Movie News & Reviews

Catch the really big picture at the Coral Gables Art Cinema’s 70mm film festival

Lobby card from the original 1968 release of ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’
Lobby card from the original 1968 release of ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’

The problem with watching movies such as “2001: A Space Odyssey” or “Lawrence of Arabia” on your home theater system is that no matter how big your screen is, it’s not big enough.

“You miss a great deal of information and detail when you watch these movies at home,” says Steven Krams, president and founder of the Coral Gables Art Cinema. “Instead of sitting at home looking at a TV screen, watching them on 70mm is like looking out over the edge of a cliff of the Grand Canyon. The image fills your field of vision, and it’s of such high quality that you will see things you’ve never seen before.”

“See It in 70mm,” a four-film festival taking place at the Gables Cinema Oct. 7-13, celebrates the unveiling of the theater’s newly installed dual-projector system, which makes the 141-seat cinema the only venue in Florida capable of playing the extra-large film negative and accompanying six-channel discreet soundtracks. The $100,000 upgrade to the theater was a donation by Krams’ Magna-Tech Electronic Co. in North Miami, which designs planetariums and refurbishes projectors for venues around the world.

Resolution and clarity are two of the things that make 70mm film a big deal. The negative’s wider gauge provides double or triple the resolution of ordinary film. 70mm is also projected at a speed of 120 feet per minute — 35mm runs at 90 feet per minute— resulting in a sharper, brighter, more luminous image.

This week’s slate of screenings will be the first of periodic 70mm film presentations at the theater. We ran down the titles with Gables Cinema director of programming Nat Chediak, who only considered movies originally shot in the ultra-wide format, and asked him why he chose these four titles:

▪ “2001: A Space Odyssey” (1968) (dir. Stanley Kubrick): “ ‘2001’ is in a class by itself. You cannot compare it to any other movie, even Kubrick’s own work. It’s a film that most everyone has seen in many formats, from home video to 35mm. But until you’re able to see it in 70mm, you haven’t seen it the way Kubrick wanted it to be shown.” (Plays at 8:30 p.m. Oct. 7-9.)

▪ “Lawrence of Arabia” (1962) (dir. David Lean): “You can’t do 70mm without David Lean, and if you do David Lean, you do the desert. No one ever photographed landscapes like David Lean did. The cut of Peter O’Toole blowing out a match to the sun rising over the desert is one of the most powerful transitions in all of cinema.” (Plays at 4 p.m. Oct. 8-9.)

▪ “Hamlet” (1996) (dir. Kenneth Branagh): “It’s the first movie to present the uncut version of the entire play. It’s a film that very few people saw when it came out because it was released by a major studio, but it was made for a specialized audience. The movie played in malls when it first came out. People now have a chance to revisit it in the intimate setting it deserves.” (Plays at 6:30 p.m. Oct. 10-11.)

▪ “Baraka” (1992) (dir. Ron Fricke): “This is a film that is analogous to the 70mm format. It may be the least-known of the four, but watching it feels like what people used to describe as a hallucinogenic trip. It explores the human landscape in a non-fiction format. In other words, it’s ‘2001’ but as a documentary, with its feet on the earth.” (Plays at 9 p.m. Oct. 12-13).

The Coral Gables Art Cinema is located at 260 Aragon Ave. Tickets per screening are $11.75 ($10 seniors/students/military, $7 children 12 and under). For more info click here or call 786-385-9689.