Old Joy

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.

4 Responses to “Old Joy”

  1. marc Says:

    hey paul,
    as always, i enjoyed this post and all of your others. you may remember you helped hook me up with some documentary shooters down in Knoxville for my Montessori documentary, thanks again for that! that project is nearing a sort of completion and i’m deep in preproduction on a microbudget (narrative) short. on the same day my DP suggested the panasonic hvx200, you linked to microfilmmaker magazine–with their prominent HVX review. Kismet.

    anyway, i’m also looking forward to old joy, but boy, 350 miles is really, really far. thanks for lots of great posts (my new film is using some super 8 also, so that post was helpful) and keep up the good work.

  2. David Lowery Says:

    I don’t know if I’d drive that far, even though Old Joy is one of the best films I’ve seen all year. Maybe if there was somene to share the trip with…then again, I did drive 350 miles to see a Matthew Barney exhibit, and that wasn’t so bad.

  3. Jeff Kreines Says:

    So do what we did here in Montgomery, Alabama — start your own non-profit arthouse. The Capri was founded in 1982 by a bunch of Montgomery residents who wanted a place to see films they couldn’t see locally. Over the years the Capri has upgraded its projection so it’s got a great picture and Dolby digital audio, etc. They are trying to buy their building, and expand.

    Other towns can do the same thing… it’s not impossible.

    Looking forward to Kelly’s film next month, a mere 15 minutes away!

    Jeff “in rural Coosada, AL” Kreines

  4. Paul Says:

    Jeff –

    That *is* what should be done. Of course, we actually have such a theatre in Roanoke (The Grandin), as well as one in Blacksburg (The Lyric). The question is whether either will show it. I’ll definitely be calling them to request it.