Central Cinema's Summer Series
Catching summertime blockbusters has become a time-honored tradition among moviegoers. But an entire film festival devoted to the elements that make summer summer—the vacationing, the partying and the blasts of heat and swooning romance that surface at this time of year—is something else entirely.
Enter Central Cinema—imaginative programming, cozy surroundings, full menu and audience interactivity in hand.
The Hot Summer Nights Festival takes over the Central for the entire month of August, beginning on Aug. 2 with a screening of Robert Altman’s Short Cuts and wrapping up with Spike Lee’s Do the Right Thing on Aug. 29. Fifteen other movies come in between, and “each film will feature summer funning, vacation trippin’, and lots of sweat,” promises Jason Miller, the festival’s programmer.
Miller says the idea for the festival came to him during the toastier moments of Summer 2011, “when my friends and I were hiding out in Central Cinema trying to beat the heat.” The theater, he notes, possesses “everything you need to survive a Hot Summer Night--comfortable seats, A/C blasting, a full summer menu and beer!”
The programming includes some sure-fire audience favorites like the summer-set crowd-pleaser Dirty Dancing (running Aug. 3–7) and the heavily-requested classic, Gone with the Wind on Aug. 26 (“We strongly encourage hoop skirts,” Miller quips about the 1939 classic’s screening).
But the theater’s customary imagination runs rampant throughout the informal festival: The 1962 Robert Mitchum/Gregory Peck thriller Cape Fear (Aug. 24, 25 and 27) and the 1974 horror classic The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (Aug. 24, 25, 27 and 29) aren’t really ‘summer movies’ per se, but both convey a sweaty tension that couldn’t be more seasonally apropos. “Even our Hecklevision screening ofDays of Thunder with Tom Cruise and Dr. Nicole Kidman [on Monday, Aug. 13] was chosen because of all the perspiration on and off the race track,” Miller says.
The Central Cinema’s long been known as a stronghold for classic 1980s movies, and that decade is well-represented in the line-up. “I love ’80s movies, and they have a huge following at Central Cinema,” he says. Chief among the highlights for Miller is a Kathleen Turner mini-retrospective of 1981’s neo-noir Body Heat (Aug. 3–8) and the 1983 adventure, Romancing the Stone (which plays Aug. 10, 11,12 and 14). “If anyone ever embodied a Hot Summer Night, it is this ’80’s screen legend,” Miller states. “I love a good barn burner, and she is smokin’ hot in both features.”
One unintended surprise up the Cinema’s metaphoric sleeve is the theater’s Aug. 12 screening of the Bill Murray comedy Meatballs, which coincides with the Seattle leg of Murray’s Party-Crashing Tour of the United States. “I CANNOT say he is going to be at the screening,” Miller qualifies, “but if folks in Seattle want to flood him with requests, this is the link to the hotline number.”
Miller and company plan on following up Hot Summer Nights with another creative programming theme in the first part of 2013. “Central Cinema gets a bad case of the Number Twos this January,” Miller reveals, referring to a film festival chock-full of movie sequels, “both good and crappy.” But for now, the veteran programmer looks forward to enjoying the fruits of his labor. “Just imagine: Romancing the Stone while sipping a root beer float,” he enthuses. “That’s a real Hot Summer Night.”
Admission for most of Central Cinema’s Hot Summer Nights presentations is $6 per person in advance and $8 per person day-of-show. The Hecklevision screening of Days of Thunder runs $7 advance/$9 day-of-show. More details can be found at http://www.central-cinema.com.
Pictured above: Spike Lee's Do The Right Thing.