Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Brother, Can You Spare $3.50?

I'm so busy at work, I don't have time to post about the films I've seen.  Work, films, occasional gym visit, repeat.

Two items related to theater going in SF.

First, I wrote that the UA/Regal Cinema theater at Stonestown was charging $3.50 for all screenings.  That was way back in July.  I don't know if the theater has changed its policy or if it ever strictly adhered to a policy of "$3.50 for all screenings," but I stopped by recently to see Farewll, My Queen and was quoted an admission price of $10.50.  This was my first trip to the Stonestown Cinema since receiving an email announcing the switch to $3.50.  Rereading the email, it states "$3.50 all day, everyday."  I guess there is some wiggle room in there but the simple reading of it gives the definite impression that all screenings are $3.50.  I did not stay to ask the ticket taker about the ambiguity of "$3.50 all day, everyday" as I was on the fence about seeing Farewell, My Queen.  The unexpected change in ticket price was enough of an impetus for me to go with my backup plan which was to do some early Christmas shopping.

If the price policy has changed, I did not receive an email announcing it.  I looked on Fandango and could not purchase any tickets for $3.50 at the Stonestown Cinema.  Even the matinee price was $8 for Adults.

As I mentioned in my original post, the switch to $3.50 was not likely enough incentive for me to go to the Stonestown more frequently.  I guess it didn't incentivize other people either.  I have noticed that the theater has switched from second run general release films to second run art house films.  Currently playing are The Master, Killer Joe and Farewell, My Queen.  The latter two films have come and gone from local Landmark theaters.


Speaking of Landmark theaters, the Lumiere closed in September.  According to the San Francisco Chronicle article, the theater was nicknamed the "Gloomier" for "both its interior ambience and the type of film it showcased."  I never heard that term used but can appreciate it because the subject matter of the films suited my tastes just fine.  I thought the Lumiere had a funky charm to it.  I recall the framed movie posters in the smallest screening room and the small photographs in the lobby.  The Lumiere had the same vibe as the late Red Vic.  Contrast that to the shabbiness of the Clay and Bridge, the pastel infused sterility of the Embarcadero or the ominous and depressing Opera Plaza.  The Lumiere was a favorite of mine even if that statement is not borne out by my attendance data.  I enjoyed riding the cable car to and fro or dining at the tiny Cordon Bleu restaurant next door to the Lumiere.  The woman at the doughnut shop at California and Polk would occasionally give me a free banana with my coffee.  I speak of these things in the past tense because (notwithstanding a dinner at Crustacean) I cannot recall the last time I was in that area if not for a screening at the Lumiere. 

I was unable to see a film during the last weekend of the Lumiere.  I was attending a Hong Kong film series at the equally imperiled Viz.  The HK series was sponsored by the San Francisco Film Society (SFFS) which also seems to be having hard times.  New SFFS Executive Director Ted Hope sent a letter to members asking for donations so the Film Society could make its annual budget.  Where did that come from?  How could the Society enter into a lease with New People in 2011 and run a budget shortfall in 2012?  They had to gut their Summer slate of educational programs (although I notice they have a reduced course offering this fall).  I can't help but wonder if the daily programming at the Viz became a moneypit for SFFS.


Finally, it's the last week to see Chinglish at the Berkeley Rep.  It closes on October 21.  The play is delightful.  The first act was one of the most enjoyable theater experiences I've had in a long time.  Actress Michelle Krusiec (Saving Face) shows off her comedic talents (not to mention a rather painful looking bunionette/corn on her foot).  I highly recommend Chinglish.


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