Friday, December 27, 2013

Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory (1971)

WHO: Mel Stuart directed this.

WHAT: I must have been a sensitive child, because I remember getting nightmares from reading Roald Dahl's Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. I was particularly disturbed by against-the-will transformations, and thus by Violet Beauregarde's metamorphosis into a blueberry. So when my dad took me to see a revival screening of Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory at the York Theatre (now the Brava) I went with some trepidation and had to wander into the lobby for a few minutes during that sequence. Upon revisiting the film as a college student I realized that this was actually a pretty tame scene compared to many in the film, which has a seriously sinister undercurrent running pretty much throughout.

WHERE/WHEN: Screens tonight only at the Paramount Theatre at 8:00

WHY: The Paramount is arguably the most luxurious cinemagoing experience (thanks to it's gorgeously restored interior) in the Bay Area for the lowest price (only $5!) I have a rule that if the theatre advertises a screening of something I've never seen before, I must attend if I possibly can. This rarely occurs, however, because such a large theatre to fill means the programming usually emphasizes well-worn classics I've seen many times. I find myself often prioritizing a rare 35mm print of something I've never seen at a place like the Stanford or the PFA or the Castro over a Paramount viewing of an old favorite. But tonight the PFA is closed, the Stanford is showing films I'll have a second shot at seeing tomorrow, and the Castro has a matinee showing of its evening programs. So I plan to visit the latter to catch Tony Scott's True Romance (and skip Pulp Fiction; nothing personal but I've seen that one before) in the afternoon and make a pilgrimage to the Paramount in the evening, with plenty of time to have a convivial dinner with some of my fellow Wonka-goers in the meantime.

If the venue alone weren't enough, I'm glad I'll finally be revisiting Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory, for the first time since the death of Mel Stuart in August 2012. I did catch Stuart's documentary Wattstax earlier this year and notice that it is on the Castro's coming soon page as a budding Martin Luther King, Jr. Day tradition, this time on a double-bill with Richard Pryor: Live on the Sunset Strip.

HOW: 35mm print of the feature, plus newsreel, animated short film, and trailer(s).

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