The Majestic Ventura Theater will temporarily go back to its movie roots when it hosts the Brew’n’View on Sept. 26. It will show Shine a Light, Martin Scorsese’s documentary about the most recent Rolling Stones tour, and The Wall, a cult classic companion to Pink Floyd’s magnum opus. It will also feature a full bar and have food available, all for $5.
The theater is not scrapping its formidable concert lineups. Instead, its administrators are trying to figure out creative ways to use the venue on nights when a band isn’t playing.
“We’re just trying to fill dates,” says Nokey Tipton, who is in charge of the movie nights. “We’re trying it first on a weekend, but we also want to try it on a dead night or try a matinee, or maybe before a show. It’ll become a pretty regular thing if it works out.” As of now, this is the only movie night scheduled. “There is nothing [else] scheduled as of yet. We want to see how it works.”
Tipton says he got the idea when the venue’s crew would unwind after shows by playing movies. “With our staff, a lot of times after shows or on weekday nights, we’d stay late and watch horror movies. It would be fun.”
To those aware of the venue’s history, it may seem a logical thing to do. Long before it was Ventura’s premier music venue, it was a movie theater. It opened in 1928 screening the movie Excess Baggage, featuring William Haines and
Josephine Dunn. It wasn’t until the early 1980s that they took out the seats and started booking bands there. Now, it is one of the top places to play in Southern California. In the last year or so, it has hosted shows by Morrissey, Tom
Petty’s side project Mudcrutch and a ton of other great artists of all musical stripes. Its lineup is always eclectic. One week in October features Latin rockers Café Tacuba, old school goth-punks the Misfits and metal freakazoids GWAR.
It’s natural, then, that the series would start off with a couple of rock-themed movies. Shine a Light is Scorsese’s take on a couple of 2006 Rolling Stones concerts at the Beacon Theater in New York, intercut with archival footage. It was well-received when it was first released earlier this year, with critics such as Roger Ebert commenting that “It may be the most intimate documentary ever made about a live rock and roll concert.” Stones fans will like the club surroundings and the slightly offbeat song choices, while non-diehards will go simply to see Scorsese’s latest rock documentary, following classics such as The Last Waltz, chronicling the Band’s final concert, and his look at early Bob
Dylan, No Direction Home. Many people may only associate Scorsese with his gritty dramas like Goodfellas and Taxi Driver, but he is one of the rare directors who has had consistent success capturing rock artists on film.
The Wall is an acid-and-Vicodin-soaked meditation on fame, isolation and fascism (among other things) dreamed up by Pink Floyd’s Roger Waters and directed by Alan Parker, with the band’s album of the same name serving as the musical backdrop. Highlights include a starring role for Boomtown Rat and Mr. Live Aid himself, Bob Geldof, and some brilliant animation by Gerald Scarpe. While the movie has both its champions and its detractors, it is undoubtedly a cult classic that holds together very well 26 years later.
While having rock-themed movies is a great place to start, in the future the Ventura Theater intends to branch out.
“We’re starting with music movies,” Tipton says, “but if we keep doing it, we will also show horror movies and classics like Back to the Future.”
Making this more interesting will be the availability of a full bar, something virtually unheard of where movies are shown. There will also be food available, and while there will be seating, fans will be able to bring their own chairs in order to take in the entertainment. All that for a $5 cover charge to see a cult classic along with a relatively new movie that never went into wide release. This leaves Tipton pretty optimistic about the movie nights’ prospect for success.
“It’s something new, and we hope to keep on doing it if people support it,” he says.
The inaugural Brew’n’View happens Sept. 26. Shine a Light screens at 8 p.m., followed by The Wall at 10:25 p.m. For more info, visit www.venturatheater.net.
This week’s Media Shmedia — in which Scott Patrick Wagner dissects the fall TV lineup — will be available exclusively online, at www.vcreporter.com.