The suddenly rather controversial* new indie documentary called Out of Print starts out as little more than a sincere if slightly florid love letter to Los Angeles’ beloved “New Beverly” movie theater — but as just as the participants seem to reach the end of the “why we love this place” angle, that’s when things start to get really interesting. If you’re a fan of film, filmmakers, and the dying art of quality repertory exhibition, that is.
Directed by longtime employee and passionate New Beverly cheerleader Julia Marchese, Out of Print can be broken down into the pretty distinct sections:
1. The “New Bev” is a great place to see old films in Los Angeles, and there are dozens of people who can attest to this opinion.
2. The importance of “film community” in regards to independently-owned movie theaters. Art geeks have museums; music junkies have concerts; film buffs need real theaters run by true cineastes.
3. A broad but very helpful look at the recent “war” between old-school 35mm exhibition and the new-fangled digital format that seems to have overtaken the planet in the last ten years.
All three sections are stocked with great interview segments, and some of the most interesting stuff comes from the “regular Joes / Janes” who hang out of the New Beverly. Film buffs will find some sweet anecdotes and compelling insights from filmmakers like Joe Carnahan (The Grey), Edgar Wright (Shaun of the Dead), Joe Dante (Gremlins), Stuart Gordon (Re-Animator), Rian Johnson (Looper), Richard Kelly (Donnie Darko), Kevin Smith (Clerks), John Landis (Animal House), and several more, but some of the best stuff comes from the “New Bev” projectionists, programmers, and loyal fans. (If nothing else, the final third of Out of Print serves as a great introduction on the topic of “Why Film Should Matter.”)
So while Out of Print sometimes feels like three miniature documentaries played in succession, the simple truth is that there’s a lot here for film aficionados to appreciate: we should all have a local movie theater as cool as the New Beverly; we should all have a group of movie freak pals we can lean on; and we should all take a look at what the “death” of 35mm film exhibition actually means to those of us who love movies.
*One could say “suddenly rather controversial” because Ms. Marchese recently parted ways with the New Beverly (and its new owners), and let’s just say it was not an amicable divorce. She tells her side of the story (and offers Out of Print, free of charge, to those who’d like to see it) in this blog post.