Summer Classics; by Toddy Burton
Experiences, generally speaking, are more fun when shared. Fundamentally, the reason seems obvious: we’re all created in the image a triune God who exists in a constant state of relationship. So, no duh, of course we like to be with people. We’re all made to share life.
On a practical level, it’s nice to go to the movies with a friend. It’s fun having someone to turn to afterwards and say, "Wow, that was amazing," or, "Yikes, that blew, wanna grab some beers?" And, not to discount the latter (which can be great), but the former exchange is generally more fulfilling. Because if the movie’s good, if it’s really good, then it doesn’t just stop
with a shared joy. It extends to praise and to sharing that praise with friends and family. I frequently get so excited about some movie, that I want a friend to share in the experience just so we can sit down together and talk about how great the movie is. Case in point: I recently learned that two of my friends had never seen one of my favorite
movies ("Sullivan’s Travels," a Preston Sturges comedy from 1941 ).
I found myself looking at my friends with pleading eyes and saying,
"Will you please watch it? For me?"
Praise is not only a part of love, it is an inherent component in
the experience. In Reflections on the Psalms, C.S. Lewis writes,
"I think we delight to praise what we enjoy because the praise not
merely expresses but completes the enjoyment; it is its appointed
consummation. It is not out of compliment that lovers keep on telling
one another how beautiful they are; the delight is incomplete till it
is expressed. It is frustrating to have discovered a new author and
not to be able to tell anyone how good he is; to come suddenly, at the
turn of the road, upon some mountain valley of unexpected grandeur and
then to have to keep silent because the people with you care for it no
more than for a tin can in a ditch; to hear a good joke and find no
one to share it with."
He goes on:
"But how if one could really and fully praise even such things to
perfection — utterly ‘get out’ in poetry or music or paint the upsurge
of appreciation which almost bursts you? … If
it were possible for a created soul fully (I mean, up to the full
measure conceivable in a finite being) to ‘appreciate,’ that is to love
and delight in, the worthiest object of all, and simultaneously at
every moment to give this delight perfect expression, then that soul
would be in supreme beautitude. It is along these lines that I find it
easiest to understand the Christian doctrine that ‘Heaven’ is a state
in which angels now, and men hereafter, are perpetually employed in
praising God. … Fully to enjoy is to glorify."
The Paramount Theatre (Austin’s oldest surviving theatre, built in
1915) hosts a summer films series that is something I enjoy praising.
The films are well-programmed, the theatre is beautiful, and there’s
even a full bar (gin and tonic with that popcorn?). I present to you a
brief, slightly annotated list of the Paramount Summer Film Series.
Please double check schedule dates and times. I hope to see some of
you out there. It’s a great experience. Especially when shared.
** denotes a movie that I haven’t seen, but want to.
(Sun-Mon, Aug 3-4) Directed by one of my heroes, the Russian filmmaker
Andrei Tarkovsky. A devout Catholic, Tarkovksy made movies that are
confoundingly beautiful explorations into art, faith, and the human
experience. From Tarkovsky’s book, Sculpting in Time:
acts above all on the soul, shaping its spiritual structure… An
artist who has no faith is like a painter who was born blind… The
allotted function of art is not, as is often assumed, to put across
ideas, to propagate thoughts, to serve as example. The aim of art is
to prepare a person for death, to plough and harrow his soul, rendering
it capable of turning to good."
This 1972 Russian sci-fi masterpiece is simply not to be missed on the big screen.
Last Year at Marienbad (Thurs-Fri, Aug 7-8) You either love it or
hate it, this French film from 1961 is gorgeous, lyrical, and makes
little to no sense.
Children of Paradise (Sun, Aug 10) Made in France during the World
War II Nazi occupation, the film is considered a masterpiece on many
Diva (Mon-Tues, Aug 11-12) A French film from 1981, it’s reached a
kind of cult status and is visually rich with color and style. **
Diabolique (Thurs-Fri, Aug 14-15) From the Criterion Collection
website: An acknowledged influence on "Psycho,"… a horror classic. **
Knife in the Water (Thurs-Fri, Aug 14-15) From the Criterion Collection website: Roman Polanski’s first feature is a brilliant
psychological thriller that many critics still consider among his
greatest work. **
The Red Shoes (Sat-Sun, Aug 16-17) I’ve wanted to see this movie
for a long time and the opportunity to watch Technicolor on the big
screen is not to be missed. From the Criterion Collection website: A
glorious Technicolor epic that influenced generations of filmmakers,
artists, and aspiring ballerinas. **
(Tues-Thurs, Aug 19-21) Mel Brooks, Gene Wilder, Cleavon Little,
Harvey Kormon, Madeline Kahn. Comedy really doesn’t get much better
Destry Rides Again (Tues-Thurs, Aug 19-21) Jimmy Stewart and
Marlene Dietrich in a comedy/western from 1939 (the same year Stewart
starred in "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington" and "It’s a Wonderful Life"
— that guy was amazing). **
Baraka (Fri & Sat, Aug 22-23) No plot, just beautiful photography shot in 70mm. **
Vertigo (Sat-Sun, Aug 23-24) One of Hitchcock’s greatest movies and a rare treat to see projected in 70mm.
2001: A Space Odyssey (Tues-Thurs, Aug 26-28) Director and
co-writer Stanley Kubrick reinvents outer space with a jaw-dropping
visual style. Or as a former professor of mine in film school once
described it: "The most expensive experimental film ever produced."
Also in 70mm.
Gone with the Wind (Fri-Sun, Aug 29-31) Classic fun and nostalgia.
(That would be nostalgia for a childhood watching old movies and not
for the Antebellum South.)
The Bridge Over the River Kwai (Tues-Weds, Sept 2-3) One of my all
time favorite movies. This 1957 classic from epic director David Lean
pretty much has everything: an amazing story and a young Obi-Wan
Kenobi (that would be Sir Alec Guinness) in one of his greatest roles
Lawrence of Arabia (Thurs-Sun, Sept 4-7) Also directed by Lean,
this epic (also in 70mm and also with Sir Alec, not to mention a
brilliant performance by Peter O’Toole) is either breathtaking or
draining depending on your tolerance for the desert. For my money,
Anatomy of a Murder (Tues-Weds, Sept 9-10) More Jimmy Stewart.
Directed by Otto Preminger, it’s considered a forgotten classic.**
Rear Window (Thurs & Sat, Sept 11-13) Stewart again (that guy
really knew how to pick ’em). Reworked in 2007 for the teen set
starring Shia LaBeouf ("Disturbia"), this movie combines the gorgeous
Grace Kelly and Hitchcock’s phenomenal use of camera, character, and
story. What more could you ask for?
Tickets are $7 regular admission ($8 if the movie is in 70mm) and
for the truly committed, $45 will get you a book of 10 tickets which
can be shared among multiple people.