Posted by: Sally Ingraham | March 7, 2013

Movie Mayhem: Tin Pan Theater, Bend, OR edition

Bend has four movie theaters, from what I’ve discovered thus far – one of the big chain theaters; a small theater that is connected to the Pacific Northwest brewery/venue chain McMenamins; and two independent theaters. I have yet to check out Volcanic Theatre Pub (but they’re showing Pulp Fiction this weekend so I’ll probably go!) I have visited Tin Pan Theater thrice now, and I love it. It’s like the little brother of Reel Pizza Cinerama in Bar Harbor, ME, where I used to work and where I left my heart hopelessly tangled.

Tin Pan Theater is tiny, with a lobby and screening area that fill just one room. Suitably, it is located in an alley. Beer and popcorn accompany independent and foreign films, and Wednesdays are for Spaghetti Westerns (with the all-you-can-eat spaghetti to go with them). I was told that the dream is to rent out space upstairs and show more movies, and overheard that other food options may someday be available. Like I said, I already love this place!

So far I’ve seen three movies there. Two were excellent, and the third contributed to a very enjoyable evening, so no complaints from me!

Chasing Ice (Dir. Jeff Orlowski. Writ. Mark Monroe. Stars James Balog. USA, 2012) James Balog, a National Geographic photographer, set out to document the dramatic changes that the world’s glaciers are experiencing. Over the course of several years the time-lapse cameras he and his team set up in Iceland, Greenland, Alaska, and in Glacier Nat’l Park bore silent witness to melting unlike anything seen before in recorded history. The reasons WHY are obvious to many but often easy to ignore, and certainly hard to see on a day to day basis. Balog’s project provides evidence that is graphic, and imagery that will be difficult to forget. This documentary follows him as he gets the project underway, facing technical and physical obstacles. The human drama barely qualifies as a set of parenthesis to the story of the ice though. Balog’s still photography is extraordinary, the time-lapse footage brings you to the edge of your seat, and some of the live action video of the calving of icebergs is one of the more jaw-drop inducing things I’ve ever seen. Gut-wrenching beauty and devastation. This one won’t necessarily cheer you, but it will definitely hit you where it matters. Highly recommended.

Sound City (Dir. David Grohl. Writ. Mark Monroe. USA, 2013) I just realize this film and Chasing Ice were written by the same fellow. Makes sense that they’re both quite good! Sound City is about a recording studio of that name, which was located in Van Nuys, CA. It was where the members of Fleetwood Mac found each other, where Nirvana cut Nevermind, where Rick Springfield recorded Jessie’s Girl – and so many other amazing musicians gathered to make music. The movie is kind of a love letter from Dave Grohl to the Neve 8028 analog mixing console that the “sound” in Sound City Studios revolved around. When the studio finally had to close in 2011, he bought the machine and then set about gathering many of the musicians who had used and abused it over the years to celebrate the creativity and craziness it had captured. The movie is full of music, interviews with musicians, and passionate stories told by folks who worked in the studio from it’s early days to it’s twilight. The movie makes a quiet comment about the loss of analog with the rise of digital, but puts more of an emphasis on the power of music made by real people, whether they’re using technology to create or just an acoustic guitar. It’s a a high spirited film, with a wistful undertone. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Find a Place to Die (Dir. Giuliano Carnimeo. Writ. Lamberto Benvenuti. Stars Jeffrey Hunter and Pascale Petit. Italy, 1968) As I mentioned, Wednesdays are when the spaghetti western rules at Tin Pan Theater. I went to check the event out tonight for the first time. There’s been a good turn out for the other films I’ve seen there, but this screening was as sold out as it gets there – all 30 (if that, my guesstimation was conservative) seats were taken. The spaghetti and garlic bread overflowed, Boneyard Beer‘s RPM IPA represented (a new PNW fav), and the laughably terrible Find a Place to Die got a few good gawffs from folks other than myself. It was no Sergio Leone, and the soundtrack was a symphony away from a Morricone score. The plot – a desperate woman seeks the help of a court-martialed soldier, who manages to redeem himself by resisting his own greed and defending her against brigands out to score her body and her gold mine – was weak at best. Eye-roll and snigger inducing. The score had a few good moments, and there was one somewhat clever exchange, but ultimately I filled up on noodles and was left hungry for a decent western (like My Name is Nobody – which I’ll have to write about that later!) An enjoyable round of ridicule with my accompanying friends made it all worthwhile in the end though, and I won’t hesitate to brave the spaghetti western again another time. At least I know the food will be good!

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