The Reel Less Traveled – May 2021


Best Laid Plans

    I planned this whole month’s column about director “B” sides – films made by famous directors that veered from their typical output.
    For instance, did you know Alfred Hitchcock made, not one, but two comedies (Mr. & Mrs. Smith and The Trouble with Harry) and one historical drama (Jamaica Inn)? I intended to write all about him and David Lynch (The Straight Story) and even Gore Verbinski (A Cure for Wellness) among others, but then something wonderful happened.
    I received news that was so good and locally significant – not to mention timely – I had no choice but to postpone the idea or to leave it to interested readers to email me about it.
    The Orinda Theatre is opening again!
    Many of you knew this because you have already been there, probably to see Godzilla vs. Kong, which has been playing on a reservation-only basis. Others of the community’s loyal followers of our cinematic landmark might have been alerted either via the theater’s Facebook page ( or by email in which Derek Zemrak has set May 1 as an official soft opening day.
    Keep in mind this will not be a full reopening at first. Caution is still the watchword of the day, which means that only the main auditorium will be open. Further, the theater plans to allow only about 7% of capacity (or about 50 people – give or take) at any one time, still far better than what has been.
    This is cause for a massive, socially distant celebration, and that’s exactly what will be happening.
    On that first day in May, the Orinda Theatre plans to feature the welcome return of the Psychotronix Film Festival (PFF). Now to those unfamiliar with the PFF, the best way I might be able to prepare you, would be to get you to recall those distant childhood memories many of you might share. You know, those lazy days you spent camped out in front of the TV, watching your favorite shows and equally favorite commercials.
    Come on. Admit it. You know at least one catchy jingle. Well, imagine a whole program like that but even better since there will also be samples of movie related staple fillers like invitations to visit the snack bar, previews of obscure coming attractions and many other rare and bizarre 16mm short subjects. This show will start at 7:30 p.m., and all this madness can be yours for the low, low price of $12.
    And as loathe as I am to use this cliché, “but wait! There’s more!” The International Film Festival makes a grand return on May 15 with Riders of Justice, a 2021 Danish film featuring Mads Mikkelsen, who is probably known to American audiences as Dr. Hannibal Lecter on the wildly successful television show Hannibal, though many might also recognize him from other films such as Casino Royale (2006), Quantum of Solace and Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. Usually playing a villain or, at best, a conflicted good guy, here he plays a man hell-bent on vengeance after a tragedy he finds out was a highly organized assassination with horrific collateral damage. Playing in the medium theater at the Orinda, showings take place at 1p.m., 4 p.m. and 7 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays only. As it is with the main theatre, seating will be limited to 50 people only but as there will be several showings, that should give everyone ample opportunity to come out of seclusion and support this welcome return.
    As ever, I urge you to keep checking in with the Orinda Theatre’s Facebook page as well as and, until next month, always go towards those wonderful flickering images of light since that’s where the reel magic lies.

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