DID YOU READ

The Dead-Rat-Covered Truth About Movie Theater Nostalgia

The Dead-Rat-Covered Truth About Movie Theater Nostalgia (photo)

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The Internet is a dangerous, dangerous place. One minute you’re watching a heist movie on Netflix Watch Instantly, the next you’re looking up an actor’s name on IMDb, and before you know it you’re watching videos of actual robberies on YouTube, four and a half hours have gone by and you’ve watched exactly six minutes and seventeen seconds of that streaming movie.

On a recent journey down the Internet rabbit hole I randomly found my way to CinemaTreasures.org, a website founded by a filmmaker and a film historian in order to build a living history of every movie theater past and present in the United States. It’s a monumental but potentially invaluable website. And, for slightly more casual readers like myself, it’s a place readjust my nostalgic impressions about the movie theaters of my youth.

Personally I get almost as nostalgic about movie theaters as I do about movies themselves. Though I can’t remember the ending to the movie I saw on Tuesday (it was the one about the guy with that face who’s on that show…what’s his name?), I can still vividly recall where I saw the important movies of my childhood right down to my seat in the auditorium. Even as I do this I know: I am romanticizing these things to an insane degree. I wasn’t going to the classic movie palaces of Hollywood’s golden age; I was going to cruddy subdivided multiplexes in the ‘burbs in Jersey.

That’s one of the things I love about Cinema Treasures. Each theater’s page is devoted entirely to reader submissions. Most of these readers are employees of those theaters, often writing with lenses just a shade less rose-colored than mine. It’s hilarious to compare the beautiful images in my head with their unflinching accounts of reality. For example:


Movie City 5, East Brunswick, NJ
Nostalgic Recollections:Watching “UHF” with my mom and discovering Michael Richards before he became Kramer on “Seinfeld; paying for one movie and getting a free second feature (I remember it being “Flight of the Navigator” and “The Rescuers Down Under” but those movies were released so far apart that can’t be right); rounding up as many friends as could fit into two cars to go see Jean-Claude Van Damme’s “Street Fighter” for my 14th birthday party.

Unflinching Cinema Treasure Reality: “Where else could you earn $3.35 an hour, wear bad bowties, have an unlimited supply of Savor-All and be berated by management? Good memories include: cleaning garbage cans, disposing of rats falling from the ceiling tiles, breaking bon bon freezers and drinking in the storage room. Not a bad days work!” — Lateguy

Movie City 5 Is Now: a furniture store.


Loews Cinema 6, Freehold, NJ
Nostalgic Recollections: Seeing my first R-rated movie, “Terminator 2: Judgment Day;” watching “Being John Malkovich” there for the first time in a completely empty auditorium and feeling like I was discovering the greatest cinematic secret in the history of the world.

Unflinching Cinema Treasures Reality: “It really was a piece of crap. Started as one theater [then expanded]… you could see the break in sections between each duo of theaters and in horrible rain theose sections would leak. Amazing place.” — Dave B.

Loews Cinema 6 Is Now: a Work Out World gym.


Amboys Multiplex Cinemas, Sayreville, NJ
Nostalgic Recollections: Being awestruck by the sheer size of this 14-screen behemoth, the biggest in my area; taking raindy day camp trips to the theater and the neighboring arcade, Razzmatazz, for movies and games; going to Hulk Hogan’s “No Holds Barred” with my best friend and his father and loving it like I had loved no movie before.

Unflinching Cinema Treasures Reality: (Excerpted from Associated Press News Item) “Three police officers and one civilian were injured when violence erupted after a showing of the new drug-gang movie ‘New Jack City’ at the Amboy Multiplex Cinemas, police said…The incident began between 11 p.m. and 11:30 p.m. as a fight between two people in the theater lobby escalated into several other fights, and two trash dumpsters outside were set afire.” — sl

Unflinching Cinema Treasures Reality #2: “I have heard that the Amboy structure has been deemed uninhabitable. The structure was built on partial land-fill on the marshlands of the Raritan River. The ground beneath the foundation of the lobby and concession area had begun to collapse and make the building unstable.” — MovieManBill

Amboys Multiplex Cinemas is Now: an empty, abandoned building.


