asks everyone to turn off their cel phones, lets everyone know that they'll be standing by to make sure picture and sound quality are okay, and occassionally to mention any upcoming Arclight events. Some of these guys are brief, some guys are hilarious. But when they're longwinded and just plain annoying, thats when I figure I could do the job as well. So, the usher comes out before Kong and gives the 'ol "Welcome Ladies and Gentleman" in a deep, game show emcee voice, before introducing himself as not only an usher, but one of the guys who started Whoop-dee-do. He also said he had a special message from Peter Jackson just for us (golly!)... after droning on about how exciting his website is, he finally shared with us the message -- that he said was straight from Peter Jacksons mouth to our ears (even though it was typed via internet chat, and repeated by this schmo)... and the messages was "Enjoy the movie!" It may as well have been, "Enjoy your Ovaltine." Nothing that the audience benefited from, such as "I shagged Naomi Watts during the shoot" or "my next project will be 'The Hobbit'". And then to end things on a low note, he finished by saying "And without further ado, here's King Kong!" Which was followed by about ten minutes of trailers for upcoming movies... and then King Kong hit the screen.

Finally, #4: I logged onto the Arclight site, always a technical disaster, to see if any other special screenings had been announced when I saw a message that, fortunately, doesn't pertain to me. It reads:

If you purchased (King Kong) tickets prior to 12/6 for a Dome show Wednesday through Sunday, 12/14 -12/18, note that due to the film's length, several show times have been changed. For each of the days, the 12noon show has been moved to 11am, the 3:30pm show to 3:00pm and the 10:30pm to 10:55pm. Your tickets and seat assignments have NOT changed (and the 7pm show time has not changed). Please just arrive according to the new show schedule and your original tickets will be honored.

I wonder how many people are showing up today, one hour after start time, who didn't get this update? Sloppy, sloppy, sloppy.


On a happier note, I should point out that on Monday night I was able to see a screening of "Good Night, and Good Luck" at the Arclight with a Q&A afterwards with some of the cast and crew, including George Clooney, David Straitharn, and Frank Vangella. It was free. On the way I strolled past Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez as they were about to enter a press screening for "Hostel" produced by QT. And next Monday and Tuesday I'll be seeing "The New World" and "Munich"... free again, with Q&As after.