Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Something Worthwhile in Wheaton

Disclaimer: The following post deals with something in Wheaton. I generally try to refrain from writing anything about the areas surrounding Silver Spring, but since this is essentially next door and it's technically part of Silver Spring according to Google Maps, I'll make this one exception.

When I first heard the announcement about the planned opening of the Montgomery Cinema 'N' Drafthouse in Wheaton, I was all like "meh", but upon further reflection, this is a more fortuitous development than I initially surmised. Admittedly, I didn't know much about the Drafthouse, it being in Virginia, a location just as convenient as Timbuktu as far as I'm concerned. I primarily associated cinema drafthouses with the old Bethesda one, which I didn't have a great fondness for when it was open due to its less than stellar A/V quality. That and the fact that the Wheaton theater's current state is terrible. I may bitch about the Majestic, but you couldn't pay me to go to a movie in the Wheaton theater. Sadly, I remember being happy when it opened as it was a big upgrade from the theaters inside Wheaton Plaza.

(As a side note: the one memory of that theater that always sticks with me is when I went to go see Boyz n the Hood and half of the sold-out audience gave a long standing ovation during the scene where Ice Cube and his boys went and shot the guys who killed his brother. I was only fifteen at the time but even I could tell that they were kind of missing the whole point of the movie...)

My interest in the drafthouse increased after perusing the website and noting the following features that appealed to me:

Live Redskins Games: Watching Redskins games in a theater is a cheap way to enjoy the fan camaraderie of the stadium without having to go to Raljon Landover and pay Dan Snyder $25 to park on the other side of the Beltway. Maybe they could even allow tailgating in the Wheaton Plaza parking lot. You can also leave early and not feel guilty.

Cult Movie Events: Yes, it's a second-rate ripoff of Lebowski Fest, but the Arlington Cinema and Drafthouse is hosting a Big Lewbowski Movie & Music night next Thursday. It's almost enough to get me to go into Virginia. If they had this same thing in Wheaton, I'd be there in a second. (Note: this is the one and only instance where I'd consider attending something called "Dude Fest". There's a Little Larry Sellers joke in there, but I'll let you tell that one to yourself.) In addition to the Lewbowski event, they've also got one for Office Space.

Special Promotional Screenings: Last year, the Arlington location had had screening of Die Hard followed by Hot Fuzz (which I love) and a Q&A with Edgar Wright, Simon Pegg and Nick Frost. Now, I dunno if Wheaton would get that kind of stuff, or if it would be reserved for the original location... kind of like I fear would be the case with the 9:30 club and Silver Spring.

Live Comedy: Granted, I don't go to comedy shows very frequently, but if I could get to one in ten minutes, I'd probably be more likely to. The Arlington C&D has a number of comedians scheduled, many of whom I've even heard of.

I'm interested to see how much they invest in fixing up the theater, because that would go a long way in exorcising the demons of the dumpy establishment that preceded the drafthouse. Perhaps they could even host a Rock Band Night, ahem.


Thayer Avenue said...

Rock Band would be flippin' sweet at the Drafthouse. And I could envision some movie series for which AFI would be too highbrow:

- Bob & Doug McKenzie
- Highlander (except #2)
- Naked Gun
- Police Academy
- National Lampoon's... (pick one)
- C-class horror (Toxic Avenger, etc.)

Or hokey themed festivals:

- Movies starring rock stars
- Movies with a color in the title (Oprah not allowed)
- Movies starring Courtney Thorne-Smith

And what about TV miniseries that would be popular and are never played any more?

- Wild Palms (best EVER)
- The Lost Room
- Dune
- Steven Spielberg presents Taken

The possibilities are endless...

Bonifant more sinister than Thayer said...

Movies starring either of the Coreys.


Midnight showings of Rocky Horror Picture Show.

Pootie Tang

Sligo said...

Midnight showings of Reservoir Dogs.

Jake said...

As a (amateur) comedian and (transplanted) Silver Spring resident, I whole-heartedly approve of the Wheaton Theater, if only for the comedy shows, I've shlepped over to the Arlington location a bunch of times and have never left disappointed (except for the food, whaddaya gonna do?) Whoever books the shows there has a very keen eye for talent and they don't book any duds.


Anonymous said...

From the you-may-be-interested category:
the Minneapolis area once had a couple of these beer/dinner/movie theater places, and they were brilliant. At their best, they managed to combine the feeling of comfortably hanging out at home on a couch with decent service, good beer, and a quality screen.

There's something similar in Oakland, CA as well, the legendary Parkway Theater (http://www.parkway-speakeasy.com/index.php) , an old speakeasy and decaying movie palace that is an amazing venue for Hot Fuzz-type movies.

I'm thrilled that the Drafthouse is coming to Wheaton. If it's half as good as the Parkway, I'll be there way too often. Let there be movies and beer!