What The Heck's A Cinemart? By Mike White. Hell if I know. Sounds to me kind of like a cinema crossed with a mini-mart. Oooh, a political statement about the poor state of American theatrical presentations and their tendency to be housed in dodecahedronplexes? Kind of...
Hell if I know. Sounds to me kind of like a cinema crossed with a mini-mart. Oooh, a political statement about the poor state of American theatrical presentations and their tendency to be housed in dodecahedronplexes? Kind of. Also, I couldn’t call the magazine "Cashiers du Cineplex" since the word "cineplex" is a licensed trademark of the National Amusements company. Bet 'cha didn’t know that one, did you?
I found out that juicy little tidbit when I was in training at the Showcase theater in Ann Arbor. I had been working at Blockbuster and was getting really sick of the customers and lack of hours so I went back to the profession I knew best; a theater worker. I had spent three years working at the Taylor Star theater and felt I had the job down to a science.
I went around to all the theaters in Ann Arbor putting in my application. I found out some unpleasant truths in my quest for a better job: the Michigan theater, since it’s kind of a charity operation, doesn’t pay dick. I also learned that the United Artist’s at Briarwood Mall has some sort of weird schedule where one has to work full time for two weeks and then get two days off and then work three shifts of part time or something equally ridiculous. It was almost like they didn’t want people to work thereespecially people going to school or with social lives. And I found out that it’s too far to walk to the Goodrich Ann Arbor 1&2 and that parking is nonexistent.
But the saddest truths of all I learned while actually working at Showcase Cinema Ann Arbor.
I felt like an undercover agent going in there, comparing and contrasting everything they did at their theater with what I did at mine, trying to see if they did anything better or more efficient. Nope.
It really pisses me off when I work somewhere and someone comes in and starts going off about how much better things were done at their other job. So why'd you leave, buddy? If it was all wine and roses where you came from, why don’t you just go back there and leave us poor slobs alone? So, I kept my trap shut when I worked therebut, boy, my housemates and girlfriend got an ear full.
I don’t want to sound like I only look back at my Star Theater days through rose-colored glasses. Not by any means. It was fun sometimes and at others it was hell. I still have some big-time grudges against my former manager and won’t go into how I'd like to resolve them in case anyone actually does throw a blanket party for him. The Star Theater might not have been a full-time party but, at least it was clean.
That’s right. Any members of the health department out there? If you want to rack up some big time violations or make a mint in pay-offs, head on over to the Showcase Ann Arbor.
First off, my first night there I was put in the concession stand in my dumb-ass uniform (complete with visor and apron) and when the time came to clean the pop corn warmers I almost shrieked in terror at how dirty the bottoms were. When I popped open the bottom to clean out the tray underneath, my co-workers stood around in amazement: "I never knew that came out," one of them said. How could I have guessed? What was my first clue? Was it the layer upon layer of grit and grease?
That first night I was also scolded for tainting the popcorn I took out of the warmer with my dirty paper towels. You see, I’m used to throwing out that crumbly mess left in a warmer after a busy night. My mistake. At Showcase they like to reuse that refuse. So, in essence, you could be eating a piece of popcorn today that was popped the first day the theater opened. Maybe a few more squirts of butter-flavoring would help you swallow that bit of info.
The cleanliness thing really got under my skin, especially those day shifts where we were waging a constant battle with flies. I remember seeing a few flies at the Star and quickly disposing of them in a sanitary manner. But, it was like the wrap party for The Amityville Horror was taking place in the Showcase lobby every day. I don’t know where they were coming from and, frankly, I'd rather remain ignorant.
After a week I put in my notice at Showcase. I couldn’t handle the dirt, the clientele, my co-workers, the management, and my low, low pay. I actually went to an early morning meeting the first Saturday I worked where the topic was upselling.
For those lucky bastards out there who have never had to work retail, let me fill you in on the insidious concept of "upselling." Would you like a large, it’s only a quarter more? That’s it in a nutshell. Any candy or nachos with that?
