One of the sad ironies of independent cinema is that when a distributor acquires and releases a regionally produced independent film, especially one that points its camera away from the city, it’s rarely screened in those off-the-beaten-path places like those it depicts. I care about this because I live in one of those places (Roanoke, VA).
Case in point: Kelly Reicherdt’s Old Joy, which is being released today in New York. I have just checked playdates on the official website. It’s no doubt interesting that the film will play Nashville, Lexington, and Montgomery AL and not, say, Philadelphia. (At least, not as of yet.) But it’s maddening that Lexington’s as close as it may get for me. That’s 350 miles away.
Which raises the question: How far would I drive to see a movie these days?
I’ve done two hours numerous times. (Au Hasard Balthazar, Umbrellas of Cherbourg, L’Argent, Minnie and Moskowitz, and Taste of Cherry come to mind — all worth it, by the way.) And I’ve done 180 miles for I am Cuba and What Time is it There?.
But most of those occasions were years ago, before I had a dvd player, a video projector, and surround sound, and also before many of those works were availble on video at all.
Would I do it today? If it was for a rarity that I’ve never seen — say, Bresson’s Four Nights of a Dreamer or a restored print of something like Leo McCarey’s Love Affair, I’d drive half a day, probably. Actually, I probably still would drive that far for the Bresson films I have seen — there’s simply no substitute for seeing his films as big as possible and on film. Same goes for works by Tarkovsky, Ozu, Dreyer and the other so-called “slow” filmmakers.
But I’d rather not have to drive 350 miles to see Old Joy. Will I? We’ll see. I might. After all, it is a road movie.
(Actually, that would be one helluva high-concept distribution strategy — “Let’s make everyone drive miles to see this road movie!” Alas, I don’t think that’s what’s happening here.)
In any event, IFC has an interview with Reicherdt here. I’ve read too much about the movie already; I’ll wait on the interview until I can see it.