When I first came to Harvard, I found myself homesick for something I never thought I would miss: the tacky movie theaters of South Florida. Nothing can compare to my local Muvico. Not only does it boast plush stadium seating, full course dinners at the concession stand, and 24 whopping wide screens, it is also completely designed in an Egyptian theme. You buy tickets from in-between sand colored pillars complete with “cracks,” you walk over a mosaic of blue tiles meant to represent the Nile, not to mention the fact that there are hieroglyphics painted everywhere you look. The armchairs lift up so you can snuggle with a date, or if you’re really tired, you can even watch a film sprawled out across a row.
So naturally, after I read about the opening of a new Loews theater in Boston Common, I immediately grabbed a friend and made my way down to Park Street. In overall structure, the new theater certainly hits much closer to home: There’s 19 huge theaters, posters of “classic” films on the walls and for those sad souls who decide to see Corky Romano this weekend, well, there’s also a bar on the second floor. But despite all its overall grandeur and luxury, the theater still evokes a hollow feeling. Like my pyramid of a theater back home, today’s cinematic megaplexes may be the epitome of comfort, but they lack the character of more traditional film houses.
I suppose what I really long for deep down are the movie palaces of old. The Regent, the Roxy; they certainly don’t build them like they used to. However, such classic movie palaces seem confined to an era when double features and newsreels unspooled continuously, and consumer culture was just latching its claws into the American public. Such theaters epitomize the elegance of the films of the past, and emphasize the poor quality of modern film. In that respect, today’s garish theaters are perfect dumping grounds for the latest Hollywood garbage. This past summer produced the worst selection of films ever projected on a screen, yet box office receipts broke monetary records anyway.
In light of recent events, Hollywood is allegedly viewing potential productions with a more discerning eye, as well as revamping its fall schedule. But during a time when more traditionally pretigious films are supposed to be released, there doesn’t seem to be an overwhelming number of award worthy films. One film, however, seems to aspire to return to nostalgic movie magic. As his follow-up to The Shawshank Redemption and The Green Mile, director Frank Darabont returns to a more classic era in The Majestic, his salute to Frank Capra and the movie palaces of old. I’ll be sure to see it away from home.