Saturday, January 21, 2006

A truly Capitol idea

As I was watching Dorothy hit her head and fly Over the Rainbow Thursday night at the newly restored Capitol Theatre, I had my own dream about the bright future of movies in downtown Macon.

If you haven't been yet, do it. The restoration job is remarkable, and its now a friendly atmosphere for movies, music or whatever may be in store for us. But it's the movies, of course, that excite me.

For years Hollywood has been complaining about a box-office slump, with more money being spent on DVDs and less on going to the theater (but all this money still goes to the studios, so it's a perfectly hollow argument.)

Though some of this can be blamed on the quality of movies being put out by the big studios now (did anybody actually go see "Grandma's Boy"?), it's also due to the fact that going to the movies just isn't as fun for many people as it used to be. What incentive is there to stand in line, get gouged for refreshments and squeeze in among the cattle when you can instead just wait a few months and watch the same movie in the comfort of your own home?

What's been lost is the communal experience, the thrill of finding something new with your friends and talking about it afterward. As technology drives us all to be more insular in nature, this may soon be lost forever, but the Capitol Theatre is doing its small part to make going to the movies fun again.

How do you improve on the already perfect "Wizard of Oz"? For me, throw in a cold Chimay Belgian beer to sip on and a very eager kid behind me yelling out things like "Look out, they're behind you" as the scarecrow, the tin man and the cowardly lion are about to get jumped by the wicked witch's henchmen. A perfect evening. The crowd was thin, but seemed to be picking up for the second half of the double feature, "The Godfather," which started too late for me to enjoy on a school night.

Throw in food, which I did not try on my first venture, and you've got a genuine possibility - with the right movies - of drawing more people to downtown.

What kind of movies? For me, movies with great dialogue are the best for viewing in a group. Anything by Kevin Smith, especially "Clerks," fits the bill. How about a double feature of Wes Anderson's "Bottle Rocket," which brought Luke and Owen Wilson to the world, and then the even-better "Rushmore"?

"Almost Famous" and "Dazed and Confused" would be big draws, as would anything by Quentin Tarantino. And, of course, the sublimely silly "Napoleon Dynamite." I could go on forever, but you get the idea. Just think of the movies that make you smile, then think how much fun it would be to see them on the big screen again with a bunch of friends.

My boss, Oby Brown, always one for big ideas, wants to rent the place out for a double feature of "Cool Hand Luke" followed by "Sling Blade." A Southerner's dream lineup, I'd say.

Will this actually work? Who knows, but I'll do my part to support it, and I hope you all will too.

As the final credits were rolling on "The Wizard of Oz" I also had some darker thoughts. Although I love "The Wiz," having seen it on Broadway, I breathed a sigh of relief that no one else has had the nerve to more conventionally remake the original.

Imagine what might happen if it fell into the hands of a soulless remake machine like Tim Burton. The first thing Burton would do is skip the trouble of finding all those adorable little munchkins and instead just use one little guy and re-create his image over and over digitally like in Burton's purely purile take on "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory."

Secondly, I could see some hack taking the poppy field followed by snow to its illogical extreme, having the wicked witch instead try to stop our heroes with an opium den, only to have good witch Glenda pick them back up with a hit of cocaine. Perhaps we could even get a cameo visit from the Snowman himself, Macon's own Young Jeezy.

But that would never happen, would it? Keep your fingers crossed that "The Wizard of Oz" will remain, as it has for so many decades, untouchable.