Tonight we stayed in Williamsburg and walked over to East River State Park for the Summer Starz free movie, The Incredibles.
There was a surprisingly small audience of families with kids, young couples, a few hipsters (including mommies and daddies) and a few of us oldsters. But as the sun set and the river breezes cooled us off, it was a really nice, intimate, pleasant way to while away a midsummer night.
The movies that they're showing at Summer Starz are all kid-friendly, from animated ones like tonight's The Incredibles or Babe or Wall-E. Next Thursday is Bend It Like Beckham. According to the postcard we picked up one morning at the Greenpoint Starbucks, the Thursday events start with a children's hour at 6 p.m. (tonight, for example, Rock City Theatrics, a Williamsburg kids' theater workshop, was scheduled) and then live music at 7 p.m. (tonight a Staten Island band Fenix Down, which we've seen described as red-state hard rock with a video game feel) but we didn't get to the park until after 8 p.m., just a few minutes before the movie started.
There were some families at picnic tables, and the kids near us came back to the table with hot dogs, telling their parents, "They're free!" There was free popcorn as well. We moved around a little but mostly sat on one of those little concrete parts, maybe 18 inches high around the perimeter of the concrete. Some families were watching from picnic blankets on the grass to the side.
SummerStarz 2009 is sponsored by Town Square, which says on its website that it's
a volunteer community-based 501(c)(3) organization in Greenpoint and Williamsburg, Brooklyn, two neighborhoods experiencing dynamic changes. Founded in 2005, our mission is to build a vibrant community and enrich the quality of our lives through activities that inspire creativity and imagination, teach respect and cooperation, and celebrate the joy around us.
This is the fifth year of SummerStarz, which was previously held in McCarren Park. The big sponsor is The Edge, and the woman introducing the evening's film gestured to the towers looming over the south side of the park. Before the movie, we got to see this ad for the condo on Kent Avenue:
We first saw The Incredibles soon after it opened, on the weekend after the 2004 election when John Kerry lost to President Bush and we lost our race against Florida Republican Congressman Ander Crenshaw. We were living in Davie, Broward County, Florida, and we saw it near our apartment at the AMC Ridge Plaza 8 on State Road 84 off I-595. It made us feel better than and we enjoyed it tonight. A.O. Scott, putting it on his ten best list for 2004, called it "[a]n almost-great movie about the dangers of mediocrity, and a drama of midlife frustration cleverly dressed up as kid-pleasing action fantasy."
The generator on the truck to the side made some noise, but we could hear the action (whenever there were words or subtitles - from a French-speaking villain in the movie, there were Spanish subtitles). The film stopped dead once - "a small glitch, also known as an 'oops,'" said one of the presenters - but it started up where it left off after about seven minutes. (Still, a bunch of families with sleepy kids took that time to leave.)
It was a pleasant evening, and the view of the river, the skyline, the planes and boast going by, made for a nice atmosphere.
Back when we lived in Florida, we went to the movies nearly once every weekend for a matinee back when it cost us six dollars. There were some great theaters in Broward County, mostly the Gateway in Fort Lauderdale and the Sunrise 11 closer to where we lived in West Broward, that then played lots of art, indie, foreign and gay-themed films.
Here in New York the last three years, because of the high prices and our more limited income, we have only gone to regular movies twice. We miss it, but New York offers us other pleasures, and we get to go to a bunch of free screenings from the wonderful School of Visual Arts, where we teach writing and literature to photography and animation major.
We miss going to first-run movies.
(Painting by Mikayla Butchart)
On Monday evening at the amazingly excellent McNally Jackson bookstore in Soho, we'll be reading our piece "The Forgotten Movie Screens of Broward County" from the recently-published anthology Life As We Show It: Writing on Film, co-edited by Brian Pera and Masha Tupitsyn.
Joining us will be Masha and Donal Mosher, the talented Portland-based writer/filmmaker/photographer, who will read from his essay on the making of October Country, which he co-directed with Michael Palmieri and which just had its international premiere at the Locarno Film Festival.
October Country, which documents the multi-generational story of Donal's working-class family - won the SILVERDOCS Sterling Award for best US Feature last month. “We have chosen a film that has resonated with us long after we viewed it,” the Sterling Award Jury said of October in a statement. “It is a film that is subtle and intuitively creative while presenting important social issues in a surprising way.”
We hope you can come to hear us read at McNally Jackson on Monday at 7 p.m.