Claremont Insider: At the Movies

Sunday, December 2, 2007

At the Movies

Daily Bulletin writer John Weeks had a column in Friday's paper critical of the Laemmle Claremont 5 theatres in the Claremont Village Expansion (née Village West).

Weeks' main complaint was that Laemmle wasn't showing enough art house films:

As the summer unfolded, Laemmle's Claremont 5 played host to the blockbuster "The Bourne Ultimatum" with Matt Damon for four weeks, the big-cast comedy "Death at a Funeral" for five weeks and such other Hollywood fare as "3:10 to Yuma," "The Nanny Diaries" and "The Brave One" with Jodie Foster.

Yes, there were little films, usually one a week, such as "Rocket Science," "Vanaja" and "The Rape of Europa." But many films that played at Laemmle theaters in Los Angeles and Orange counties never made it to Claremont at all, including "Manda Bala," winner of the Sundance Grand Jury Prize, and "Self-Medicated," winner of 39 international film awards.

Currently at Laemmle's Claremont 5, the lineup includes one art house offering, "Control," plus such big-studio releases as "August Rush," Before the Devil Knows You're Dead," "Lars and the Real Girl," "No Country for Old Men," "Love in the Time of Cholera" and "Dan in Real Life."

We noticed the same thing, though to be fair movies like first-time director Craig Gillespie's "Lars and the Real Girl" don't strike us as mainstream Hollywood films, unless there's a genre for movies about painfully introverted, lonely small-town Midwestern young men who fall in love with sex dolls named Bianca.

(By the way, we recommend "Lars," which not about sex at all; rather, it's really about hope, love and community.)

It's quite possible that our area just may not have the demographics to support more than one screen showing independent and foreign film. If Los Angeles is a tough market for art houses, which over the past 20 years have become increasingly rare, then the Inland Empire would .

One thing we did observe after going to the Claremont 5 a few weeks ago to see "Lars" was that the theatre we were in was very small. Most of the seats seemed too close to screen, and the screen itself seemed to fill up the entire wall edge-to-edge, so that it seemed too large for the space. If you weren't there early enough, you might not have gotten one of the 10 or 15 seats that were far enough back, and you'd have been looking up at Ryan Gosling's nosehairs.

We haven't noticed this problem at other Laemmle venues like the Pasadena Playhouse 7, so we have to assume it's a result of having to shoehorn in as many screens as possible into too small a space. This might be a problem in the long run for the Claremont Laemmle.

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The Village Expansion Plaza in front of the new Le Pain Quotidien bakery and the Claremont 5 was scheduled to open yesterday.

Also, yesterday was the unveiling of artist Christopher Irion's PhotoBooth community portrait project. The project was commissioned by the Claremont Museum of Art and is on display next to the Packing House parking structure on First St.

The installation is on display through at least January 1st.