A few weeks ago, I was afraid the magic of the theatrical experience had died for me. I went to the lovely Odem Theater Pub to see a movie and I completely failed to get caught up and swept away by the experience like I normally do. Odem is a wonderful space, so I thought just the act of going to a movie had been sullied for me by living in a COVID-19/murder hornet/police brutality kind of world.
I need not have worried. Tin Pan Theater reopened last Friday and so did a piece of my heart. Walking in that theater and smelling the popcorn, hearing the creak of the wooden floor and seeing the shining jars of candy on the shelves made it all come back to me. Plus, I was really excited to see the movie that was playing.
"Babyteeth" is an Australian coming-of-age dramedy following a teenage girl with cancer (Milla) who meets a small-time homeless drug dealer (Moses) and instantly falls in love. Milla, played by "Little Women's" Eliza Scanlen, is so desperate to experience love that Moses' fearlessness looks like a future to her. Moses, who is basically what would happen if Franco's character from "Spring Breakers" had a baby with Post Malone, doesn't love Milla back, but he cares about her and will stick around as long as Milla's psychiatrist father keeps writing him prescriptions.
The movie I saw at Odem was another coming-of-age dramedy, this one called "How to Build a Girl" and I hated it with the burning passion of a thousand suns. I would almost recommend watching them as a double feature so you could see the difference between honest and authentic filmmaking and whatever half-assed platitudes "HTBAG" was trying to spin about being an authentic person.
Aside from the person running the Tin Pan, there was a young-ish couple there to see the movie, as well. We all had on masks which I shifted to the side to drink my sexy pint of RPM. I don't think the couple were really prepared for dying Australian teenagers looking for love in all the wrong places, so they left after about 10 minutes, leaving me to enjoy Tin Pan all to myself. It was perfect.
Some of the best years of my life were spent working at Tin Pan, watching horror movies at midnight while waiting for another load of dishes to finish washing. We were so specific and exacting about the movies we showed that there were folks who came to everything simply because they trusted our curating process. Now, as a patron, I feel the same way.
When Regal and all the big chains reopen, they're going to be hoping we'll go to the movies just to get out of the house, not because of what's showing. Before we get to see "Tenet" or "Black Widow," we'll get a dozen pieces of studio-mandated garbage thrown at us to see if theaters are still a viable business model. Maybe if Regal comes back with a curated experience showing the same care that Tin Pan does, they can save their own business as opposed to treating customers like, "Well, we got your money, so you're on your own" like they used to do. Since Old Mill 16 is going to reopen in early July, it will be interesting to see what will change about the experience now that there's aspects of it to be nervous about. Will they learn lessons from places like Tin Pan Theater, or die like so many dinosaurs that have come before?