Although the struggle between art and commerce has been waged since the advent of humanity, there was nevertheless, on Saturday morning in Montgomery, a beautiful excerpt from the front lines.
It happened in the lobby of our treasured arthouse movie theater, The Capri, and it was captured in the trajectory of the blindly swinging elbows of the obese man, sweatily trying to unroll a movie poster. Although we left the poster sale only minutes ago, I have already forgotten whether he was wearing a shirt with a character from Hayao Miyazaki’s Spirited Away on the front, unrolling a poster from a Francois Truffaut film, or perhaps the other way around.
You see, this enthusiastic shopper was one of many — an innumerable mass, really — that had descended upon The Capri to acquire (at low, low prices) what is evidently the highest art form that America has to offer. The sale was not of the movies themselves, which people probably screen on Netflix while doing God-knows-what. Rather, they were seeking to grab up the paper advertisements for the “indy” films, perfect for hanging in the hipster home, loft, or dorm room. Soon, someone will be getting the poster for Goodbye Lenin! as a gift, offering an awkward thanks, having no idea that the giver of the gift nearly got pressed to death in a poster sale that called to mind the Hillsborough soccer crush.
We thought we were smart to arrive a few minutes before the doors were scheduled to open. We suspected trouble when we joined the line at the corner in front of Sinclair’s. We felt pity when we reached the door of the theater and looked back and saw that the line was now extended back around the block. We felt remorse when we saw that the movie posters were not unrolled, not attached to cardboard backers, and were, in fact, in tubes (which were jammed into boxes) and were somehow linked to a numerical coding system. We felt fear when we saw that the crowd, many of whom had browsed the list of posters ahead of time, had no idea what numbers were linked to their desired posters and, as a result, were frantically unrolling, re-rolling, and crinkling various posters in a hurricane of outstretched arms, flying elbows, cardboard tubes, and movie nerd sweat.
Our arthouse movie theater does not possess a very large lobby, and the people that had been standing in line for 30 minutes or so in the Alabama July sun were anxious to crush into the lobby, get some air conditioning, and beat the mob in the quest to find that poster of Mifune’s Last Song. Codes? Numbers? Must buy something! Adding to the crazy was the fact that it appeared that the crowd (in full consumer conquest mode) smelled bargains that could be re-sold on E-Bay. And the fact that The Capri is currently screening Will Ferrell’s Everything Must Go didn’t help. People probably read the theater marquee and assumed that this was some sort of going out of business sale.
Not sure how long this link will be up, but the list of available posters is here. We hope they sell them all, since we love and support our theater and want them to have as much space and money as they need. We just hope the mob didn’t make off with the popcorn machine and we’re glad we got out alive.
Anybody want to sell us a really cheap poster from Waltz with Bashir?