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« The Inefficient Filmmakers Guide to Making a Movie in Six Years | Main | What I Learned From Paul Rudd (& Other Cool People) »
Tuesday
May052015

What I Saw | Where I Saw It | Why I Loved It

One of our favorite rising actors, David Dastmalchian, is Guest Blogging! Learn his name. He's working with great people -Editor

Photo by Evelyn Leigh"What I Saw..."
-by David Dastmalchian

There are so many films that have a special place in my memory and their impact on my life was made all the more powerful by how and where I saw them.  My earliest memories of film-going are the Kansas City drive-in’s where I caught second-run screenings from the back of my folks old station wagon of Grease, James Bond flicks like View from a Kill and Moonraker, and being in my mom’s arms at the back of the theater at a matinee with my family of Raiders of the Lost Ark.  I thought the tarantulas in the opening sequence were climbing the walls of the theater… Here are a few spectacular memories that I will always treasure: 

What I Saw: THE MUPPET MOVIE
Where I Saw It: The Oak Park Mall Cinemas (KS)


This will remain one of the most profound movie-going experiences of my life.  The characters, colors, sounds, music, performances all exploded in front of my little face on the big screen as I sat enraptured beside my childhood buddy, Brian Bishop and his wonderful mother, Kathy.  We went to a matinee at the local cinema and this was one of my first ventures into an actual movie theater.  At that point in my development, the whole “suspension of disbelief” in my imagination was so strong that I believed wholeheartedly that ‘Sweetums’ the monster Muppet actually crashed through the screen in our theater auditorium at the end of the film.  For years I would proudly boast that I had seen the film in a theater where a REAL Muppet made an appearance.  The “Rainbow Connection” became my first on-stage performance in a preschool talent show and my wife even chose the song for her processional at our wedding.   The effect of this film on my life continues to this day.  Several times a year (especially in moments of disillusionment with the entertainment industry), I will watch the final five minutes of the film – from the moment that Orson Welles offers Kermit “The Rich and Famous Contract” through the end.  Go do this now.  Bring the Kleenex.  You’re welcome. 

Continue for three more favorite films


What I watched: A CLOCKWORK ORANGE
Where I saw it: MY MOM’S BASEMENT (KS)  

I was in ninth or tenth grade and hanging out as I did every Friday night with my best pal, Steve.  We were in my mom’s basement and we may or may not have imbibed some form of perception-altering something-or-other.  We sat glued to the screen as Kubrick’s bleak, beautiful dystopian opera came to Technicolor life in front of our unprepared eyes.  The combination of the film, the chemicals churning through our brains and the sounds of the old house creaking around us led us into a mind-melt from which I have probably never fully returned – and gladly so.  It was in that same little refinished basement in Kansas that Steve and I watched so many classic Hammer, Castle and Universal horror films on Crematia Mortem’s "Friday Fright Night".  I was smitten. 

What I watched: THE TINGLER
Where I watched it: THE CINEFAMILY (Los Angeles)

When I first arrived in LA in 2010, I was skeptical to say the least.  Thank goodness for the great comrades who turned me on to the many mysterious facets of this strange and wonderful city, such as the easy-to-miss Museum of Jurassic Technology in Culver City or the cradle of classic, art-house and underground cinema, The Cinefamily, in the old Silent Film Theater on Fairfax.  I wandered in to see the mad, hilarious ‘Daisies’ from Vera Chytilova.  I’ve been a regular patron ever since.  As a long-time fan of the classic William Castle ‘event’ picture, The Tingler (starring one of my heroes, Vincent Price), I was ecstatic, though not surprised, to learn that The Cinefamily organizes an annual screening of the film with all of Castle’s original theatrics.  There is an official warning before the film, medical staff on stand-by in case of cardiac or other terror-induced ailments and… the actual electric “Tinglers” attached to random seats in the theater, which are activated when the nemesis of the film escapes.  I sat anxiously the entire film, feeling as if I’d been transported back to the 50’s – and was so thrilled to discover that MY seat was one of the rigged seats.  It was a life-long dream come true to scream in terror in that sold-out house. 

(The truth is – this list could go on and on just on my Cinefamily experiences alone:  Seeing ‘Slacker’ with Richard Linklater in the house, attending the Miranda July collection of short films and discussions, my introduction to the work of Shion Sono (‘Love Exposure’), seeing ‘Last Days Here’ (with Bobby Liebling present!) and on and on…..

What I watched: HAROLD AND MAUDE
Where I watched it: ‘Bryant Park Outdoor Films’ (NYC)
 

I only lived in NYC for about a year but I have so many incredible memories of seeing films there – Antichrist at The IFC, The Collapse at The Angelika, Black Orpheus in a small Midtown auditorium… but seeing one of my favorite films, the Hal Ashby classic Harold and Maude in the open air of Bryant Park surrounded by my life-long and new friends was unforgettable.  The sound was awful (we recited our own dialogue since we’ve had the film memorized since high school) and there were people talking all around us.  It didn’t really matter, though.  Seeing Bud Cort and Ruth Gordon fall in love amidst the late-summer atmosphere of New York at dusk was well worth it.  And when Cat Steven’s ‘Trouble’ came piping through the speakers during the finale, my cohorts and I sat rapt and teary as we had the previous hundred viewings across our lives.

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Reader Comments (11)

This Sweetums story made my heart burst. I was so obsessed with that movie as a kid too. I weep for children who don't have the muppets growing up in that weird period where they weren't around.

May 5, 2015 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

Dear David, thanks for sharing your film experiences with us. You are on the right track for a great career, which I deeply wish.

May 5, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterJo

So glad to see a Cinefamily shoutout! I've never gotten to see The Tingler there, but I have seen a lot of other challenging/fun/strange movies at that little theater on Fairfax. Great post!

May 5, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterAnne Marie

David, you have just done a number on me by associating The Tingler (which I saw as a kid on TV - my sister can still freak me out by bringing that night up) with the Silent Movie Theatre, where I did a live performance with two amazing sound and video artists a couple of years ago. The Tingler....I'm scared, I'm scared.

May 5, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterPaul Outlaw

Great post. Thank you.

May 5, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterHenry

Man, I really want to see "The Tingler" at the Cinefamily now! Thanks for sharing these experiences. Wonderful post!

May 5, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterCameron

I'm totally seeking that place out next time I'm in LA

but i can't bring myself to watch movies outdoors in Bryant Park. The claustrophia of all those people!

May 5, 2015 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

I've been staying more or less put in LA for years now, and I'm ashamed to say I've still never been to the Cinefamily.. I should really fix that! I have, though, been to the weird and wonderful Museum of Jurassic Technology.

I love this list! Where one sees a movie really does have so much impact, and all those idiosyncratic small theaters deserve to stay in business, shaping the movie love of more to come

May 5, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterMargaret

Harold and Maude. ::::sigh::::

What a great list!

May 5, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterDeborah Lipp

Seeing movies outside here in NYC is both magical and trying; my favorite experience has been seeing MANHATTAN screened in Central Park mostly because it just added an extra layer of meta-ness to the entire experience.

Also, now I need to watch The Muppets film AGAIN. And play Rainbow Connection on loop AGAIN.

May 5, 2015 | Registered CommenterManuel Betancourt

Great post. amazing information.
thank you for sharing.

June 3, 2015 | Unregistered Commenterpoonam

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