I included those where-are-they-nows? because whenever I pass these places, I think back with fondness about those old movie theaters. Reading Cinema Treasures, though, I see them for what they really were: strip mall dumps. They didn’t have stadium seating or digital sound. Literally any place I could see a movie today would look and sound better than it did back then. It’s easy to get lost in back-in-my-day, get-off-my-lawn-you-3D-loving-kids thinking. Once in a while it’s worth remembering that remembrances aren’t always perfect.

Bourne

Bourne to Run

10 Things You Didn’t Know About the Bourne Movies

Catch The Bourne Ultimatum this month on IFC.

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Photo Credit: Universal Pictures

You know his name, as the Super Bowl teaser for the upcoming summer blockbuster Jason Bourne reminded us. In this era of franchise films, that seems to be more than enough to get another entry in the now 15-year-old series greenlit. And gosh darn it if we aren’t into it. Before you catch The Bourne Ultimatum on IFC, here are some surprising facts about the Bourne movies that you may not know. And unlike Jason Bourne, try not to forget them.


10. Matt Damon was a long shot to play Jason Bourne.

Universal Pictures

Universal Pictures

Coming off of Good Will Hunting and The Legend of Bagger Vance, early ’00s Matt Damon didn’t exactly scream “ripped killing machine.” In fact, Brad Pitt, Russell Crowe and even Sylvester Stallone were all offered the part before it fell into the hands of the Boston boy made good. It was his enthusiasm for director Doug Liman’s more frenetic vision that ultimately helped land him the part.


9. Love interest Marie was almost played by Sarah Polley.

Universal Pictures

Universal Pictures

Damon wasn’t the only casting surprise. Franka Potente, of Run Lola Run fame, wasn’t the filmmaker’s first choice for the role or Marie in The Bourne Identity. In fact, Liman wanted his Go star Sarah Polley for the part, but she turned it down in favor of making indie movies back in Canada. A quick rewrite changed the character from American Marie Purcell to European Marie Helena Kreutz, and the rest is movie history.


8. Director Doug Liman was obsessed with the Bourne books.

Universal Picutres

Universal Pictures

Liman had long been a fan of the Bourne book series. When Warner Bros.’ rights to the books lapsed in the late ’90s, Liman flew himself to author Robert Ludlum’s Montana home, mere days after earning his pilot’s license. The author was so impressed with his passion for the material, he sold the rights on the spot.


7. Liman’s father actually worked for the NSA.

Universal Picutres

Universal Pictures

Part of Liman’s fasciation with the Bourne series was that his own father played the same spy craft games portrayed in the books while working for the NSA. In fact, many of the Treadstone details were taken from his father’s own exploits, and Chris Cooper’s character, Alex Conklin, was based on Oliver Stone, whom Arthur Liman famously cross examined as chief counsel of the Iran-Contra hearings.


6. Tony Gilroy threw the novel’s story out while writing The Bourne Identity.

Universal Picutres

Universal Picutres

Despite being based on a hit book, screenwriter Tony Gilroy, coming off of The Devil’s Advocate, had no idea how to adapt it into a movie. He said the book was more concerned with people “running to airports” than character, and would need a complete rewrite. Director Doug Liman agreed, and Gilroy claims to have condensed the original novel into the first five minutes. Getting that out of the way, he then wrote his own story, based on a man who wakes up one day not remembering anything but how to kill.


5. Damon walked like a boxer to get into character.

Universal Picutres

Universal Picutres

Damon had never played a character like Bourne before, and was searching for a way to capture his physicality. Doug Liman told him to walk like a boxer to give Jason Bourne an edge. Damon took that to heart, training for six months in boxing, marital arts and firearms.


