Saturday, August 7, 2010

Rolling Roadshow Reflections

Last night was the kick off to the Alamo Drafthouse's Rolling Roadshow 2010 traveling tour dubbed "We Are All Workers." The tour is set up to screen 12 movies in 9 locations across the United States where the specific movies were actually filmed. Last night was Quentin Tarantino's 1997 love song to the South Bay, "Jackie Brown" and it was screened at the Proud Bird restaurant adjacent to LAX. Being a huge fan of Tarantino's work and hearing nothing but amazing things about the Alamo Drafthouse and their Rolling Roadshow experiences I just had to attend. Checkout my thoughts below on the outstanding evening put on by Tim League and the Alamo Drafthouse Rolling Roadshow.

One of the best aspects to the Alamo Drafthouse Rolling Roadshow tour is that all nine locations on the tour are completely free to attend. That's right, a outstanding movie in a location where it was filmed, all for free. It would be wise to bring money for food, drinks or perhaps a souvenir or two, but more than likely you'll be just fine packing a picnic, some lawn chairs and a blanket.

Often big events can hit a wrinkle and the We Are All Workers tour's first stop came with one included. Apparently the original idea was to screen "Jackie Brown" at the Del Amo mall where a  good portion of the third act is filmed. Unfortunately, the Del Amo mall and the city of Torrance had some restrictions with the Rolling Roadshow's sound output and cancelled the location. Luckily, the Alamo Drafthouse tour was able to secure another location, LAX. Well not exactly LAX, but right across the street at the Proud Bird restaurant.

The venue was actually really nice. When I first heard it was going to be at a restaurant, I wondered how the hell the screening would work and how many people could actually fit. That said, the venue is fairly big. In back of the two-story restaurant was a massive lawn that housed old airplanes. Basically a small airplane graveyard. Rolling Roadshow essentially set us up right in the middle of these old airplanes. In the middle, the Rolling Roadshow crew had set up a small number of red lawn chairs for VIP and our group found a nice spot adjacent to them.

The screen itself is inflatable. Think of the jumpers parents rent for birthday parties, only with a massive 100 foot screen on it. For any film fan, its a screen you wished you had in your backyard. Our group even lamented how awesome it would be to take that massive screen to the beach and do a screening of "Jaws." I get chills just thinking about it! The Alamo Drafthouse uses a small truck as the projection room which was also setup near the middle of the field. I have to say how much I enjoyed hearing the projector actually running. Now days in most of these state-of-the-art theaters we don't get to hear the actual projector running and I've always missed that sound. It reminds me of my youth and growing up going to dive matchbook mall theaters that had paper thin walls.

Being an outdoors event, we are at the mercy of mother nature and need to wait for the sun to go down before the film could begin. Once it was dark, a Rolling Roadshow representative came on the sound system and told us that our feature would begin shortly after our special guests had arrived. Those guests were none other than Quentin Tarantino and Robert Forster who plays Max Cherry in the movie. Once Forster and more importantly Tarantino were on site, Alamo Drafthouse CEO Tim League started the festivities and introduced our special guests.

Quentin Tarantino being the showman he is, took the mic and rallied up the crowd. He opened up the crowd giving a big "Fuck you!" to the city of Torrance and the Del Amo mall for canceling the original venue. Tarantino noted Torrance is the city where he grew up and that "Jackie Brown" is his love note to the South Bay. He then noted how happy he was that the new location was made available because he'd, "always wanted to visit the Proud Bird restaurant." Tarantino told the crowd that LAX is obviously where Jackie is coming and going from within the flick so it seemed perfect to choose this location instead. He also maintained that everywhere "Jackie Brown" was filmed could be driven to within 20 minutes of LAX.

Robert Forster didn't say much other than he's had successful knee surgery and he really appreciated Quentin Tarantino giving him a role back in 1997. Forster looked good for his ripe age of 69. Coincidentally he had been sitting next to our seats while waiting for Mr. Tarantino to arrive and I got a chance to shake his hand and tell him I remembered him from "The Black Hole" as a kid. He looked at me, patted me on the shoulder and said with all the charm in the world, "I appreciate that."

