“All art-house cinemas should be capable of showing Transformers: The Movie (animated) properly. It’s what Orson Welles would have wanted.” – Stephen Totilo

by Matthew Hawkins

Remember that big announcement I was hoping to make a few days back? It’s finally happening tomorrow! Plus things in general are kicking into high gear, hence why this weekend was my last chance to mostly kick back and relax. So how was it spent?

Optimus Prime With His Head Cut Off

Living in New York City has its perks. Like how it’s every cinephile’s paradise; you won’t find a greater selection of movies playing, and catering to such a diverse audience, anywhere on this planet. Period. From mainstream hits, to foreign/indie/underground fare, plus beloved classics from yesterday. The options at any given moment is dizzying.

It’s been especially crazy as of late; both the IFC Center and Lincoln Center’s weekend midnight showings have been unbelievable. In the past six months alone I’ve enjoyed The Blue Brothers, Big Trouble In Little China, and Return To Oz, to name just a few. But there’s been one theater I’ve been recommended regularly by pals, and had yet to experience: the Nighthawk.

This past Friday night was a slightly after midnight screening of the original Transformers The Movie, a 35mm print no less. Under normal circumstances, reliving the biggest cinematic cornerstone of my childhood (even more than Star Wars) in its proper format would have been a no-brainer. But in this case, I had reservations. Why? Because the Nighthawk is in the heart of Williamsburg (lulz). And the verdict?

I like the idea behind the place: a theater that not only shows offbeat movies, but has table service. And complaining about the antics of grade A, trustafarian douchebags, especially at a midnight screening, admittedly sounds silly. Actually, the drunk chick who kept yelling during previews and trying to be all MST3K, but whose pop culture references were no older than 2008, was actually the least offensive.

Because she mostly shut up when the movie started. But not the three guys down the row who had to recite every. single. line. Was tolerable the first 15 minutes, but after about 50? Jesus Christ. Thankfully the couple between us (who I’ve seen at NYAFF screenings; they appear to be cool people) told them to shut the f*ck eventually.

Then you had the numerous dipsh*ts who kept taking pictures of the movie screen. I like Instagram too, but give me a break. The fact that someone kept on using his/her flash gave me the most douche-chills. But my biggest beef was actually with the theater. Specifically, their inability to properly project the film itself. Apparently they lack the means to show anything that’s 4:3. Extremely odd for a small/art house theater.

I asked what the deal was and got a pretty semi-nonsensical explanation, but didn’t feel like getting into a whole conversation in the middle of the movie. All I know is, as a kid, I sure as hell didn’t remember the tops of everyone’s heads being lopped off. On the plus side, their staff is friendly, the drinks very strong, and I GOT TO THE ANIMATED TRANSFORMERS MOVIE ON THE BIG SCREEN IN 2012, so the night wasn’t a total wash.

UPDATE: A few friends have been confused by me citing Transformers‘s aspect ratio as being 4:3, which was the standard canvas view for television content, before everything went HD and letterboxed, similar to film’s aspect ratio. Mostly because of the DVD/Blu-ray release from a few years ago, which finally gave us all a widescreen version. The thing is, information is actually withheld and not added in that instance.

I naturally assumed that the original theater prints were also 4:3. But as Steve point out, they were actually 16:9 back then. As noted here (which explains everything far clearer than just did). And that makes total sense: why would theater operators go through the trouble of making accommodating a 4:3 field of vision, for some throw away kids movie?

That being said, the Nighthawk still messed up: a significant portion of the image was being projected off the screen, at the very top (again, everyones heads’ were cut off). It was most telling during the opening credits; instead of the text being dead in the middle of the image (which is the case for both the 4:3 and 16:9 versions), it was in the top 15% of the screen that night.

Furthermore, you also got the sense that the image was zoomed in. Especially during close ups; everything was slightly blurry. You could see lots of detail… at times, too much. Once more, the film was just projected improperly.

An Evening With The “Ancient One” and “Venus De Mutor”

Thankfully the following night completely devoid of such nonsense. Had dinner with Joe and June, whom I haven’t seen in ages, in their neck of the woods. Then from Harlem, it was off to Carol Gardens, the MF Gallery to exact. For the Midnight Monster Meltdown opening, featuring the art of Joanna Mulder and Frank Russo. Because I ranted and raved for far too long about Friday night, here’s Saturday night in mostly pictures?

Though I must say that last night was perhaps the muggiest and grossest evening this entire summer. Which meant plenty of trips to the bodega next door; not just for water, but their assortment of choice DVDs?

Happy Boy’s migraine?

I was dying to know who this guy was, but I also didn’t want to ask?

Donnie Dark O’s

So the reason why Joe and June have been incognito is because they’ve been busy running the Wax Eye empire. And I was lucky enough to be given a nice little care package, the latest fruits of their labor: Cereal Killers Series 2!

As with Series 1, it combines two things that we all know and love? breakfast cereal and horror movie icons. And Series 2 continues the traditional, and in many ways improves upon it!

Once again, you have three fun size boxes, each with 20 cards, with 60 cards total, along with gumballs that are fashioned after three eyeballs?

Here are just a few of my favorites?

? When Joe first showed me the concept sketches for both Pet Semaberry Crunch and Cape Fearios, I pretty much couldn’t stop laughing for about ten minutes!

The best part about Series 2 is how, in addition to mini cereal 3 pack, they’re being sold in traditional packs as well! Be sure to keep your eye out of them (they can be found at Toys R Us, among other places). Or simply order them directly from Joe and June!

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