News Column

Cocteau Cinema reopens Aug. 9

July 31, 2013


July 31--On Aug. 9, after seven dark years, the magic lantern will glow again at the Jean Cocteau Cinema.

And, as a special treat for filmgoers, the first week will offer free admission.

"It's an incentive for people to come and see (the theater). We've restored and punched it up a little bit," said general manager Jon Bowman.

The first film, showing at 6:30 p.m. that Friday, will be owner George R.R. Martin's favorite film, "Forbidden Planet."

"He thinks it's the greatest science fiction film of all time," Bowman said in a phone interview Tuesday. Made in 1956, it's based on Shakespeare's "The Tempest." And, perhaps less commonly known, the character played by Leslie Nielsen of "Airplane" and "Naked Gun" fame was the prototype for the character that became Capt. Kirk in "Star Trek," Bowman said.

"And it has the first big, great robot," he added.

The second film, showing at 8:45 p.m., will be "Orpheus," the 1950 film written and directed by Jean Cocteau, the cinema's namesake. That film, based on a Greek myth, shows a futuristic cafe society that "looks a little bit like Paris," Bowman said.

And the day will be capped off with an 11 p.m. showing of "Dark Star," a 1974 "space travel comedy" by John Carpenter, co-written with Dan O'Bannon, who went on to be a co-writer on "Alien." Bowman described the film as featuring characters akin to "stoned surfer astronauts."

Bowman said 11 p.m. showtimes will be offered on Fridays and Saturdays, so people no longer can say that Santa Fe nightlife ends at ... well, whatever early time most people say it ends.

Refreshments available in the lobby will range from snacks to entrees, plus "great popcorn" with real butter and a variety of toppings, such as cheese and chile powder, he said. Pizza by the slice will be available from El Centro, and the Chocolate Maven will provide fresh pastries, along with burritos and empanadas. The usual assortment of beverages will be offered, ranging from coffee and milk to bottled water and sodas, he said.

While there is some talk about making the food available for morning coffee or lunch, that won't happen right away, according to Bowman, saying that the food sales will start when the theater opens for movie showings around 2 p.m.

"We'll be doing a mix of titles," he said, adding that some will oriented toward different genres, such as science fiction, fantasy, horror and martial arts -- "things not being played at the art houses, but not necessarily commercial."

Out of every four weeks, perhaps one week would be devoted to vintage films, he added. "We'll be trying to distinguish ourselves a bit from the CCA and The Screen," Bowman said of the other art houses in Santa Fe.

The theater, which seats 120 people, has gotten a bit of a makeover, with a new screen (about a foot larger than the old one), a digital projector and Dolby digital surround sound, he said. Some new tiles and glass bricks in the cafeteria area enhance the art deco feel, while colored lights by the concessions are intended to give a sci-fi effect, he said.

Overall, the theater will retain the nostalgia of the old, while offering "a higher quality viewer experience," Bowman said.

Its building went up around 1910-12 at 418 Montezuma, and the theater has been closed since 2006. It was purchased earlier this year by Santa Fe resident and author Martin, the author whose series "The Song of Ice and Fire" inspired HBO's "Game of Thrones" show.

Admission prices ranging from $5-$10 will go into effect on Aug. 16, with coming attractions listed on the theater's website,

They include "Europa Report" (2013), a sci-fi thriller about a crew of astronauts searching for life on one of Jupiter's moons; "Shouting Secrets" (2011), a film about a Native American writer who returns to his family after many years away; and "Rapture-Palooza" (2013), about teens on a mission to defeat the Antichrist.

"An Oversimplification of Her Beauty" (2012), written and directed by Terence Nance, will follow.


(c)2013 the Albuquerque Journal (Albuquerque, N.M.)

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