Friday, July 7, 2006

Catching a Movie Under the Stars -- and Next to a Few Buried Ones, Too

Maria, Blogger Baby and I headed to the Hollywood Forever cemetery last Saturday to finally check out the Cinespia screening series. The weather cooled down by evening, making for a perfect setting to enjoy some time outdoors (well, except for the pesky Junebugs). We munched on a picnic dinner, while a DJ spun electronic and other grooves, as we waited for last week's classic movie (in this case, "Dr. Strangelove, or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb").


Yes, it is a tad sacreligious -- but hey, this is Hollywood Forever, right? I'm sure the people at rest here understand.


It all takes place in the Fairbanks Garden

Oh yeah, did I mention that we were dining, grooving and viewing in a cemetery? Clearly, that's part of the draw for Cinespia, which has become a hugely popular event. A crowd of more than 1,000 attended "Dr. Strangelove" -- and keep in mind, this was a holiday weekend. The event is so heavily attended that it was much harder to get inside than I thought. The line of cars snaked down Santa Monica Blvd. in both directions, while another option -- parking outside the cemetery and walking in -- meant standing in a long, twisty line (not a good idea with a toddler in tow).

Through sheer luck, we managed to drive inside Hollywood Forever fairly quickly, and parked on the west side of the cemetery after handing over $10 each (Blogger Baby was free, however). We somehow found Third and Fairfax's Santos (who'd invited us to join her on the lawn as part of her birthday celebration) in the sea of people and shared in her bounty of Whole Foods finds and homemade goodies.


On the lawn


Movies are projected on the side of the Fairbanks memorial wall

I was impressed by the whole Cinespia experience. The sound system was excellent, and you could make out the screen (projected on the side of the Douglas Fairbanks Sr. and Jr. memorial) even from the back of the meadow, where we sat. The crowd was hushed, and actually paid attention to the movie. I'd never seen "Dr. Strangelove" (I know, I know) and was blown away by how relevant and contemporary the film feels -- and was reminded of the genius of Peter Sellers.


The picnic spread

On her site, Santos shares a few more Cinespia tips:

--arrive early as there can be a significant crowd. people and cars start lining up around 6.30pm the gates open at 7.30pm. parking along the side streets of gower and van ness is usually available.

--wear comfortable shoes and clothing. bring a sweater or jacket as it can get chilly at night; as the summer progresses into autumn, the nights will get colder, so you may even want to bring a blanket. bring a blanket, towel, or low beach chair to sit in/on (no "high" chairs are allowed).

--there are restrooms available on the grounds, but no food concessions. schlepping of goods is inevitable, so don't weigh yourself down with too many things unless you know you can park on the grounds.

Upcoming Cinespia screenings include "Repo Man" (July 8); "The Big Sleep" (July 15); and "Dressed to Kill" (July 22).

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