Friday, April 19, 2013

Jaws (1975)

WHO: Steven Spielberg. John Williams. And a great cast headed up by a shark.

WHAT: To some cinephiles, the name 'Spielberg' is a baneful one. Two months ago when he was announced to head the jury awarding prizes among the competition films in the upcoming Cannes Film Festival (whose lineup has just been announced), there was quite a bit of wailing from certain quarters that he would impose his mainstream, Hollywood, formula sensibilities in an arena where artistry should be prized over entertainment value. But what if the two are not mutually exclusive? Can there be artistry in a horror movie? A blockbuster? If Jaws doesn't answer these questions affirmatively, I'm hard pressed to think of a Spielberg picture that can.

WHERE/WHEN: Today only at the CineArts Pleasant Hill at 2:00 and 7:00.

WHY: I don't often write about suburban multiplexes on this blog, especially now that they've all converted to all-digital projection, and become even more cookie-cutter than ever before because of it. But there's at least one five-screen theatre in Contra Costa County which stands out from all the other Frisco Bay cinemas I'm aware of: The CineArts Pleasant Hill, formerly known as the Century 5, and before that the Century 21. But I've usually just heard it referred to as "the dome." It opened in 1967 as the region's only massively-curved-screen D-150 cinema, and though it has since been modified (four additional houses sectioned off from the main screen, which is now only slightly curved, and an all-DCP projection system put into place) it's still not only unique to the East Bay but different from the other dome theatres in Sacramento and San Jose.

For the past several years the dome has operated as an art house, but this weekend is it's last hurrah. Demolition is set to take place this summer to make way for a sporting goods store, although there is a last-ditch grass-roots attempt to stop that. Other bloggers have recently written on the dome and the fight to save it, but it seems clear that your only certain chances to see a movie in this marvelous example of midcentury architecture are this weekend. The theatre will be showing its usual fare in the four side theatres, but is giving the dome over to three classics showing twice per day for only $3 a ticket.

Today it's Jaws, appropriate since the dome was, according to Cinema Trasures, one of the original 464 theatres nationwide to exhibit that film during it's initial "saturation booking" release in 1975. Tomorrow it screens The Sound of Music and Sunday it shows (most appropriate to the space-age design of the theatre when it was built) 2001: A Space Odyssey.

Since these will be digital presentations, it seems worth noting that film purists will be able to see another early Spielberg work in 35mm soon: Duel, which was made for television but will be shown in the rarely-shown theatrical cut at the Castro Theatre April 26th.

HOW: Jaws screens via DCP.


  1. Quite looking forward to DUEL...and to the Spielberg jury's Palmes.

  2. Me too, though I'm not certain I'll be at Duel yet.