Upselling is all fine and good in a job where you can make commission. I made it at the Star so I didn’t really mind selling the better-priced "Superbucket Special" when I got that big ole check at the end of the week. Of course the owners weren’t losing money by me making money so everyone was happy. At Showcase, on the other hand, the more I sold the same I got. If I made the National Amusements company a thousand dollars a night I still got dick. I still got my quarter more than minimum. That really is incentive, now isn’t it.
Incentive for what? To steal.
This is the part of the article where morality goes out the window, so, please, if you’ve never been guilty of ripping off your cheap-ass boss, please turn the page.
Showcase was run by a bunch of tight wads. That embarrassing uniform I mentioned earlier had no pockets of any kind. I couldn’t even carry my wallet down to the concession stand (where I found I was stuck for the rest of my lifeno cross training at this job and, since I had half a brain, I got to handle the toughest tasklucky me).
Also, I had to keep a personal inventory of everything I sold. At the beginning of the shift I had to count out all my popcorn bags, cups, and candy (each bag). This process took at least fifteen minutes after I counted it and my supervisor double checked it. I was always being double checked. I felt like a criminal. So, I became one.
After a few days I found out which items I wasn’t responsible for. I couldn’t sell a pop off the register since I would be missing a cup at the end of my shift. But, hot dogs, nachos, and ice creamthat was another story altogether.
This is where my math skills paid off. I would ring up the item but never total it. Then I would take my cut from the booty, stick it in my sock, take if off the register, and then total it out.
Unfortunately, not too many people bought these items compared to pop and popcorn but, oh, it felt so good to skim that extra money off the top. An extra twenty dollars a night isn’t much compared to the amount of money I made for the theater but it helps bring that minimum wage plus a quarter up a notchand, hey, it was tax free!
Yeah, go ahead, call me a monster for being so flagrant in my pilfering of petty cash, but make sure it’s that you morally object to it, and not that you’re jealous for not having done the same in any number of dead-end jobs you might have worked. I look back with great happiness that I managed to get away with something because that company didn’t give a shit about its workers. It was something right out of Marx & Engels.
Sure, there are some perks to working at a movie theaterall the free movies you could watchwell, kind of. You can’t see anything less than three weeks old for free on a Friday or Saturday night (maybe you actually got one of those off for a change) and you had to call and get permission before you came to watch anything. Then when you did finally sign the last of the twenty-seven forms, took a urine test and coughed twice for Mr. Brown, the manager, you got to watch a movie presented in only the way Showcase can show it. A scratched, out of focus print with bad sound. Ahhh... all that hard work and upselling was worth it just for these two hours of bliss...
I never actually got to see anything while I worked my two weeks at Showcase. I, luckily, kept my job at Blockbuster and was working both every day. You had better believe I enjoyed Blockbuster a whole hell of a lot more after my ordeal was over.
The only time I’ve ever gotten to see anything for free at a Showcase cinema was when my land lord invited me to see From Dusk Till Dawn. I had read the script a few months before and was really psyched.
I liked George Clooney a lot and even thought (hold on to your seats, regular CdC readers) Tarantino did an okay job of acting. Yes, after all those roles he actually managed to be a bit subdued in a movie. He even got a mouth-full of back-hand when he started to go off. That’s more like it. I still say our boy Tarantino needs some voice lessons a la Kathy Ireland to get him into a masculine range, but, Tarantino didn’t play his usual moronic self and the change suited him well.
I was pretty pleased with the way things were going until I got to the first vampire attack. In the original script this came at page forty-five. That was our first sight of fangs. But, in the rewritten, Rodriguez version, it felt like a lot later. Maybe fifty or fifty-five minutes into the film. This is too long, for me. Not that I was a blood-thirsty maniac, just waiting for the gore to flow. No, I was just getting kind of antsy. I think the Desperate Hours half of the movie over-stayed its welcome.
It was also at this part where I realized the limitations of Showcase Cinemas. Tarantino and Rodriguez, these two "Rock ‘n’ Roll Directors," you'd think they'd have the sense to use a little music behind an exciting action scene like this, right? I didn’t hear any!
