Side By Side in North Hollywood

Location: 5240 Lankershim Boulevard, North Hollywood

It was so warm this past Saturday, I didn’t even bother putting on makeup. It would have just melted ten minutes later and that would probably be a worse look than scaring my fellow Angelenos by going au-natural. It also added 5 more minutes to my life by not sitting in front of a mirror waving makeup brushes and mascara wands across my face. Let’s be honest, there’s nothing worse than feeling like your pores are clogging from the mixture of sweat and makeup. Yuck!

Back on topic…

In addition to this great tip for the ladies; another great way to beat the heat and kill two birds with one stone, man or woman? Spend some money to sit in public central air conditioning while catching a flick!

I crossed another Laemmle off my list this weekend when I went to enjoy the air conditioning, best popcorn ever, and Keanu Reeves’s new engaging documentary Side by Side at the Laemmle Theater in North Hollywood.

This facility is the most commercial and updated of all of the ones that I’ve been to (5 out of the 9 theaters). It features stadium-style seating, bathrooms where the door actually closes, digital monitors for everything from displaying showtimes to concession stand prices, and an all around cleanliness that – ahem – lacks somewhat at the other locations (but gives them lots of charisma anyway).

What I admire about the North Hollywood venue is that while it is updated, the theater still manages to hold its charm. There was only one ticket taker for all 7 theaters and the lobby and concessions area were relatively small, creating a quaintness that I like when choosing a Laemmle over say, an AMC. This location tends to play more mainstream films based on the programming I’ve seen, which is unusual in my experience from the other 4 theaters I go to that stick to independent and foreign cinema options only. The prices for popcorn are still reasonable and they even have Coke Zero, which always adds a touch of class. I spent $6.75 for a small popcorn AND and regular soda. I’d consider this a huge plus in this age of complete hijacking of movie-lovers’ wallets at the concession stand.

Side by Side is a film well-crafted and alluring to anyone who cares about the state of the movie-making business. It brings to light the question that the industry and filmmakers alike have debated for the last 20 years, yet with more urgency as the industry continues to change: will digital production techniques eventually replace the modus operandi of shooting on celluloid/film?

I walked out of the central air conditioning and into the summer heat feeling like I heard both sides of the story and got into the heads of those at the top of their game to offer their point of view. My opinion? At the end of the day I am a story lover and a believer in aesthetics first and foremost. I feel that the choice to shoot digitally or on film should be left up to the person who feels whichever method works for telling their story best. That being said, I do hope that we keep the option open for the filmmaker to decide and don’t create an environement that forces them to have to work in a digital format against their wishes. Part of the beauty of being an artist is the right to choose.