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.