The Reel Less Traveled -July 2022


Look to the Skies

    I usually end columns with my tagline about light, images and reel magic, but here, in the month of July, seeking out light is not really a problem – and I’m not just talking about fireworks. Both the Orinda Theatre and the Orinda Parks and Recreation Foundation are also providing a wide variety of illuminating programs, so let’s get right to it.
    Going in reverse order, we’ll start with this month’s outdoor viewing of Raya and the Last Dragon. This is one of Disney’s most recent efforts, and though many might have already seen it streaming on Disney+, it’s a safe bet that seeing it again will reveal details you might not have seen the first time. The fact it will be projected writ large at the Orinda Community Center Park is a plus.
    In many ways, this film has parallels to Avatar: The Last Airbender in that it starts out with unity rent asunder and an overall goal of repairing that which was broken. Martial arts and flying dragons play a large part in achieving this goal. It’s also one of the more beautiful films Disney has put out recently. It screens July 15 at dusk. Bring blankets and prepare for the possibility of the usual cool Orinda evening breeze.
    Sheltering-in-place and duck-and-cover are hardly the purview of the 21st Century, though if you want to see the next film, it might still be a good idea, especially since that sheltered place is the Orinda Theatre. This is where you’ll see July’s edition of The Chiller Diller Theatre.
    Anyone of a certain age will certainly remember there was a time when we were genuinely fearful of aliens from outer space coming to Earth and taking over. The ‘50s and ‘60s were rife with movies with just that theme, and no film was better at stoking those fears than Earth vs. The Flying Saucers.
    Released in 1956, it takes a more grounded approach to the alien invasion trope, much in the same way Orson Welles’ radio broadcast did, by putting us on the ground floor of this terror from outer space.
    It features the usual stunning stop-motion work from effects master, Ray Harryhausen. Also, keep an ear out for legendary voice actor Paul Frees as the enunciator of the aliens. It screens July 16 at 9:30 p.m.
    For further information, go to, not just to check out movie times and dates, but also for the many other live action events.
    At this time, there’s no scheduled movie from the International Film Showcase this month, but, as ever, you may also want to check out just to be safe.
    And so, until we meet again, remember … well, you know what I’m going to say: enjoy those wonderful images made from light and sound, since that’s where the reel magic lies.

Tom Westlake can be reached at

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