The closing of York Square Cinemas this summer was a crushing blow to Yale cineastes. At least it seemed like it at the time. But New Haven rallied valiantly to make sure we don’t have to resort to $40 cab rides to Orange to get our fix. Criterion Cinemas, the glitteringly new theater way down on Temple Street (who knew they made those flashing marquees anymore?) had the brilliant notion to show bona fide classics on Thursdays, Fridays and Sundays this year. And when it rains, it pours: the tickets are discounted, at last ending the tyranny of the $10 movies. And there are mimosas.
The Thursday/Friday film series “Insomnia Theater” shows all manner of cult classics at 11:30 p.m. The series began in August with the mockumentary/rockumentary “This Is Spinal Tap,” which spawned Chrisopher Guest’s glorious series of improvised comedies. It’s hard to think of a funnier film, but “Monty Python and the Holy Grail” and “Clerks,” which followed on subsequent weeks, come close.
Tonight (Friday), the series takes a darker turn with “A Clockwork Orange,” Stanley Kurbrick’s 1971 love-letter to ultraviolence, adolescent psychology and Beethoven. There are few better people to spend your night with than Malcom McDowell, who played the film’s sex-starved hero with such manic aplomb that people still impersonate his fake eyelash and white jumpsuit on Halloween.
Upcoming films include “The Terminator,” James Cameron’s first masterpiece. The film is campy but surprisingly dark; few remember that the Governator played the bad-guy before graduating to lifesaver in “Judgement Day,” and that he plays the first five minutes without pants. At the end of the month is John Waters’ 1974 “Female Trouble,” a film that had the chronological misfortune of following up the masterful “Pink Flamingos.” But it’s hard to resist the star of both films, Divine, Waters’ cross-dressing behemoth of a heroine.
Joe Masher, Criterion’s general manager, said the theater plans to show horror films for the entire month of October, culminating with John Carpenter’s quintessential “Halloween” Oct. 28.
Camp classics on late Friday nights might be a good thing, but the added lure of early-morning alcohol makes “Movies and Mimosas” all the more special. The Sunday series, which shows classic films at 11 a.m., includes $2 drinks.
“We lure people in with cheap booze,” Masher said.
“Movies and Mimosas” ran its first film, “On the Waterfront,” in early July. The event sells out nearly every week, perhaps due to a lack of other entertainment options (let alone those with cheap liquor) on Sunday mornings.
What’s next for the Criterion and New Haven’s film options? A theater run by the same company in Aspen, Colo. has held “New Moms Matinees” for over a year. The theater accommodates mothers’ needs by providing changing tables in the theater and keeping the house lights at half-strength so moms can feed their young ones. Most importantly, mothers can bring the youngest of squalling infants without fear of incurring the wrath of the rest of the audience. New Haven would only be so lucky.
For now, we can rejoice in our midnight and Sunday morning options, not to mention more plentiful on-campus choices.
The Yale Medical School Film Society boasts an impressive lineup as usual (“Born Into Brothels,” “Murderball” and “Batman Begins,” among others.) And, thankfully, the recently revived Yale Film Society is looking better than ever. On Sept. 30, the group is cosponsoring a screening of David Lynch’s “Lost Highway,” after which the mad master himself will give a talk entitled “Consciousness, Creativity, and the Brain.”
As if that weren’t enough, there’s also the new “The Cinema at Whitney,” a coalition of graduate and undergrad students that shows classic 35mm films on Friday nights. If you’re not satisfied with ultraviolence, naked governators and Jamie Lee Curtis, then you can get your fill of the macabre with “Don’t Look Now” and “Invasion of the Body Snatchers,” two 70s classics playing on Halloween weekend.