We Go to the Movies

12/16/12 I don’t know what it is about winter vacation, but Howard, who does not love going to the movies the way I do, suddenly agrees to see almost anything I suggest. Blame our sudden film buff frenzy on ease of access. When we’re at our house in Chatham getting to the movie theater seems less difficult than it does in New York City, though in actuality, that’s not true. In the city, we can walk to many movie theaters. Here we have to drive. But the ticket prices outside of the city are certainly cheaper. And except for Christmas Day or the opening of a blockbuster new film, we can be pretty sure of getting tickets right before the show. If we want to see a movie in New York City on a Saturday night, we have to make sure we have bought tickets (over the Internet these days or even with a phone app) by 10 a.m. that morning.

Part of the charm of going to the movies in Chatham, NY is the Crandell movie theater, a relic from the old days of small town theaters. Though the place was fairly decrepit from the first time we went there over 20 years ago, the price was right: I believe in 1995 or so adult tickets were $3.50. They now cost $6. Also, we just drive into town a few minutes before the movie starts, and go to the window, and slip our money into the till. They show a lot of junk — they need to make a profit. But most of the really good films play there also. It’s mostly a matter of being upstate (and being free) the same weekend there’s a movie we want to see.

A few years ago, the owner died suddenly, intestate, and the theater closed for several months while the family negotiated with Chatham Film Club. Backers like the Ellsworth Kelly Foundation (yeah, famous artists can be community minded) put together enough cash to buy the building. Local businesses have provided fuel, paint, and workers. The seats have been replaced, and the whole place feels spruced up.

Originally built as a Vaudeville venue, the Crandell has a 13 foot deep stage, dressing rooms (!), organ lofts on either side, and a 112 seat balcony (which, I believe, is almost always closed off. Sigh.)

So we went to see The Hobbit right before Christmas. Unlike most of the world, at least according to box office figures, we didn’t like it. We both felt that Jackson had melted Tolkien’s magic into a huge video game with obvious jokes and overdone battle scenes. Gollum is amazing, though.

Seeing anything at the Crandell, though, is fun. We’re wondering what’s coming next.