For some reason, it feels like I'm living in the movie Dazed and Confused. Part of it is because I'm in Austin, Texas, where Richard Linklater's coming-of-age classic was filmed, and trust me, the city looks exactly the way it did in the movie. It's very green and beautiful, with hazy red and blue sunsets, and lots of trees and pretty rivers.
But it's more than that. Linklater's movie had the feel of genuine indie film inspiration, and so does this city - nowhere more so than at its heralded Alamo Drafthouse theaters. You might have heard about the brand already, since it was voted the best movie theater in America by magazines like Entertainment Weekly, and sites like /Film. But whether you have or haven't, the Drafthouse and its founders - Tim League and his wife Karrie - do manage to create an experience that is worthy of that estimable reputation.
The reason the theaters are such a huge hit and one reason why Austin is now known as both a music and movie fan favorite is because the Leagues are truly passionate about this business. Special, one-of-a-kind movie-themed events are the norm at their theaters...stuff like tonight's "cinepocalypse" - a quadruple feature of movies from the action stars of The Expendables: Die Hard, I Come in Peace, Demolition Man, and as the early morning capper, an advance showing of The Expendables a week before its official release.
Folks like Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez are regular patrons of the Drafthouse Cinema, and also have supported the Alamo's annual Rolling Roadshow - a summer program of outdoor screenings of classic movies at their actual movie locations. Previous showings - to name just a few - have included Jaws at Martha's Vineyard, Close Encounters at Devil's Tower, Wyoming, The Lost Boys in Santa Cruz and Escape from Alcatraz on Alcatraz island. Tonight, they're screening Jackie Brown right oustide LAX.
Besides all the cool special events and the founders' clear love of cinema and cinema history, the theatrical experience at the Drafthouse theaters is really second to none. The way it's set up, moviegoers sit in large, comfy seats with tons of leg room, and benches set up in front of each row for food and drinks. Gourmet pizzas, tasty fish tacos, beers, wines and other delectable yummies (kudos for the pickles) - you name it, they serve it.
And I did actually see a movie on Day 92 in this special setting. Middle Men, starring Luke Wilson, James Caan, Giovanni Ribisi and others, is the tale of the birth of Internet porn as a business, and the dimwitted, shady, in-over-their-head entrepeneurs who took it on to its dubious next level. Think of it as Boogie Nights lite - an above average film for P.T. Anderson fans from a writer-director, George Gallo, who once penned the hugely funny buddy road movie Midnight Run. I liked the movie well enough. But I absolutely loved even more where I saw it.
Have you seen something at the Alamo Drafthouse? Share your own cool experience with the rest of the movie fans below. If you can't make it to Austin, the good news is that the Leagues could be bringing a Rolling Roadshow to your neighborhood movie location, and of course, there's always the hope for more Drafthouse theaters on the way.
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Of all the awesome aspects of seeing a movie at the Alamo, by far the best is that all talking and texting of any sort while the film is playing is ABSOLUTELY FORBIDDEN. This place is literally the only non-luxury theater in the country that actually gives half a damn whether its patrons actually have a positive experience.
My first true Austin experience was in the original drafthouse on Colorado (now located to Alamo Ritz on 6th). I remember being served a huge bucket of popcorn while my sister listed off the celebrities in the immediate vicinity: "There's Mike Judge, Richard Linklater. Oh that's Robert Rodriguez, Harry Knowles, and of course you know Quentin Tarantino."
I was wowed. But that feeling of high never diminishes. Clearly the biggest celebrity is Tim League himself, a true Austin entrepreneur.
Easily the greatest movie theater I've ever been to. A true movie going experience that all movie fans should experience. I saw (500) Days of Summer there with my wife over a bottle of wine and tasty food. They showed the usual trailers along with an 80's romantic comedy trailer -- keeping with the inspiration of the film. Great city, great atmosphere!
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