|09.28.05||Rolling Roadshow|| OK, this was kind of a special event. Apparently this sold out faster than any Alamo event ever (although i bet QT6 badges went quicker). What it was: an advance (a few days still counts as advance, right?) screening of Serenity held in an Old West Town outside of town with cast members Summer Glau and Jewel Staite (hot! even in person!) in attendance. Oh, and I totally got in for free. Well, not exactly for free, but after buying my Fantastic Fest badge they announced that badgeholders could attend so it's pretty much for free... just like the Domino premiere on Sunday (tune in for that one!).|
So this Old West Town was actually Reimers' Ranch. Ok, what's Reimers' Ranch? Well, it's where the built the set for the recent remake of The Alamo, and according to Hollywood, it's the largest free-standing set ever built in North America. A lot of qualifiers, I know, but still! So it wasn't shown in just some old town with a longhorn skull duct-taped to a general store, it was shown IN THE ALAMO!!! The huge inflated screen was set up to one side of the courtyard and everyone set their chairs and blankets facing it, walking through the front gates to get in and surrounded by small buildings and crumpled walls of goodness. The ranch itself is about a half hour outside of town (south/southwest. for a northerner like me who had to wade through rush hour mopac traffic just to get down to the part where it then takes a half hour, I ended up spending a good 90 minutes to get there), and it's a very similar experience to making the first trip out to The Salt Lick. At first you're in the city, then it thins a little, then you're in outlying towns and before you know it, you're on a stretch of windy road weaving into hill country with nothing but trees and land all around you. There was a line of cars slowly turning into the ranch on a road that went straight into the country. At a certain point, Tim & Co. checked for receipts and made sure everyone was on the list before handing out wristbands and we turn off the paved road onto this even windier and hillier dirty road. You pass what looks like a rusted out general store circa 1906, you pass a few oil tanks you pass an offshoot that looks like it leads to the actual house where the Reimers' live, then you crest this hill and look straight down into THE ALAMO. off to the side is another little street that I just got a glimpse of because i was in the midst of a huge line of cars, then we park and walk under that entranceway through the gates to a little slice of film geek heaven, cowpatties and all.
Oh yeah, this is all happening right at dusk with an amazing sunset going bright red and sending shadows off clouds in the sky. I've never seen that before... actual dark lines of shadow in the sky.
Since I got there later than I had planned, I staked my claim at a decent spot and just camped there. There was a ginormous line for food and restroom so I decided not to initiate that cycle of digestion. I guess I had a box of chinese snacks coming my way for having a fantasticfest badge, but there was some snafu with not giving everyone (including me) the right ticket vouchers and I didn't really want it anyway so I just sat and looked around at the scenery, feeling the breeze (thank god. it was 103 today, but by the time the sun went down and with that breeze it was warm and cooled down to pleasant when the sun sank and the stars came out), and thought about the odds of this happening anywhere else.
I guess I'll have to watch the movie now to see where I sat.
So finally it's dark out and everyone's here and Tim comes out to thank Harry/AICN and Joss Whedon and Universal and to tell everyone not to take pictures or video of the movie and leak it online. Then he gets into the poetry. See, if you don't have a fantasticfest badge, one of the ways you could've gotten a ticket is by writing a love poem to one of the characters in the show. 100 people were given tickets based on the quality of their work (Tim: anyone who mentioned anyones loins, inner thighs, or buttocks were thrown away. We're a family establishment here at the Alamo Drafthouse, and there will be no loin-talk tonight). He was gonna read some out but then this dude with a sleeveless t-shirt and a fedora hat got up and grabbed the mic. He got us all clapping and launched into this song he wrote about Jayne's name being gay and him kicking puppies in the balls. We're talking like, 4 verses, choruses, and even a clapless solo ending. It's now clear to me that i am far from the number one superfan in this particular crowd.
Tim brings out Jewel and Summer and everyone stands and I think all the guys fall into instant love. But then they show this little bit of Tim's wife's uncle giving a lesson in how to swear in Chinese. This was really funny and he was absolutely hilarious... I'm surprised at how well he delivered the different phrases and his facial expressions as he said it, looking to people off-camera here and there, having a blast. It was a perfect primer for the movie.
The movie? It was actually.... really good! I was like... a casual fan of the show. I downloaded all the episodes and watched them one weekend. I really like the Old West aspects of the universe and for the most part the stories and characters are good but I tend to have a problem with Whedon going to the witty dialogue a bit too much. Some of the episodes were too funny for me... and also borderline too cheesy. I'm happy to say that the movie blends and mixes tones perfectly to my taste. One scene in particular goes from laugh to cry in like, 2 frames. Enough is told in the movie to give some closure to the show but it's also left open for more if the film does particularly well (Tim and the actors urged us to all see it 9 more times). There's still some wit to the dialogue and of course it's the future so they have to talk differently anyway but I never felt it becoming obtrusive to the emotions going on at all. It is true however that everything looks like 10 times better and Wash's piloting skills are significantly higher than they were during the show, but i'm choosing to think of it more as seeing the universe the way Joss envisioned it and it being hindered by a tv show budget rather than them making everything prettier just because it's a movie and that's how things are supposed to be.
so yeah, I liked the movie as much as I liked the best parts of the show, if not more... but I think it definitely helps to have seen the show. Although they retell a thing or two to make it understandable for people who didn't watch, you get way more investment with the characters when you've already spent 17 hours with them.
So after the movie, Henri came out and told us all to look up at the sky, and the spattering of stars that we don't get to see in town, and to look where we are and how perfect this is. Then he went into a bit about how people came up to him to talk to him and he was crying and he was trying to hide it so people wouldn't come up to him in the grocery store and say "dude, i saw you cry at that movie outside" but then he noticed how people who didn't see him can now come up too because he just told everyone. Anyway, he's a huge Whedon fan so he did a lot of the Q&A coordination while Tim hopped around with his camera playing photographer.
One dude offers to pay ten bucks to shake Jewel's hand. She agrees and he starts running up front, to be stopped at the last second by Tim "Ten bucks, buddy!" he's just kidding though. the guy shakes her hand then turns it into a shake/hug and guilts Summer into giving him one too. Another guy said his friends brought him out for his birthday tonight and could he get a picture with them to top it all off. We all clap when he does. A third guy yells "Can I have a hug!?" and we all yell "NO!!!"
Lots of Q&A. like a good 40 minutes worth... and they finally had to leave. And we all cleaned up and packed up and left as well, a huge line of cars coming back from the middle of nowhere to Austin. A guy passed up going the other way, I bet he had a good time watching us all. I hope he counted. I drove home on the now-empty MoPac, watching as lightning flashed to the north... our cloudless night of stars will probably be overcast and some much-needed rain tomorrow.
So this was a pretty special experience... I'd probably feel bad at whatever normal movie i go to next but... the next two movies I have planned are both also special! so yay! I think I'll finish this night off with a sandwich and a spaghetti western.
oh, one last thing. One of the cool things that The Alamo Drafthouse does is make up their own little "don't talk during the movie" spots to explain that if someone is talking you can write it down and Lars will take their ass out. Anyway, they have a Firefly spot where it's the scene where Book explains to Mal that if he touches this underage girl, he'll be sent to a "special hell" reserved for child molestors and people who talk during the movie. Anyway, the girl sitting next to me had made up her own little "Special Hell" sign and flashed it when the spot ran. people cheered. cool.