Forster unfortunately didn't stick around for the screening, but Quentin Tarantino did and he actually sat right next us! I know that sounds like a giddy little schoolgirl, but I do not care. I was beyond infatuated with the fact that one of my favorite directors was sitting so close. In fact, I really couldn't concentrate. The Rolling Roadshow and QT and set up some great Blaxploitation trailers to get us in the mood before the feature, but I was transfixed on Tarantino. I told myself I had to go over and shake his hand otherwise I wouldn't be able to pay attention to the movie. With only the first trailer starting it was the only chance I had to go over, so I got up and approached him. Sat down next to him and said, "Mr. Tarantino I couldn't concentrate with you so close. Just had to come over, shake your hand and tell you I am a huge fan." Now what I told him could come across a bit like a stalker (I mean I can't concentrate just because Quentin Tarantino is 10 feet from me?) but regardless, QT gave me a great handshake, a huge smile and big "Thank you." Peace instantly ran over me, I returned to my seat and on went with the evening's screening.

As for the trailers they showed, all of them were great. They showed quite a few of Pam Grier's earlier work during the 70's blaxploitation era including; "Women in Cages," "Coffy" and "Foxy Brown." We also saw the trailer for "The Mack" starring Richard Pryor and Max Julien, "Across 110th Street," Isaac Hayes's "Truck Turner" and everybody's favorite vampire movie, "Blacula." All of these trailers play right into what made Tarantino the director he is, not mention showcasing where Pam Grier came from.

After the trailers, popped up that notable Miramax logo and we all knew what time it was. We'd all been waiting a couple of hours and the time was finally upon us, "Jackie Brown." The screening went off fabulously. The crowd ate up the movie and so did I. I haven't seen the film in a number of years and honestly think this was only my third or fourth viewing. I own it and know I've watched the DVD, but this was certainly only my second time seeing it on a big screen. This was also my first time watching it with Quentin Tarantino sitting 10 feet from me. Which is pretty surreal experience if you think about it.

Look at it this way, I'm essentially sitting next to the director of the movie and listening to his reactions of the film. Not only that, but seeing how Tarantino reacts with the crowd. How he is grooving on everyone else watching his movie. Thinking about it again, it gives me the chills. There were even a few moments in the film where you could notice an inside joke or something implied that stuck with Tarantino. It was pretty special.

Overall I loved revisiting "Jackie Brown." The night was spent with a great crowd along with even better friends and a perfect movie. Alamo Drafthouse CEO Tim League after the event apologized for the frequency of planes that landed during the movie on an nearby runway, but it didn't matter, those planes didn't spoil the evening. If anything they enhanced it. For starters, watching as these huge airplanes come in for a landing is pretty spectacular, but add the fact that Tarantino uses audio bites of airplanes taking off and landing in "Jackie Brown" really added to the ambience of the whole event.

If you are reading this and are saying man that sounds like so much fun, well don't worry because this is only the first evening of 9 planned. You still have 8 more chances to catch one of the Alamo Drafthouse's Rolling Roadshow We Are All Workers tour. Below I have complied all the posters created by the talented Olly Moss and information for the remaining tour dates.

"Dirty Harry" August 7th, 2010 San Francisco, CA (info)

"There Will Be Blood" August 8th, 2010 Bakersfield, CA (info)

"Convoy" & "Red Dawn" August 8th, 2010 Las Vegas, NM (info)

"The Blues Brothers" August 13th, 2010 Juliet, IL (info)

"Robocop" August 14th, 2010 Detroit, MI (info)

"Rocky" "Rocky II" & "Rocky III" August 19th, 2010 Philadelphia, PA (info)

"On the Waterfront" August 20th, 2010 Hoboken, NJ (info)

"The Godfather: Part II" August 27th, 2010 New York, NY (info)


Great review of the night! It was truly an amazing experience.

You're lucky you got to sit next to him! Now who was his little girlfriend? =P

Did you go to "There Will Be Blood" too?

I didn't go to "There Will Be Blood" last night, I wanted to but couldn't make it.