movie screening at sideshow books 

I am in love with movies from the 1970s. They’re shot on film, and there’s nothing like the quality of color that you get with film. But beyond the aesthetics, there were many movies made during this period that were fascinating character studies. Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore, Serpico, The Turning Point, Rocky, Deliverance, Kramer vs. Kramer, Norma Rae… The movies all told a story, but the people—who they were, what they worried about, what delighted them, their quirks—were as important. Relationships were explored in these movies. Friendships. Family. Anthropologically, these films present a slice of life, with real respect for what that life is. I can’t get enough. Sideshow Books is hosting a little film series out behind the shop, and the 1970 movie Joe was first up. I’d never heard of it before, but its a classic. Written by Norman Wexler, who wrote some of my favorite 70s films. Directed by John Avildsen (ditto). The movie gives space to moments that do not specifically advance the plot but do deepen our understanding of the characters, not just because of what they say or do but also because we learn more about what their day-to-day life is like. There’s a scene between the title character and his wife that takes places in their home when he’s just come from work. She’s cooking dinner; he’s sitting nearby at the kitchen table, drinking a beer and eating Ritz crackers. He asks her about the characters on her soap opera, and she eagerly fills him in on the latest. And he listens and asks questions. Meanwhile, he finishes the last of the crackers and crushes the box in his big paws. She notices and, while still relating the details of her soap, retrieves a fresh box from the cabinet and gives it to him. Magical.

Susan Sarandon in “Joe,” screened outdoors at Sideshow Books on La Cienaga.