Midnight Movies in Atlanta

Apologies in advance. This entry takes a sharp turn near the end….

I went to see Collateral last night at a midnight (12:30, to be precise) screening at the Regal 24 Cinema. Regal 24 is that massive, brightly lit theater on I-85 north. I’m not going to write a full review here, other than to say that I liked the film quite a bit. Instead, I’d like to discuss my experience of catching a film at this theater.

Before I complain too much, I do like the fact that Regal 24 has midnight movie screenings. I tend to work (grade papers, write, research) until late into the night, even on a Saturday. To find a theater that offers midnight screenings made me very happy (and judging by the nearly packed house, more theaters chould consider late night screenings). The snack offerings, including a full coffee bar, aren’t bad (although they are way overpriced, even compared to other theaters here in town).

I probably should have realized a long time ago that Regal 24 offers midnight movies, but there’s a good reason for not noticing. The theater experience itself is simply unpleasant. Perhaps I’m spoiled by my trips to Landmark’s Midtown Art Theater, Graden Hills, and other art house theaters, but the non-stop advertisements are simply annoying. The ad-fest, “The Twenty,” that runs before every film is too grating and too loud, and because the theater is selling the audience’s attention to advertisers for the twenty minutes before the movie starts, you’d think they could at least cut us a break on the cost of a ticket. But Regal’s ticket cost ($8.75) is one of the most expensive in town. Now I know that I could show up right before the movie and skip the ads, but as a film snob, I’m pretty picky about where in the theater I sit (this will likely annoy you if you ever see a movie with me).

Despite my aversion to “The Twenty,” I did find myself intrigued by one of the shows they advertised, a new WB show called Jack and Bobby, made by the creative people behind Everwood and Dawson’s Creek (I’ve never seen these shows, but I’ve heard they’re pretty good). The show focuses on Jack and Bobby McCallister when they are children and seems to ask whether or not their future “greatness” can be seen when they are children, but of course, the family really repesents the Kennedys, something the preview clearly tried to gloss. It’s an odd election-year fantasy, nostalgic for some ostensibly more innocent form of politics (which begs the question: how will it deal with Joe Kennedy’s business connections?). The other notable creative decision was the choice to essentially write Ted (and half a dozen other brothers and sisters) out of the show. Based on the clips I saw and the promotional photo for the show, it’s like Ted doesn’t even exist. Now I don’t expect TV shows to be historically accurate, and gauzy nostalgic shows about a more innocent past are always going to remember selectively. But it seems that for the premise of this show to succeed, it has to write Ted out of the picture. Otherwise we have a connection to the contemporary political scene, and the nostalgia concept would no longer be possible. I’m usually too lazy to watch TV (or at least to remember to watch specific shows), but I’ll be curious to see how this show deals with the highly contested history of this family.

Updated to correct a misunderstanding about Jack and Bobby.

5 Comments so far

  1. Josh (unregistered) on August 23rd, 2004 @ 11:59 am

    Midnight movie, Friday at the Lefont Plaza is really good. Maybe you should go…at 6.75 its a price you can’t beat!

    (shameless plug for a good show)

  2. chuck (unregistered) on August 23rd, 2004 @ 3:31 pm

    The Midtown Art is my favorite theater in town, and I know they have a few midnight screenings, but according to the film schedule in Creative Loafing, the selections were somewhat limited this weekend. I know the Lefont Plaza does Rocky Horror at midnight on Fridays. They do other midnight movies as well?

    My only real reason for going to the Regal was to see Collateral. I’d much rather see a film at Midtown Art or a Lefont Theater.

  3. Billy Mack (unregistered) on September 14th, 2004 @ 2:36 am

    Just a quick note about Jack and Bobby:

    I saw the pilot episode, and I think you have the wrong idea about the show. It isn’t supposed to be the Kennedy family, it just takes a few of the aspects of those men (including their first names) for use in an entirely fictional story. It’s more “inspired by” than “based on.” When the writing of Jack and Bobby veers away from the real lives of the Kennedy men (which it has to, else we’ll soon see more than one season end with an assassination), it’s because it’s just borrowing a few pieces of their lives–it’s not a biography.

    The McCallister boy that grows to be president in this show doesn’t do so until around 2030 or some futuristic time like that. The show may call on a sense of nostalgia, but it takes place in the future. The show is fiction, and is just borrowing from our collective consciousness in the character names and likenesses. The family in the show is VERY different from the real Kennedy family in most ways besides the boys’ names and their political future. The writers are trying to hook us in with the Kennedy reference, but it is almost misleading since I’ve already seen more people than just you say “That’s not how the Kennedy family really was!”

    Check out the pilot when it airs, and I think you’ll find it to be much different than you’re expecting. And as the series goes on, I think you’ll find less and less allusions to the Kennedy clan. After all, who wants to see a documentary on the WB? :)

  4. chuck (unregistered) on September 14th, 2004 @ 9:16 am

    You’re right to say that it’s only loosely connected to the Kennedys. I clarified a lot of these points on my personal blog, but was too lazy for clarifications here. I think the names have such a hold on contemporary political discourse that some connection is inevitable, but my points about nostalgia now need to be reworked considerably.

    I wonder about how the show might be “nostalgic for the present,” if that’s actually possible. How does J&B portray the year 2030?

  5. Billy Mack (unregistered) on September 15th, 2004 @ 4:45 pm

    Sorry for the delay, here’s a more detailed description of Jack and Bobby…at least of the pilot episode (things can always change before it reaches episode number two).

    The show is the story of 16-year old Jack and 13-year old Bobby McCallister. They live in small-town Missouri in the present day with their single mom (Christine Lahti)–who teaches at the local university, constantly quotes literary and historical figures, and occasionally sneaks a joint in the office.

    From the beginning of the pilot, we know that one of the boys becomes President around the year 2040, although it isn’t clear which one at first. Info about this future pres is revealed through “documentary interviews” that frame the regular WB Drama style of the show. The interviews are with the best friend, vice president, campaign manager, etc. They all speak about President McCallister as if he was both the greatest president ever, and tragically flawed. When they show his VP, the text on the screen shows that she was in office for five years, implying that McCallister’s presidency ended abruptly.

    Because the documentary is about President McCallister’s childhood, they don’t really talk much about the future. But at the beginning of the “documentary,” a Harvard historian mentions other great presidents throughout history, and the images show a black and a female president. He also mentions an impeachment scandal and a massive plague in Africa, all of which apparently happen sometime between 2004 and President McCallister’s term.

    The hook of the show is that the interviewees continually reveal information about the Pres and his family, and you then have to wait and see how it comes to pass. For example, one of the interviewers says, “I once asked him who his greatest role model was. Knowing who his mother is, I assumed he’d say her.” Since his mom is just a professor at this point in the show, the expectation is that she’ll someday become someone more important.

    The show also has some twists that you wouldn’t expect. It will be interesting to see how they get from point A (frustrated teen) to point B (great leader of the free world). Of course, if the show does well, they’ll need to stretch it out to last many seasons, so there’s a chance it will NEVER get to point B. But I think it will be one of the more interesting series of the coming fall season.

    By the way, I really tried not to give away any spoilers in this little synopsis. But without spoiling anything, I’ll say that they do acknowledge in the show that the two boys have the names of two prominent members of a former political family. But once you find out where their names really came from, it will all make better sense, and the whole “this is supposed to be the Kennedy brothers” thing goes right out the window for good.

    Anyway, check it out and make your own call. Be prepared for some WB teen angst, of course, but let me know what you think about the twist. I think the premiere repeats this Thursday, with a new ep on Sunday…

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