Review: Out of Print
By John Corrado
★★★½ (out of 4)
I have never been to the New Beverly Cinema, a repertory theatre in Los Angeles that thrives on showing double bills of classic films on 35mm prints. But I would love to go there after seeing Out of Print, an enjoyable documentary that provides a sweet ode to the importance of the theatre and those who frequent it.
Directed by Julia Marchese, who was working the box office at the time, the film does a nice job of introducing us to the community of film lovers that the New Beverly Cinema has brought together since evolving from a porno theatre to a repertory house in 1978.
The bulk of the film is made up of interviews with notable names like Joe Dante, Edgar Wright, Kevin Smith, Patton Oswalt and Clu Gulagar, who even has a seat dedicated to him, who all share engaging and even touching stories about the experiences they have had at the theatre.
We are also introduced to the close knit group of employees and oddballs who keep the place running, including the eccentric projectionist who has taken to quacking, as well as regular patrons like the man who always comes wearing a three piece suit and pays for everything with two dollar bills. Although it can feel a bit narratively loose, Out of Print plays like a documentary hangout film that lets us listen in to the spirited conversations between a wide range of filmmakers and film buffs, showing how the New Beverly provides a community for them to come together and bond over their love of movies.
The film does a good job of capturing the romanticism of seeing a movie in a theatre and sharing it with an appreciative audience, an experience that is sadly becoming less common nowadays with people talking or using their phones during movies, and many audiences opting for the convenience of watching films at home on Netflix instead. The last act of Out of Print touches on the importance of making sure the 35mm format, and the many obscure films that have never been converted to digital, are saved for future generations. The New Beverly itself was even threatened at one point to make way for a generic franchise restaurant, before being saved by none other than Quentin Tarantino.
The film works as nostalgia, but also provides the pure joy of seeing directors and movie lovers geek out over the shared experiences they have had at this old school movie house. This is a briskly paced and entertaining love letter not just to the New Beverly Cinema, but also to film preservation and going to the movies as a whole. There are some films that I just flat-out enjoyed watching, and this entertaining and nostalgic documentary is one of them.
Out of Print is playing tonight and tomorrow night at the Carlton Cinema in Toronto. And yes, it’s being presented on 35mm, which only seems appropriate.