Tuesday, September 11, 2007

The moviegoers

When you are relaxing and shopping for books on the South Side of Chicago, as Ereck and I were Saturday afternoon, and you suddenly realize that Andrei Tarkovsky's three hour and 41 minute epic Andrey Rublyov is playing that night at the Gene Siskel Film Center, in the Loop -- well, you go.

My mistake was in misreading the showtime. I thought it was 6:30. So we sprinted downtown, hampered by the fact that I drive a pickup truck and am therefore banished from Lake Shore Drive. We struggled to park amid festival traffic, and then in the interest of time ate a rushed, largely uninspired dinner at a Corner Bakery. It's a shame to dine at a chain in the great culinary capital that is Chicago. But we were out of options.

Then we hurried to the theater, where the snide young box office attendant (is there any other kind at an art house?) informed me that the film started at 7:30. He did so by wordlessly hooking his thumb in the general direction of the showtimes posted on the wall. We morosely killed an hour at the Borders down the block.

But never mind. The film was awesome, in an older sense of that word, and the filmgoing experience was wonderful. I dread going to films in Madison because the audiences are consistently nattering and awful, even at the estimable Cinematheque. The Film Center audience was reverent, respectful, silent.

Before the movie I noted with satisfaction that many of our fellow filmgoers had arrived alone, and were reading books before the lights went down. That's my kind of audience.

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