4. Damon broke an actor’s nose.

Universal Pictures

Universal Pictures

Damon’s training for the films is legendary, but mistakes still happen. While filming a scene for The Bourne Ultimatum, Damon hit actor Tim Griffin so hard, he shattered his nose. Apparently, the space the scene was filmed in was smaller than originally intended, throwing Damon off just enough to exert a real beat down.


3. James Bond visited The Bourne Legacy set.

Eon Productions

Eon Productions

Actor Daniel Craig stopped by the set of The Bourne Legacy to visit his wife, actress Rachel Weisz, who was starring in the movie. While having James Bond on a Bourne set must have been exciting, The Bourne Legacy was the only Bourne movie to not actually feature Jason Bourne, meaning our bets on who would kick whose ass would have to wait for another day.


2. The Bourne Identity was nearly a bomb (in the box office sense).

Universal Pictures

Universal Pictures

As reshoots began to pile up, and an all-out war between the studio and director Doug Liman spilled into the press, expectations were that The Bourne Identity was going to flop. Matt Damon told GQ that, “the word on Bourne was that it was supposed to be a turkey…It’s very rare that a movie comes out a year late, has four rounds of reshoots, and it’s good.”


1. Matt Damon wasn’t the first actor to play Bourne.

Warner Brothers Television

Warner Brothers Television

Aired on ABC in 1988, the TV movie adaptation of The Bourne Identity, while not exactly critically acclaimed, was a more faithful version of Ludlum’s book. Richard Chamberlain, of The Thorn Birds fame, played a much less ass-kicking spy, while “Charlie’s Angel” Jaclyn Smith played love interest Marie. If you like your Bourne movies heavy with poorly lit ’80s melodrama, this might just be the adaptation for you. Otherwise, you should catch The Bourne Ultimatum when it airs this month on IFC.

Season 6, Episode 2: Going Grey

Munici-Pals

10 Best Pop Culture Mayors

Catch Kyle MacLachlan on an all-new Portlandia this Thursday, Feb. 4th at 10P.

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Fictional municipalities are rarely clockwork operations. There wouldn’t be much of a story if local governments were run with lockstep efficiency, and the source of the dysfunction and bureaucratic mismanagement usually falls to the very top: The Mayor. Even with the best of intentions and the noblest of corruption, the administrations of fictional mayors tend to be unconventional at best and disastrous at worst. But no matter what, they’re always pretty funny.

To celebrate Kyle MacLachlan‘s ever chipper mayor returning to Portlandia this Thursday at 10P on IFC, check out 10 pop culture mayors that gave us multiple terms of hilarity. (Click here to find IFC on TV in your area.)

1. Mayor of Portland, Portlandia 

Keep it weird

Laid back (not counting the exercise ball) and diligent (not counting the “real roots reggae” band), Portland’s fictional mayor is the absolute ideal in “dream of the ’90s” leadership. Hands-on, idealistic, and ably assisted by real-life Portland mayor Sam Adams, he is the only candidate to keep the largest city in Oregon weird in a way that’s totally different from Austin. (Check out behind-the-scenes Portlandia photos and anecdotes from Kyle McLachlan’s Instagram takeover.)


2. Mayor “Diamond” Joe Quimby, The Simpsons

If you ever wondered how far a suitcase full of money could get you in politics, look no further than the man in charge of Springfield, USA. There’s nobody who isn’t in the mayor’s pocket (and vice versa) and no good-lookin’ broad who doesn’t have his hotel key. But incumbency is always a lock thanks to the low-information voter, i.e. every single Springfieldian, and what can’t be excused can be defended with something as simple as “I didn’t do it.”


3. Mayor Goldie Wilson, Back to the Future

It’s rare to actually witness first-hand the humble beginnings of an elected official. Tales of blue-collar origins and “common man” rhetoric come cheap, so it’s always refreshing to see a young, starry-eyed go-getter rise from sweeping the floors to cleaning up the town. And to think, it all stemmed from a casual comment from your average, everyday time traveler.


