I finally made it to the New Parkway. I went Thursday night to see Django Unchained. Actually, the movie was secondary. I really wanted to see the theater.
The New Parkway is better located than the original. On 24th St. between Broadway and Telegraph, it’s in the heart of downtown Oakland and a short walk from the 19th St. BART station.
From the outside, it doesn’t even look like a theater, but like warehouse covered with graffiti. You have to read some of that graffiti to realize that you’ve reached your destination.
Ticket price: $6.00. What a bargain!
The spacious lobby looks like a cutting-edge, very hip café. Tables, chairs, and couches encourage people to hang out.
I came with a full stomach, so I didn’t sample the food beyond the popcorn–which was delicious. It was also served in reusable, washable bowls. That wasn’t the theater’s only waste-cutting measure–the condiment table had cloth napkins.
Other food offerings included meat and vegi burgers, quesadillas, pizza, and something that looked like a complete and balanced meal with pasta. I suspect that was the "Mystery Meal" that they sell for $7.
The auditorium (one of two) was large, but arranged so it was very wide rather than very deep. For the patrons’ comfort, it was fitted out with a motley collection of used living room furniture. There were even a couple of hair dryers. With my preference for sitting front and center, I picked what turned out to be a horribly uncomfortable couch. But I grabbed a large pillow that was resting elsewhere and made myself exceptionally comfortable.
The screen wasn’t exceptionally large–especially considering the size of the room. It was fixed width, and sufficiently big enough for standard widescreen 1.85×1 movies. For for scope, 2.35×1 pictures like Django Unchained, it was a bit small. There’s no masking, making you aware of the letterboxing. The speakers were visible, beside and above the screen rather than behind it.
One interesting sign of the times: There’s no projection booth. The digital projector was in a in box hanging from the ceiling. With digital, you don’t often need physical access to the projector. The only film projector was an ancient one on display in the lobby.
The ambiance was very friendly–a place to hang out as well as to see a movie. I liked it a lot.
But what about Django Unchained?
Typical Tarantino–clever, entertaining, way over the top in its gruesome and entirely unrealistic violence, and utterly hollow on the inside. Like Inglorious Basterds, it uses a great crime against humanity as an excuse for a splatter-filled revenge flick that’s also a tribute to a particular kind of action movie. In this case, the crime is slavery and genre the spaghetti western. The story is idiotic, with the heroes often picking a ridiculously difficult route to their goal, and showing no qualms whatsoever over killing other human beings. But I have to admit that I thoroughly enjoyed it.
But I enjoyed the theater a lot more.
Filed under: Theaters