I was going to include this David Frank Rope of Silicon op-ed in today’s round-up, but it’s just too good not to spotlight separately. I laughed out loud a number of times because I understand this guy’s pain. I’ve been there before. And I’m sure plenty in the readership can relate.
The piece is a week old, so you may have already come across it, but the central idea is the annual top 10 list/best of the year online frenzy and how it makes Frank, sitting helplessly in 33-screen Cedar Rapids, Iowa (two hours away from Des Moines, the closest market for limited releases), want to pull his hair out. He compares his annual out-of-the-know agony to being “[t]hat one guy at your college roommate’s sexy art student girlfriend’s party who hasn’t illegally downloaded the latest Bright Eyes album that everyone around him is raving about.”
Frank “gets it,” of course. “Why give an auditorium to a movie that sells 5 tickets a day,” he asks, “when you can cram it full of old people who must see Marley and Me per their bucket lists?” But eventually he comes around to the all-too-familiar “movie road trip,” that splendid ritual of trekking it however many miles it takes to see the films that simply aren’t making it to the multiplexes (or single-plexes) in those smaller markets:
To me, the movie road trip is how you earn your stripes in the film fiend brigade. You can say you love fine cinema and blah blah blah. But save it for Flowery Film Theory 101. The physical, monetary, time-consuming act of seeking out one small, great film in a far away land (like Des Moines) says a lot more about your dedication to movies than wordy adoration.
This brings back plenty of memories, because like I said, I’ve been there. I certainly haven’t had these year-end prestige flicks at my disposal here in Los Angeles all my life, and if you have, consider yourself lucky.
I grew up in a little burg called Salisbury, North Carolina, maybe an hour or so north of Charlotte. I remember making that journey in 1997 to see “Jackie Brown” and a year later to see “The Thin Red Line.” The Manor art house theater over on Providence Road became a destination for the really small stuff, like “The Red Violin” or “Limbo.”
When I pushed off to college in Winston-Salem (another half-hour north) in 1999, there were times I’d still have to make that journey: “The Man Who Wasn’t There,” “Amelie,” etc. And by that time I was already running a site, so the necessity went beyond desire. But as I look back on it, I wouldn’t have it any other way. It recalls those pre-jaded years when films were just films and the curtain had yet to be pulled back.
So I hear you, David. Way to keep the spirit alive. You’ve more than earned your stripes in my book.
What about you guys? What’s the farthest you’ve ever traveled to see a film that wasn’t playing in your area? Have you ever made the journey knowing the film would be in your town in a few weeks, figuring, ‘Screw it, I have to see this movie RIGHT NOW?” Tell us your story in the comments section below.