I had the opportunity to experience the definition of 'local color' this weekend. I went to see Transamerica on Saturday night at the Town Theatre in Highland, Indiana. Very nice movie, and even better was the theater experience.
The Town is one of my favorite places to go to the show. Depending on whom you ask, it is described as a palace (by me) or a dump (by most everybody else). What it factually is, though, is a small cinderblock auditorium on Kennedy Avenue built in 1946. It primarily shows 'art house' films, and it looks (inside and out) just like it did 40 years ago. They even use most of the original projection equipment. The seating itself is indescribeable, which is why I'm glad I have this picture for you:
(yes, those are suits of armor and statues of Greek philosophers up front. Why? Your guess is as good as mine...)
The physical qualities of the Town aren't what make it special, though. Tickets are $5.00, and when you walk in, you are greeted by one of the owners who takes tickets. He is an older man who sits in this chair in between the original metal ticket box on one side and his little chihuahua-dalmatian mix mutt named Pepe on the other side. A big tub of popcorn is $2.75 and they have a 'two free passes' giveaway every week. About halfway through whatever film they happen to be showing, they stop and have intermission and serve free coffee and cake in the tiny lobby. Everyone gets to stretch their legs, visit the restroom and talk about the film (or about what they overheard everyone else talking about).
I especially love going there with my mom because she'll tell me about how things were when she was growing up. The walls inside the auditorium look a little greasy, and apparently you used to be able to smoke during the movie. The seats are divided into three sections - left, center and right. The left side was reserved for the smokers. Other fun facts: in the evenings, the high school kids would sit towards the back center and make out (some things never change), and on Saturdays kids would go and sit through two or even three showings.
Anyway, I recognize that the Town is not picture perfect with the latest and greatest technology, but it is an experience that you won't get many other places. It's stepping into the past when things weren't homogenized, sanitized and supersized. It's not just about seeing a film, it's about being part of a community.