Recently the AMC chain has been showing independent and foreign cinema at their Metreon location in San Francisco. Foreign movies are not independent films, they are often studio films from their native country, they just get jumbled into that category because people of this country either don’t have the patience or the balls to accept the fact that many foreign movies are well done. AMC has been showing foreign movies on and off again, for about six or seven months. The first one I clearly remember is from Thanksgiving, where they showed the great Chinese romantic comedy-drama “If You Are the One”. I didn’t watch it at the movie theater since I have the DVD and it’s a sad and funny one time view type movie.
I check the AMC Metreon schedule every week, to see what the new foreign movie would be. Sometimes it’s a well known, but critically panned movie and sometimes it’s an odd American independent movie. Recently however, the last 3 months or so, they have consistently been showing foreign movies there. I saw the horrible and I mean truly wretched Chinese movie “The Butcher, The Chef, and The Swordsman” Talk about a waste of money, but the screen was big and the sound was great. They have also showed “The Last Godfather” which is the worst Korean movie that I have ever seen. After “The Last Godfather” was pulled from the theater after a week, they showed a Mexican movie, “It’s Me, Not You” and it was another crapfest, that I regretted seeing. This past week they showed a Chinese movie called “The Warring States”. This is was a much better movie and it looked good on the big screen with the Metreon sound. The was good, but not great.
Now if you got about a mile north west or just go west for a mile you will come across two different movie theaters. One is called Opera Plaza Cinema and The Lumier. These are two theaters owned and ran by Landmark Cinema and they show foreign movies and independent American movies. It’s cool that they show the movies, that I like, but their movie screens and sound systems really suck.
The screens are tiny and I mean really small. Especially at the Opera Plaza. Their sound is really bad too. It just seems that someone just turned up the volume and it is loud and annoying rather then loud with a lot of sound definition.
I hate so called “artsy” movie theaters. I hate them cause of their shitty sound, small screen size, pretentious workers, who for some reason want to always share their opinions. I am sorry, you are not Roger Ebert and I don’t care about your interest in French new wave. The artsy theaters are a rip off for their prices. Granted they show great foreign movies, but we still have to pay the same amount of money to see a movie on a little screen, with crap sound. I would not even write an entry about this this topic if I had to pay half the price to see the movie.
I had an idea to solve the artsy fartsy theater problem. Rather then show a film from a reel on a tiny shitty little screen. Why not buy 78 inch plasmas or LCD TVS, with a kick ass sound system and show a blu ray copy of each of the independent or foreign movie. I would pay full price in order to see it ay 1080DPI screen with great sound. Then I would be willing to shell out the 12 bucks.
All in all, I do not like the way foreign movies are treated. I am happy the AMC corporation is trying to expand into a different audience by showing movies from another country. I just wish they were able to snatch up the better movies. Instead of “The Last Godfather” why couldn’t they show “I Saw The Devil”. I just think since the Metreon is such a great venue to watch any movie, that AMC would try and get a good movie to match it.
The following is a list of A List foreign movies that were shown at F rated theaters*.
Mother, The Good, the Bad, the Weird and Thirst: played at the “The Bridge” which is a tiny, shit theater that sometimes shows good movies. Horrible venue, tiny screen and even worse sound.
I Saw the Devil and The Housemaid: at the Lumier. Already discussed.
Like Water for Chocolate, Poetry, Amores Perros, Cowboy Bebop the Movie: at the Opera Plaza. Already discussed.
Sympathy for Lady Vengeance, The Host, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, The Promise: at the Stonestown Twin. Decent theater size, shitty sound and in the words of my father “The most depressing place to be on a lonely Saturday night”.
Old Boy, Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance, Lust Caution, Red Cliff, Y Tu Mama Tambien: this is getting better. The Embarcaderro theater is a decent theater. The sound is nice, screen size is good, but it still doesn’t compare with even the smallest Metreon theater.
I just wanted to show you a short list of the various excellent movies at their crappy movie screens. I hope you enjoyed it.
*granted that most of them are Korean movies. But I hope you get my point. Besides, this is my blog. I am an avid fan of Korean cinema as well.