The Loft Cinema and Dunkirk
I saw Dunkirk Thursday evening at 7 p.m. at the Loft Cinema. We don’t do movies at Mark Rubin Writes, Father’s Day 2016, Raiders of the Lost Ark, and the Loft Cinema excepted. But I’m obliged to shout out for the Loft Cinema and independent theaters, and I have some thoughts about movie-watching.
Film—and, for now, I use that word most loosely—and my DNA don’t link up well. I watch almost no television. I never see more than one or two of the Best Picture Academy Award nominees, and a year having seen none happens. (Truth be told, in the last few years the show put on by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences can’t keep me engaged for even an hour or so.) As for just going to the movies, I’m not there often.
So, what? Well, two of the most important women in my life have been actively involved with independent, nonprofit theaters. For several years my best friend in college chaired the board of The Colonial in Bethlehem, New Hampshire. And my girlfriend has been the Loft Cinema’s board chair since 2015. Mary Lou and Leigh, through their leadership in connection with film, have bettered their communities, bigly.
The Loft Cinema in Tucson has operated as a nonprofit for almost 17 years, and had a long prior history. It’s located in a 50+ year-old, two screen building, with a third screen in an old garage, east of the main building. Recently, the Loft had a campaign to sell seats—the actual seats—which sold out. (The old seats sold out, too, and G-d bless anyone who bought one, for they surely weren’t made for sitting.) With the seat sale came a complete overhaul of Screen One. Great sound. Insulation. Clean drapes. Easier access. Better sight lines. Oh, and the seats have no lumps or bumps. Way cool!
So about Dunkirk and movie-watching. The Loft offers a 70mm showing, and if you get a chance to see anything in 70mm, see it! (Lawrence of Arabia is coming soon. Magnificent on 70mm film.) Majestic, grand, vivid, and in your face: Dunkirk on 70mm film offers a real movie experience!
Alas, I didn’t love the movie on Thursday. I knew the Dunkirk story, sort of. In mid-1940, nine or so months after Germany invaded Poland and started WWII, British and French troops ended up trapped in Dunkirk, 47 kilometers east of Calais. The Little Ships of Dunkirk—pleasure boats, captained by their owners—rescued more than 300,000 Allied troops. (Some big ships helped.)
I didn’t love the movie when I watched it for two reasons. First, drowning freaks me out. No need for explanations here, and I had a Duh! moment when I saw the first of many drownings. Beach rescue. Water. What am I doing here?
Second, I expected a more traditional film, with narration, context, and the like. I’d heard about the lack of dialogue, but the point didn’t register. Frankly, I tried to understand the story from my point of view, and failed.
Several post-film FB exchanges helped. (Tucson loves the Loft, so lots of people had plenty to say about the theater upgrades, the film, the experience, etc.) Then I read Christopher Nolan’s Wartime Epic, Anthony Lane’s New Yorker review. The review, along with the commentaries from my friends, provided the context I lacked.
I’m wrestling with the notion that I need a reviewer to help me understand what I saw. The process feels inauthentic, to say the least! On the other hand, I am a Left-Brainer, through and through. That, coupled with my theory about aging—qualities concentrate, and that’s putting it kindly—leaves me understanding, better, why I don’t do movies often.
Enlightened, I’ll see Dunkirk again. You should too! And if you support the Loft Cinema, cool. If you don’t check it out, for it’s a Tucson gem!