Thursday, July 19, 2012

Worcester Movies on the Common 2012: Raiders of the Lost Ark

The evening of June 21st marked the start of the 2012 season of Movies on the Common in Worcester, MA.  This series is put on by the group Worcester Film Works.  The movie featured that night was "Raiders of the Lost Ark" (1981) and was preceded by two musical acts, James Keyes and The Luxury.  As I wrote in 2012 Worcester Movies on the Common, I was planning on going to the show, but wasn't sure when I'd get there or whether either of my Little Monsters would be joining me.  It turned out that I wasn't able to arrive at the Worcester common until around 7:30, but The Little Monster did indeed accompany me for a little quality father-daughter time.  Here's what night one was like...

The show started ("doors opened") at 5:00.  Because we didn't arrive until 7:30 we completely missed the set by James Keyes, so I can't say anything about that one.  By the time we settled in we only got to see the last half-hour or so of The Luxury's set.  They are a rockin' band though and I would have liked to have heard more.  It's tough to perform at a show like this and play original tunes.  Cover tunes of stuff that people are familiar with tends to go over better (even if it's of less artistic integrity) with a random audience that's mainly there to watch a movie.  The Luxury played bits of some covers (and sounded good in doing so), but mainly played their own material--and that sounded very good as well.  I'm not familiar with the band and have never heard anything by them previously, so I went into it with fresh ears and liked what I heard.

The Luxury performs on the Worcester Common before the movie

I have to point out that the musical part of these shows is a major plus.  The whole point of the show is to see a movie on the big screen outside during the summer for free (it is called Movies on the Common after all).  You certainly get that, but there's so much more too.  Last year the first musical act didn't appear until the second show and by the third show there were two acts.  This year the schedule included two acts before each of the three shows.  It really is tough to beat this program for free summer entertainment!

Back to the show.  After The Luxury finished up the stage was transformed into a movie screen while the band packed up.  A member of Worcester Film Works let the growing crowd know that the movie would start up once it got dark enough.

From stage...

...To screen

With a break in the action it was time to check out what else there was to see around the Common.  The Little Monster was ready for some ice cream so our first stop was the Sweet Sister truck for a Pink Panther ice cream bar.

Vendors lining one of the Common's walkways

The Sweet Sister Ice Cream truck

Decisions, decisions...

A happy Little Monster!

Next we stopped at The Theatre Cafe's table and I got one of their tasty pulled pork sandwiches for myself.  Both of these vendors were present at last year's shows, but because of ongoing construction were set up on the opposite side of the Common this time.

Tables for The Theatre Cafe and That's Entertainment

Worcester Film Works had their own table set up as usual of course.  And probably the most exciting news of the night was that WFW's popcorn machine was actually working!  Last year they had a popcorn machine at each of the three shows, but it became a bit of an unintentional running joke because it failed to work at all of them!  It was a pretty big deal to see them selling popcorn that was actually popped in the machine on this night.  They had small bags available for a dollar and big buckets for three dollars.  Of course I HAD to get one of the buckets to celebrate the fact that the machine actually worked.

Worcester Film Works' table

Admiring the poster for the Movies on the Common series

Freshly popped popcorn! (at last!)

There was one new vendor set up at this show too--Worcester comic book store That's Entertainment (aka That's E!).  Actually, calling That's Entertainment a comic book store is selling them short.  A better description would be the one that they use--it's a "Pop Culture Emporium".  They had a selection of Worcester T-shirts for sale and also had a box of free comic books!  I got a copy of The Walking Dead and The Little Monster got an issue of Archie Comics.  We returned to our seats to eat ice cream and pulled pork and browse through our comics while waiting for "Raiders of the Last Ark" to start.

Ice Cream!

Pulled pork and free comic books, a great combo!

The Little Monster reads Archie while waiting for the film to start

Because this show was put on during some of the longest days of the year it wasn't until about 9:00 that it got dark enough to start the movie.  Film buffs might be a bit disappointed to learn that these movies are projected off of DVDs rather than being true film presentations.  It's hard to complain though when you remember that you're getting this wonderful outdoor entertainment for free!

Darkness (gradually) falls on Worcester Common

Firing up the DVD projector
And it's Showtime at last!

There's actually not too much to say about "Raiders of the Lost Ark".  It's obviously a great, classic film that speaks for itself.  The Little Monster hadn't seen it before, so it was new to her.  There are obviously a few questionable parts for a six-year-old, but she took most of it in stride.  I was a bit impressed that she (mostly) stayed awake right through the movie, which didn't end until about 11:00.  Interestingly enough, she tried to tell me that she fell asleep and missed the climatic Ark-opening-nazi-melting scene, but the fact that she knew what it was that she "missed" made it obvious that she had indeed seen it.  Nearly a month later I feel confident that she wasn't emotionally scarred by the experience.  She hasn't reported any nightmares or sleepless nights inspired by the movie.  I do think she was a tad young to really get everything in "Raiders", but am glad that she was able to accompany me on what turned out to be another wonderful night on the Worcester common.  The crowd was estimated at 375.  That's not bad at all--especially considering that Worcester was in the midst of a heat wave at the time, and sitting outside to watch a movie wasn't as enticing an idea as it normally would be without the oppressive heat.

The second show in the Movies on the Common series is rapidly approaching.  On Thursday July 19th the film shown on the Common will be "Jaws" (1975), another Steven Spielberg classic and one of the very first true "Summer Blockbusters".  Starting at 5:00 the bands IzaJane and Heavy Horses will open the show.  As usual, in the case of inclement weather the show will be postponed until the following Thursday, the 26th.  I personally didn't see "Jaws" for the first time until it appeared on TV in the early 1980s, and even though I was almost a teenager by then I remember being terrified by the film.  Because of this I'm going to go to this one alone.  I'm pretty sure that The Little Monster isn't quite ready for "Jaws".  We're going camping at the beach in Connecticut this weekend and I can just imagine her being petrified by the thought of going into the ocean and encountering a great white shark.  It doesn't help that over the past couple of weeks there have actually been numerous shark sightings off of New England beaches--including great whites.  Hopefully I'll be able to get up the nerve to step into the ocean myself after watching "Jaws" on the common.  We shall see...

Just when you thought it was safe to go back to The Common!

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