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Tuesday, September 13, 2005

A Voice From the Back Row

Movies. Movies. Movies. I grew up in darkened cinema houses around the country and can still recall exactly where I was when I saw certain films. Barbarella was at the El Portal in Las Vegas, Star Wars at the (then) Mann’s Chinese Theater in Los Angeles, Fame at the Music Box in Portland, Oregon. My life growing up was not marked so much by the events of the world around me but by the movie palaces that I called home two hours at a time.

For better or worse, the movie house is always a part of the film-going experience, and I have been lucky in the past few years to find the *perfect* venue for my celluloid addiction.

Every Friday I can be found in the same place, the top row, right side seat in one of the theaters at the Essex Outlet Cinemas. The managers, Dale and Karen Chapman, are a delightful couple that have turned what could easily be a lackluster experience into a treat. The popcorn is fresh (and there is an absolutely delicious cheese topping that makes it a scrumptious snack), the concessions are priced better than their competitors, the staff is friendly and they actually enjoy talking about movies. The theaters are clean, the screens large, the sound system amazing, and the seats as cushy and comfortable as any easy chair at home.

As for me, I will see just about any movie, regardless of the obvious stink factor. You know what that is. You can see it and feel it watching the trailer months before the film is actually released (or has escaped as sometimes seems more the case). Don’t get me wrong, I love good movies and I hope to recommend them to you, but I also know that even the trashiest of what is out there must have some following, some raison d’etre, or there would be no explanation for the $20 million opening weekend for Transporter 2. Was there even a Transporter 1? Turns out there is, but it doesn’t really matter. There are things about this one that people like and I think it is my job to guide you to whatever that might be in addition to pointing out the real diamonds that sometimes sneak in among the commercial onslaught of exploding planes and superheroes that routinely save the world.

I’m not going to give you spoilers (the trailers do enough of that these days), but I hope to maybe give you a laugh or two and let you know what I think. I’m not calling myself the expert but I do see about 300 films a year in the theater or at home, and I’d like to think my lowbrow tastes can spot a something worthwhile in most of what Hollywood grinds out. So, here we go...

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