While I'm not sure it can go on the record as my all-time, favorite thing in the entire world, I have to say that watching movies outdoors definitely makes the cut for one of my top ten favorite things in life. I can even admit that I almost rented a place in Venice strictly for the potential for movie-watching on the incredible rooftop deck (however, once the landlord told us it would likely collapse if more than 10 people were on it, we had to pass). Random, I know, but there is something about laying out a picnic with friends and watching the sunset before a good vintage flick, and one of the saddest things about moving from Venice was giving up Cinespia, the beloved weekly screening of both contemporary and classic films in the historic Hollywood Forever Cemetery, home of somewhat ancient mausoleums, intricately adorned gravestones, and a handful of famous dead people (and some non-famous dead people for diversity). Once you look past the morally-ambiguous idea of feasting and imbibing over corpses, it can be a jolly good time, and if they didn't want their grave to be urinated on at some point, then they shouldn't have been buried in Hollywood. (Don't worry, they have port-a-pottys, but I'm quite sure there have been drunk and impatient patrons over the years.)
It pays to know someone who works at a winery in general, and last weekend was no exception, as we got a personal invite from Luke Mathews, connoisseur of fine wines and Hipster Enologist, to watch Sixteen Candles at Anne Amie Vineyards in Carlton, OR, about an hours drive outside of Portland. OK, it was open to the public, but it makes me feel special that we knew someone on the inside. And I must admit, the first time I visited the winery, I was a little crabby about the hour drive, but once I saw the view and the grounds, it was worth every minute. Additionally, with my terribly unrefined palate and corresponding personal wine rating of only two attributes: "good" or "bad", it falls very strongly in the "good" category, though those with more distinguished tastes have high praises for the wine selection as well. My favorite is the Amrita, and not just because it is very reasonably priced and I can afford it, but also because, bubbles.
Overall, it was a gorgeous night and, dare I say it, possibly better than Cinespia? The view is insane, and during some point in the movie we were treated to a fireworks display from a neighboring farm. I was even pleasantly surprised by the movie, which I had never seen before. A perfect display of the stupidity of youth, with just a sprinkle of racism and offensiveness to keep everyone nervous about whether or not they should actually be enjoying it, and there is nothing I like better than internally judging people for laughing at things that aren't funny. Seriously, there was a lot of racism, and I doubt I will be putting another John Hughes film on my Netflix queue, but it was definitely interesting to see just how different the 80's were.
Portlandians - the next showing is on August 16. You should be there. For those of you not in Portland, here are some other places with outdoor movies, but this is a small list because I got sick of googling open air cinema, you can easily search online for options in your specific location:
-Washington DC: http://www.dcoutdoorfilms.com/locations.html
-A place after my own heart: a Farm Animal sanctuary that shows open air movies near Boston: http://www.winslowfarm.com/movies.html
-New Orleans - after a successful kickstarter campaign and donation from the Louisiana Cultural Economy Foundation, the New Orleans Film Society invested in a travelling cinema called "Movies to Geaux": http://www.neworleansfilmsociety.org/pages/detail/106/Movies-to-Geaux
List of drive-in theaters all over the country, including ones that are still operating: http://www.driveinmovie.com
Some tips for newbies to the outdoor movie racket:
- Bring lighting that you don't have to hold. Even a group of battery candles or a battery lantern is much easier than a tipsy cleanup, trying to pick up trash and blankets with one hand while using your phone for light.
-Pick the nights with the not super popular movies. If it is tricky to find a spot normally, going when they play Jaws or Roman Holiday is just asking to be stuck by the port-a-potty line. Hell, you might find a random movie you like, or like me, could have your dreams haunted for the next month by images of a vampire Susan Sarandon from The Hunger. Either way, win win.
-Don't be the dick that brings raised seats. Or if you must have them, seat yourself in the back.
-Two words: bottle opener. Don't forget it.
-Bring more blankets than you think you will need. One to sit on, and 1-2 per person for warmth/ass comfort.
-Bring enough to share, someone will have not gotten the "it is awesome to eat and drink outside" memo and they will be sad.
Scroll down for some more images of the exquisite Anne Amie Vineyards, and feel free to write in if you have any additions to the list of outdoor movie locations...