4. The Mayor of Jefferton, Tom Goes to the Mayor

Tim Heidecker and Eric Wareheim quickly established their acid-trip sensibilities with the Adult Swim series Tom Goes to the Mayor. Heidecker plays community-minded citizen Tom who attempts to corral Wareheim’s clinically insane mayor but typically winds up bruised and defeated in the process. Actual government work is entirely incidental.


5. Mayor Lenny, Ghostbusters movies

Trying to fill the big shoes left behind by Fiorello H. La Guardia — and occasionally chatting with his ghost — scrappy New York mayor and man of the people Lenny (his only identifier) is an open-minded leader who will listen to and healthily fund paranormal exterminators for the good of the island and its people. And any genitally-impaired suit from the EPA won’t stand in his way. (Click here to check future airings of Ghostbusters and Ghostbusters II on IFC.)


6. Mayor Adam West, Family Guy

Speaking of clinically insane mayors, mellifluous actor Adam West plays a crackpot alternate version of himself as the mayor of Quahog, Rhode Island. His administration is teeming with conspiracy (he’s convinced someone is stealing his plant’s water), paranoia (he’s cemented coffins shut as a sure-fire prevention against zombies), and flat-out insanity (he’s entered into matrimony with his own hand).


7. Mayor Clarence Royce, The Wire

The lying, cheating, backstabbing snake of a mayor Clarence Royce is the grinning embodiment of institutional failure, so it’s always a delight to see the system bite him in the ass. And much to the credit to actor Glynn Turman, his fall from backroom puppet master to ousted primary candidate is filled with schadenfreude hilarity — especially when he tries to cover it with that mile-wide smile.


8. Mayor of Townsville, Powerpuff Girls

Consistently demolished due to wanton superhero destruction, the city of Townsville is in desperate need of strong, determined leadership. Unfortunately, they’ve elected a dimwitted, diminutive worrywart mayor whose panicky bewilderment puts the entire community at risk. If it weren’t for the cogent and level-headed assistance of Ms. Sara Bellum, the city would be in peril even more often than it is.


9. Mayor Richard Wilkins III, Buffy the Vampire Slayer

In a town filled with demons, goblins, and vampires, one can’t provide effective authority without some shape-shifting powers of his own. Such is the case with Sunnydale mayor Richard Wilkins III, a centuries-old sorcerer who is hell-bent (heh) on becoming an immortal purebred demon — all while maintaining the image of a conservative, family-values politician. Which is perhaps the most realistic version of a politician in this list.


10. Mayor McCheese, McDonaldland

Glorified figurehead Mayor McCheese governs McDonaldland practically by proxy. Citizens have long known — and visitors quickly come to find — that frantic clown Ronald McDonald is the sole public figure who brings the town together and makes it run smoothly (with the exception of the rampant hamburglary). Suffering through term after term of that loopy Ed Wynn-inspired voice, McDonaldland deserves a leader that isn’t half-morphed into a second-rate menu item.

Meet Austin’s mayor on this week’s brand-new Portlandia, Thursday at 10P on IFC.

Adam Sandler Billy Madison

Sandler-verse

Here’s How Every Adam Sandler Movie Is Connected

Catch Billy Madison this month on IFC.

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When you hear “Adam Sandler movie,” a few things come to mind — none of which would be “taut and complex continuity.” But thanks to the keen eye of YouTuber Shawn Kohne, advanced film theory has a new course. Kohne walks us (it’s more of a frantic gallop, really) through his conspiratorial wall graph which connects Sandler flicks like a frat boy Warren Commission. Using recurring characters, company names, and catchphrases throughout Sandler movies, ol’ Happy Madison seems to have constructed a shared universe (or Sandlerverse) on par with Tarantino. Of course the Red Apple cigarette pack here would be a schlubby Cajun townie shouting, “You can do it!”

Check out this eye-opening theory on the Adam Sandler movie shared universe in the video below, and be sure to catch Billy Madison this month on IFC.

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