The Midsommar 7.1 Earthquake

by MarkAz

The Arclight Pasadena is a nice place to see a movie. Unlike other chains, the Arclight theaters respect the movie and the paying customer. You’re not bombarded with thirty minutes of ads and promo pieces on movies or TV shows you have no interest in seeing. You’re not getting “interesting” two minute movies done by NYU film students that showcase Coca-Cola or Twizzlers. And you’re not getting fifteen trailers - although, I must admit, sometimes I’m okay with fifteen trailers. But that gild has come off the lily in a big way ever since we can watch any and every trailer imaginable online at any time. I digress - the Arclight shows one or two pertinent trailers and then they start the movie. An employee comes out before all of that and gives a quick intro. Nice touch.

So, Kathy, Burk, Chad and myself went to see Ari Aster’s Midsommar there last Friday night. Best seats in the house - popcorn and jordan almonds at the ready — let’s start this sucker. I’m immediately sucked into it. And then thirty minutes in, the Sensurround kicks in. Wow, the Arclight has really upped its game. I’m already freaked out and then we get this rumbling, wavy effect. And right after all the main characters took some mushrooms! Then Kathy and Burk look at me and I look back. “Whoa, I’m tripping!” I say. Kathy says, “I think this is an earthquake.” “Oh”.
People flee for the exits. The movie pauses, the lights come on. We stay put. Start the damned thing. Well no, we didn’t do that. We just waited for this impossibly long quake to end. And it did. But then what? Most of the people had left the theater to venture out into the lobby where there was a wall of glass monitors (smart move), while we stayed put. After a few minutes, one of the Arclight managers came in and told us that we’d start the movie in about five minutes once everyone had a chance to text/call/barf/etc. Nice touch. They had to stop all the movies - I think there are 16 screens there, to make sure everyone was safe. Five minutes later, they cranked it up again.

The rest of the movie was disorienting enough. Add in a 7.1 earthquake - the second earthquake in as many days, and the experience took on a surreal quality. WE LOVED IT. Very rarely do you get that experience at a theater anymore. But the stars aligned for us.

Glad, of course, that no one was seriously hurt anywhere and life went on for all. But it’s an Arclight experience we won’t forget. When Mr. Aster’s next film comes out, we’ll be waiting to see what other natural disaster tricks he has up his sleeve. I’ll make a note not to watch his next movie during hurricane season in the southeastern US. That’s a safe bet. Oh, check out the latest Cinemondo Podcast - we go in-depth into Midsommar and tell you why it’s so damned good.

-Mark Az

Jacob Pitts and our love of 1970s films

I’ve been in front of the old MacBook here for the last few minutes trying to figure out what I consider to be the very first “1970s movie”. I’m pretty confident I know which one was the last, but the first is tougher. Kubrick’s 2001? I say no only because it is a film that is such its own thing - nothing else out there quite like it - that I hesitate to put it in a particular category. Mel Stuart’s Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory? You laugh, but it was released in 1971, so there has to be something from 1969 or 1970 that beat it to the punch. Medium Cool? A good one - but that feels still more the 60s. So, I’m still searching.

But Kathy, Burk and their special guest, Jacob Pitts, chat all thiis and more on the latest Cinemondo extravaganza. Jacob is a huge fan of that decade in filmmaking and the crew really dive deep into their faves, and what makes a 70s film just that. In many ways, it was the golden age of filmmaking for my lifetime. After that decade, films became something else. Certainly, not necessarily better or worse, but just something else. The auteurs of the 70s — Malick, Cimino, Lumet, Scorsese, Coppola, etc — made the movies they wanted to make. That kind of stopped in the 1980s, except for the very biggest of the big (see S. Spielberg).

Jacob is a wonderful actor in his own right and you should check his work out - Justified, Eurotrip, The Pacific, Sneaky Pete. I’d like him to come in again so I get a chance to meet with him and tell him why I think the apex of 70s filmmaking is 1974’s Thunderbolt and Lightfoot, directed by Michael Cimino. Let’s hope that happens! - Mark Az

The Tour Hit a Snag

by Mark Az.

As you will find out, I’m not on the latest Cinemondo podcast. I have a side gig as a keyboard guitarist (I don’t go anywhere without my Casio DG1) for my punk band, REAR ATHIEST. We did a mini-west coast tour - Chula Vista, Downey, Barstow, Chino, Redding, Klamath Falls and Walla Walla. Everything was going great until we signed on to do an extra gig in rural Oregon. This place was in the middle of nowhere. We drove down dirt roads and came to a small compound just packed with skinheads and other rural white guys.

I thought the whole thing was odd when they wanted us to play a Saturday morning show, right after the Bugs Bunny/Road Runner Hour finished. I had no idea that thing was still on the air, but evidently they just have a VHS tape and play the same episode over and over again. it’s the one where Wile E Coyote is Sam and the dog that guards the sheep is Ralph and, well, never mind. They all laughed like they never saw it before. It IS funny. Anyway, they didn’t like our opening tune, a cover of LET’S ALL CHANT, by the Michael Zager Band, but they did get into the rest of our set - punk version of the entire eponymous MOLLY HATCHET album.

After the gig, something went down in the green room and it got ugly. But i can’t talk about that because of an ongoing investigation. But I’m back and ready to blab on mic about upcoming shows and movies. Do listen!
-Mark A

ps - I was really on vacation back east and my short film, BREATHE, won a best short film award at the inaugural Block Island FF. A really beautiful place filled with really nice people. It was a blast!!