Sometimes moments of clarity are experienced in the most unexpected of places.
Such was the case this past weekend when I attended a showing of Under the Skin at the Century 9 San Francisco Centre.
I had seen the film earlier in the week at a press screening, but was so mystified upon first viewing that I
duped persuaded my friends into coming along for the unnerving, Kubrickian ride.
Round two of Jonathan Glazer’s moody and meditative visual splendor was less obfuscating, though still perplexing and always fascinating.
No matter, a minor revelation was made by this writer soon after leaving the theater: San Francisco contains a wonderfully wide array of moviegoers, all with their own unique tastes in contemporary cinema.
Allow me to explain.
This past Tuesday I caught Draft Day, the latest sports film starring the always charismatic Kevin Costner.
Directed by Ivan Reitman, the film casts Costner as the general manager of the Cleveland Browns, forced to make gold out of lead during the most stressful 24-hours in the NFL: draft day.
Reitman’s film is filled with a whole bunch of inside-baseball jargon and references that will only appeal to those who consume ESPN religiously. While perfectly enjoyable for those folks, the film is ultimately too concerned with the trite romance at the center of the picture.
Quality of the film aside, it was the people who attended the promo screening that piqued my interest.
The crowded theater was replete with a middle-school football team, the coaches of that team, and an assortment of San Francisco 49ers and Cleveland Browns fans.
Throughout the movie audience members hooted, hollered and cheered. They weren’t terribly obnoxious. They were excited, enjoying every moment of Draft Day.
Still, when the film ended I was left with the unshakable feeling that this is the type of movie Costner would’ve starred in (and made better) 20-years ago.
His charm and verve (which can be seen in his holy trinity of baseball movies, Bull Durham, Field of Dreams and For the Love of the Game) is wasted by a script that has little interest in exploring how draft day affects those who are being drafted, the prospective college students whose ambitions to play pro ball are on the line.
Regardless, these people were happy to be there.
Jump ahead to Under the Skin on Saturday — with a wholly different crowd. Those who entered Glazer’s latest unflinching and uncompromising excursion seemed to know damn well what they were getting themselves into.
Consequently, no one walked out of the picture before the credits began to roll (though all three of my friends, bored and baffled by the movie, surely wanted to).
For an analysis of the film — which beautifully and eerily observes the human experience through the eyes of an extraterrestrial — seek out Matt Zoller Seitz’s piece at RogerEbert.com.
The point is that, in a matter of five days, I encountered two wildly different types of moviegoers, with two wildly different appetites for movies, at the same multiplex.
While that conclusion may be seen as obvious or minor to the locals reading, keep in mind that outside of booming metropolitans like San Francisco, diversity in people and thought are not so ubiquitous.
This city, like New York City, Los Angeles or Chicago, is a vibrant, sundry milieu that offers a plethora of choices when it comes to the arts, especially cinema.
For too long I had forgotten how privileged we are to have the possibilities most people in other states and cities are not afforded. Let’s not take it for granted.