Tuesday, March 13, 2007

You Haven't Seen a Movie Until You've Seen One At the Alamo Drafthouse

I could have sworn I wrote this exact same post last year, but I can't find it in the Termite Art-chives. But even if I had, I really can't stress it enough: no movie fan should go a lifetime without seeing a movie at the Alamo Drafthouse. Frankly, I'm not entire sure you can call yourself a movie fan before you've made the pilgrimage -- it's like movie mecca, or something.

The Drafthouse is actually a chain (franchise opportunities are available!) but the experience is the same at each one. Seating is stadium-style, and in front of each row is a lengthy table, with extensive menus, replete with sandwiches, salads, pizzas, dessert, and — wait for it — alcohol. You write your order down, stick it out the end of the table, and one of the Drafthouse's surprisingly quick staff (surprisingly because if you made me wait tables in a movie theater I'd spend most of the time staring at the screen) grabs it and gets your order. You sit in relaxed splendor and have your order served to you while you watch the film. The mood is light, spirits are high, and the atmosphere is warm and positive. It's hard to not enjoy yourself at the Drafthouse.

In other words it is the greatest innovation in movie watching since Technicolor. Not every cinematic experience could be improved via the Drafthouse (I think I'd pass on The Sorrow and the Pity Alamo-style), but most could. Particularly comedies, where the free-flowing booze definitely increasing audience propensity towards vocal response, and horror, because when people are watching really gory disgusting movies while chowing on bacon cheeseburgers, there's a chance somebody could puke everywhere, and that makes it even scarier.

I've seen a couple good movies here at SXSW '07 (Who knew Gregg Araki was so freakin' funny?!?), but the one night we could get over to the Drafthouse, nothing looked good (and by the time we arrived the one potential option was already sold out). Some fools went home, but two of us stayed to watch Reno 911!: Miami. Now, I am not a Reno fan — I'm not morally opposed to it, I've just never really gotten into it. But it looked like a dumb comedy, and that's perfect for the Drafthouse (In one of my two previous Drafthouse experiences I'd seen Talladega Nights which was a perfect meeting of movie and venue).

It's a pretty funny movie, and I would have thought so even if I'd watched it all by myself on my television at home, but in the Drafthouse, it mutates into a transcendant experience. No commercials before the movie begins at the Drafthouse, just cool shorts that relate to the movie you're there to see. In this case, it was Reno 911! trivia. Amongst the well-selected trailers and coming attractions for awesome-sounding Drafthouse events (how about a night of the best commercials of the 1980s?) were some really weird and delightful treats — including a absurd/hilarious trailer for a 20-year-old Judge Reinhold cop movie. I don't know who programs the films and the preshow but their aesthetic is maybe the best blend of cool and geeky in the universe.

As for our menu selections? We'd foolishly eaten dinner elsewhere, so it was dessert: freshly baked cookies and what was, sincerely, one of the best milkshakes I'd ever had in my life. Their secret: fresh whipped cream and mini-M&M's. The massive sugar high only enhanced the laughs. It was a great time.

Bless you Drafthouse. Bless your sticky-floored heart.


Blogger Justin said...

Those weren't MnMs, they were chocolate covered sunflower seeds (even better)! Thanks for the compliments even though our floor is not sticky ;)

11:53 PM  
Blogger Matt Singer said...

Hrm, well not even better if you're not supposed to eat seeds of any kind and the next day you get a mysterious stomachache -- aha says I! (You may want to make note of this on the menu)

And, yes the sticky floor remark was purely in jest. The floors are very non-sticky.

8:43 PM  

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