Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Phil wishes you all a Happy New Year - January 1, 2019

Hello everyone out there on the internet and welcome to 2019!! Hard to believe that another year has gone into the history books! Now granted, the state of the world of 2018 was very bleak, which was reflected and referenced in many of the movies I watched. In these dark times, we look towards the world of art to see its commentary and views of life, love, and the political and social issues that have plagued this country, especially since November 2016. Overall, it was an interesting year; a year full of great movies, surprises, and losses.

As I mentioned in past posts, the Bay Area institution The Camera Cinemas officially closed all its locations in 2017, marking an era of movie going experience for many film lovers like myself. Basically, they went out of business, and I was completely devastated by this news. The Camera Cinemas played a pivotal and vital role not only for this blog, but on myself as well. They were the only place I could see the very best in independent cinema, documentaries, foreign film, as well as spotlight local films, artists, and film festivals like the Cinequest Film Festival and CASMFest. They were so important to the landscape of the Downtown San Jose area that, truth be told, hasn’t been filled yet. In 2018, both the Pruneyard Campbell and Downtown SJ reopened as new film theaters, with Csmera Cinemas co-founder Jack Nybloom being part owner in both businesses. The old Camera 7 reopened in the summer as the brand-new Pruneyard Dine-In Cinemas, completely remolded and refurnished with new reclining leather chairs, enhanced visuals and surround sound, and a restaurant Cedar Room (formerly the old Boswell Bar) as part of theater, providing very delicious meals and tasty drinks for the moviegoers. I had the pleasure of seeing some movies there and I did have a very positive experience, the old Camera 7 is still there with me. Same was said with the Camera 3 Cinemas on the corner of Second Street and San Carlos in downtown. It was reopened in February as the 3Below Theaters & Lounge, picking up where the Camera 3 left off. It’s still the home for the Comedy Sportz Impov Comedy Group, the midnight screenings of THE ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW with my friends The Barely Legal shadowcast, an home for some of the best indie, foreign, and documentaries from all over the world. Now owned by Nybloom and with the former owners of the long gone Retro Dome in Saratoga, they added some new ingredients to the theater, namely retrospectives of classic Hollywood movies, and stage plays as well. So as the old saying goes, "Everything that’s old is new again." While I’m sad to say goodbye to the Camera Cinemas, it’s nice to welcome both the 3Below Theaters and the PrunyDine-In Cinemas to my movie going world!

After the Camera Cinemas closed, I frequented another local theater business, which also went through some renovations last year as well. The Cinelux Theaters have also been a staple here in the Bay Area, and I was more than happy to give them my support. I saw a plethora of movies at my three favorite locations: the Cinelux Alamden Cafe & Lounge in San Jose, Cinelux Plaza Theatre in Campbell, and the Cinelux Tennant Station Stadium 11 in Morgan Hill. Established over 50 years ago, the Cinelux Theateres are a great alternative to the overwhelming mall theaters, and they support several local organizations and international charities like March of Dimes, The Second Harvest Food Bank, and UNICEF for example. So if you’d like to support local businesses and are a cinema lover, then please visit your local Cinelux Theatres!!

With 2019, a wide array of works of art has now become part of the public domain, especially silent films. This is very good news for my friends over at the Niles Essany Silent Film Museum, which I came back as a volunteer and docent. It felt good to be back to one of my favorite places in the Bay Area, having been part of the museum family since 2006! We had a lot of great shows in 2018. Some of the highlights for me were the annual Broncho Billy Silent Film Festival, Charlie Chaplin Day weekend, our DVD release party for the museum’s silent film BRONCHO BILLY AMD THE BANDIT’S SECRET. Originally titled THE CANYON, the movies took four years to complete, and was made using the old hand cranked film cameras from the museum and was shot on Kodak black and white 35mm filmstock. The final cut looked absolutely stunning! It looked like it came straight from the silent film era! It was incredible to see, and I was so happy to get it on DVD! And now with copyright expired, many of the movies we have in our film vault can now be exhibited without the monetary constrainments that prevented the museum from screening them. So keep your eyes peeled to the museum’s website for some awesome silent film shows in the new year!!