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Saturday, April 3, 2021

We went to the Spectrum!

Here's the evidence. You can see our
assigned seats highlighted in yellow
by the box office attendant.
I've been regularly attending movies at Albany's Spectrum 8 Theatre since it opened in 1983 (and its progenitor Third Street Theater for years before that), so you can imagine the excitement my companion and I felt last night as we set out to see Minari on the first day this venue was operating in more than a year. It was like being a kid again.

You also may be surprised to learn that I do not have Netflix (nor Amazon Prime, nor Hulu, etc. - not even cable TV), so with the theaters shut down since last March, and the library prohibiting on-site browsing until a week or two ago, the last year has had its challenges for my movie viewing habit. This was somewhat alleviated by the following compromises:

  1. Netflix et al at a friend's house: A few of my friends and I came to an understanding early in the pandemic that we would trust each other's behavior enough to remain in each other's pods (thankfully, with perfect results, i.e. none of us got or transmitted COVID). And one of those couples has a bunch of streaming services and a generous heart. So, from time to time, we'd make a movie date and the four of us would cozy up in their living room to watch something special (among them: My Octopus Teacher).
  2. Borrowing from the library (in my case, Albany Public): This has always been a primary source for me, both to pick up on recent stuff that I'd somehow missed (often due to too-short local runs) and to fill in any of the many gaps in my viewing history. Once the library began to accommodate curbside pickup, I began to regularly request and then borrow whatever I could think of to ask for that they had available (trickier than browsing, as you have to know what to look for, but still quite useful).
  3. Hoopla: Another library service, this is a free streaming platform (well, free to use - I assume the library pays something for it) that has a very big selection of not always very desirable movies (from what I've heard, Kanopy is better, but Albany doesn't offer it). Through that, we haven't seen any current or recent hits, but in a pinch it proved to be a lifesaver, and we discovered some really cool stuff, especially documentaries (such as one about the thousands of rabbits that flourished in the no-man's-land between the two sides of the Berlin Wall).
  4. Pay-per-view streaming: Some films that probably would have come to the Spectrum had it been open were not available on any of the other services, and could only be seen by paying a fee. Considering that we would have gladly forked over a twenty to see the best of these in the theater, paying $12 to watch them at home was well worth it (that's the usual rate for good stuff, though some movies are cheaper, depending on the source). This was great, once we got it going, but there were a couple of hitches at first, due to our not being hooked up for streaming to begin with. The really tricky part was finding an adapter to connect my new-ish laptop to our 12-year-old unsmart TV - and then waiting several weeks for it to be delivered, back when global commerce was totally disrupted by the "Wuhan" virus. But it worked out pretty great in the end, highlighted by our viewing of my favorite movie of 2020, Martin Eden

By the way, last night was the fourth time I've been to the actual movies since the pandemic re-openings began, and my recent experiences seeing two films at The Madison Theatre in Albany, and one at Criterion Cinemas in Saratoga Springs were very good - I will gladly return to either of them as needed. 

But, now, we have our favorite Spectrum again, and I am stoked, both for the sheer pleasure of it and because it means it won't be long before I've seen enough of the best films of last year to be able to write my annual roundup - maybe even before they announce 2020's belated Oscar winners.

Note for the potentially nervous: At all three theaters I've attended, you get an assigned seat, there's plenty of distance between groups, and masks are required - so it's as safe as you're going to get in this world.


Roger Owen Green said...

If I go there - and my wife won't at this point - it'll be to see Mank or the shorts, because I can see the others some other way. But if they brought Judas and the Black Messiah or Ma Rainey, those I'd see.

John Rowen said...

David. Thanks for this great news. What did you think of “Minari?”

david brickman said...

To Roger - I think Judas will be coming to The Spectrum soon (I saw it at The Madison and it was excellent!).
To John - Wouldn't want to be a spoiler, will weigh in on Minari when I post my annual roundup. Stay tuned! ;^)