Come to find out a few days later, it was there. I had heard only dialogue and a few sound effects like I was getting one or two channels out of a six-channel surround system. The presentation really makes a world of difference in assessing this film. That’s really stating the obvious, now, isn’t it? Not really. With a lot of movies I see they could be twelfth generation VHS copies, full-frame with mono sound but the quality of the intended direction and story come shining through all the muck. While From Dusk Til Dawn didn’t rely on the sound track for all its scrumptious goodness, it certainly needed a kick in the pants.
While Robert Rodriguez may write a very inspirational book, his directing needs a bit more work. He seems to base his style on Sam Raimi but something about him lacks the fluidity and style that Detroit’s Favorite Son has mastered. Perhaps it’s in the editing. Maybe Rodriguez should have done the rough cut but then turned it over to someone else for the fine tuning or maybe he just needed another go at it to tighten everything up. It almost seemed to drag. In the script it seemed that there was something going on every second and that action in the second half was sacrificed for scenes in the first.
The woman hostage in the first half didn’t exist in the original draft of the script but a scene resembling a mix of Stephen King’s short story "Graveyard Shift" (I don’t know how it compared to the movieI missed that one, sorry) and Aliens was in the second. Yadda-yadda-yadda... No, I’m not Mr. I Thought The Original Script Was Much Better. I liked some things about it better and I liked some things they did in the actual movie better. If you had kept all the good things the movie would be phenomenal and if you had kept all the less than grand items, it would have been pure shit. So, I’m thankful for the final lukewarm results but wish it was all it could have been.
What I really regret is that the revised draft of the script is the version now in publication. Maybe it’s some kind of copyright thing that’s keeping the old draft out of circulation but it would make more sense to me to publish what could have been to contrast what came into being. What’s the point of owning a script that’s just about word for word of the actual movie?
From Dusk To Dawn
Ten bat things are in hot pursuit of Seth, Kate and Scott who are running for their lives. They get to the door of the back room, whip it open, dive in and SLAM it behind them. An ugly, fleshy bat thing manages to get its head caught in the door as it closes. Kate and Scott push on the door as hard as they can. The bat thing’s head, which is inside, screams, howls and snaps in fury. The bat thing’s head transforms into a large half-rodent / half- devil.
(in a satanic voice)
I’m gonna suck your fuckin' blood!
Seth turns toward the bat/vamp in the door. He sticks his .45 in its big mouth.
You wanna suck something, suck on this!
He FIRES four shots that blow the bat vamp’s head all over the wall.
We have to go back for daddy!
She spins and grabs the doorknob, ready to fling the door open and help her father. Scott grabs her and pushes her up against the door.
He’s right, Kate. Daddy’s dead! He was too far away. If flinging open the door and filling this room with those bath things would save him, I'd fling it. The only thing it'll do is turn us into one of them.
He needs our help!
You’re not going out there! You can’t help him! I can’t be alone again! I’ve got no one left to lose but you. We’re sticking together.
They hear Jacob’s voice in the barroom, booming out
The path of the righteous man and defender is beset on all sides by the inequities of the selfish and the tyranny of evil men.
Jacob holding a cross made out of two sticks and reciting appropriate verse from the bible is keeping the vampires at bay. But as Seth predicted, it is the shining power of his restored faith that is his mightiest weapon. Jacob is making his way through the vampires, toward the back door. A lot of the bats have transformed into bat/devil/human creatures. The creatures stand at the edge of Jacob’s force field of holiness. Many bat things fly around the bar like whirling dervishes. A cluster of at things hover above and in front of Jacob. They all growl and hiss at the man of god. For every one step forward Jacob takes, the vampires take one step back. Jacob recites the verse from the bible in a threatening, mean, motherfucking servant of god tone. As he speaks with authority and strength, he sees Frost lying on the ground, bat things on him like ants on a candy bar. But Jacob is too much in control to let even this repugnant sight trip him up.
Blessed is he who in the name of charity and good will shepherds the weak through the valley of darkness. For he is truly his brother’s keeper, and the father of lost children. And I will execute great vengeance upon them with furious anger, who poison and destroy my brothers. And they shall know I am the lord when I raise my vengeance upon them.
Jacob has backed himself up by the door.
Open the door.
The door flies open. Jacob jumps inside. The door SLAMS shut.
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