July 27, 2006

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Concord Publisher's Note: You ain’t heard nothin’ yet
By Dan Szczesny

Concord is a long way from Hollywood.

But, surprisingly, movies offer a lot of potential for building the Capitol City’s sense of place and identity within the region.

Anyone watching the steel rising on the new Capitol Commons project is seeing progress on that front. The building, when complete next year, will house the facilities of the long-planned Red River Theatres project.

This means downtown Concord will boast a complex of two film theaters and a video screening room dedicated to showing independent, unusual or classic movies. What’s more, the facilities will also host festivals and other events that bring people together.

What’s so special about this? It’s important to remember that as an art form, much of cinema is designed to be a shared experience. Many films—including nearly all made prior to the video age—are designed from the ground up to be projected on a big screen in darkened theater full of people reacting to what they see.

These days, deep in the age of the home entertainment center, it’s sometimes easy to forget how important that environment is to the magic of the movies. And today, there are few places where films—classics and new ones alike—can be seen in the proper conditions.

But when Red River Theatres opens for business, Concord will suddenly be in the forefront of the movie exhibition circuit. If it all works out, the city will be an important destination for film buffs from far and wide, depending on the kind of programming that’s mounted.

So far, the results have been encouraging. Anyone who attended the Red River screening last April of Safety Last, Harold Lloyd’s classic 1923 silent film, knows how an 80-year-old picture can spring to life with the right music and an audience that’s into it.

And coming up this fall, Red River is bringing horror film director George Romero to Concord for a double-feature presentation of his work and a post-film Q & A at the Capitol Center for the Arts. (For more info, check out www.redrivertheatres.org.)

All this in Concord? It just shows the potential of the Red River Theatre project, even before their new screening complex is open. As Al Jolson said in his ground-breaking 1927 Warner Bros. talking picture, “You ain’t heard nothin’ yet.”

Need more proof of the value of screening movies? Look south to Manchester for the four-day “Thelma Todd Celebration” that runs from Thursday, July 27, through Sunday, July 30.

Todd, a 1930s star who worked the Marx Brothers and Laurel and Hardy, would have celebrated her 100th birthday this weekend. So some film enthusiasts are using the occasion to screen four full days of vintage films (mostly short comedies) at a variety of venues around the Queen City.

The highlight comes on Saturday, July 29,at 7 p.m. at the Palace Theatre, where organizers will recreate a night at the movies circa 1933, the peak year of Thelma Todd’s career.

Hippo is a sponsor of this festival, and I encourage you to check it out. For more info, visit www.looserthanloose.org or call 624-6094. Hope to see you there!


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