When my time comes and I arrive at the Pearly Gates, I’ll be greeted by St. Peter. After making sure everything checks out and I’m not in the wrong place, he’ll review my life with me, like a potential employer might examine my work history. Everything will look good, hopefully, except for one glaring discrepancy. Like that same potential employer trying to make sense of a gap in a resume, he’ll question me.
“You know, we judge you not only on the life you’ve lived, but also on the the films you’ve seen,” he’ll say. “According to my notes here, you had a significant drop in quality film viewing in 2015. It was down by almost 50%. Can you explain this?”
“I can, Saint Pete,” I’ll respond. “The Belcourt was closed the whole first half of the year. Ask Clarence, he can vouch for me.”
Saint Peter will summon Clarence, who’ll flutter over in his relatively-new wings. They’ll have a short confab. Saint Peter will turn back to me.
“Well, Clarence says he knows the place well. Goes there every December. He can’t imagine the afterlife without it. I think we’re good. Come on in.”
I can’t imagine having to explain a 100% drop, or a multi-year dip. Thankfully, I won’t have to. Heaven rejoice, The Belcourt reopens on July 22.
The storied theater in Hillsboro Village closed in December of 2015—Clarence was the last one in the building—to embark on a $5 million renovation. Plans included preserving the 1925 Hall, restoring the original proscenium arch, providing contemporary accessibility features, integrating new restroom facilities and updating aging HVAC systems, among many other improvements. In the process, they’d expand lobby space, add classroom space for their growing education services and add a small public screening room to accommodate increased audiences. On July 22, those audiences will finally get to experience all the improvements, along with some excellent first-run features and repertory films.
The opening lineup includes Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie, the highly anticipated big-screen return of the popular BBC show featuring Edina and Patsy “living the high life they are accustomed to—and shopping, drinking and clubbing their way around London’s trendiest hot-spots.” Also opening will be The Music of Strangers, Oscar-winning filmmaker Morgan Neville’s profile of celebrated cellist Yo-Yo Ma’s Silk Road Ensemble, which brings together master musicians from around the world to teach, collaborate and perform. Neville is best known for 20 Feet from Stardom and Best of Enemies. In Weiner-Dog, Todd Solondz takes us back in to the dark comedic confines of The Dollhouse to follow “the wayward adventures of a dachshund who passes from oddball owner to oddball owner—including the world’s worst mom, a beleaguered screenwriter, and the grownup incarnation of (protagonist in Solondz’s breakthrough film Welcome to the Dollhouse) Dawn Wiener—whose radically dysfunctional lives are all impacted by the pooch.”
The midnight movie on opening weekend will be Green Room, a welcome second chance for the well-reviewed but largely missed thriller starring the late Anton Yelchin “as the singer of a touring punk band who must square off against a skinhead club owner, played by Patrick Stewart, after witnessing a murder at his club.”
Repertory films include Akira Kurosawa’s masterpiece, Ran, and two films by martial arts picture master, Kung Hu, Dragon Inn and A Touch of Zen, both presented in a New 4k Restoration.
The full lineup into the fall is available now, including the films screening as part of a series dedicated to the work of Brian DePalma, so head over to Belcourt.org now to see what you won’t be missing. As of this post, according to BelcourtCampaign.org, $4,223,000 has been raised toward the campaign’s $5 million goal. Learn more there about the campaign and how you can help the theatre get to the finish line.
For a tour of the theatre’s renovation in-progress, be sure to visit our post from early in June, “The Belcourt’s Body Takes Shape.”
Remember, the films you’ve seen matter. See you at The Belcourt!