May 15, 2007

I have a theory about the new Sundance Theater here in Madison, Wisconsin.

I have a theory about the Sundance Theater

This is how I look while explaining a theory... specifically, how I look at the Sundance Theater bistro while explaining my theory -- which is mine! -- about the whole Sundance Theater enterprise.

I mean, check out this place:

The bistro at the Sundance Theater

This is upstairs, in case you want to get something to eat and drink before the show. Relax and mellow out. You won't have to worry about going down in time to get the seat you want, because you've got a ticket with the seat number on it, a seat you selected on a touch screen computer down at the box office. And don't worry if you don't have a dining companion to amuse with your theories. Go to the restaurant alone. There's WiFi. And think about it: you should go to that café downstairs all the time and hang out, use the WiFi, drink some coffee, and just see if you get in the mood to drift over into one of those arthouse-type cinema concoctions they're always showing.

Mmmm... but isn't this kind of... mmmm... elitist? I thought Robert Redford selected Madison for its lefty politics. Who's going to this place, anyway? How much money did you drop there? Who are these people?

Ooohhh.... look... trees:

The bistro at the Sundance Theater

This place is so... green!

See my theory?

What a fabulous commercial niche for the wily old Redford! What a perfect merger of left-and-right-winginess as aesthetic pleasure and refuge from the riff-raff are served up in perfect style. From the right, the aesthetes and sybarites will show up and bring their money because it's beautifully designed to dispense film art, and the lefties can set aside their worries about elitism and bring their money because it's Redford and it's green and it's lefty.

Ah. Enough theorizing. Let's say goodbye to the waitress and go downstairs to see the movie "Waitress." But first, let's pause in the stairwell to rake the Zen garden:

The Zen garden under the staircase at the Sundance Theater

And now, to our supremely comfortable reserved seats. There will be no commercials, no piped-in music, just a perfectly charming and subtle animation occupying the screen to maintain the purity of our aesthetic experience:

On the screen at the Sundance Theater

54 comments:

MadisonMan said...

Did you see the movie with Miss Ann Elk?

Mike said...

Damn, MM!

AJ Lynch said...

Can they measure the speed of a mind? Cause yours is always zooming with ideas and different thoughts. Great post Ann.

AJ Lynch said...

Oh and that looks like a dropcloth you are raking- were there painters around?

AlphaLiberal said...

Yeah, art must be bad. Bad art, bad! bad!

vet66 said...

What was the wine you were drinking?

As for Redford, I figured him out decades ago when he divorced Lola and made the Milagro Beanfield War.

In yet further proof that the rules only apply to us, the illiterati cretins, he and William Devane went skiing on the flanks of Mt. Timpanogos in Utah's Wasatch Mts. at the Sundance ski resort.

While the rest of us peasants were staying inside the resort's boundaries and avoiding the National Forest like the good 'sheep' we are, Redford and Devane had a better idea. They hired a helicopter to fly them way up the mountain so they could ski down virgin snow. The noise of the helicopter on a clear winter day was notable even for us cave dwellers including the authorities.

The glowing pair were met at the bottom and summarily disciplined. I haven't been to Sundance since and studiously avoid Reford and Devane presentations. So much for environmentalism and role models!

AlphaLiberal said...

I guess the part I don't get is whoever said that leftism means gritty or grimy? Or that "artistic " is synonymous with "elitist".

Your theory says more abot your own attitudes towards the great unwashed masses. That any place which is nice must not be for them.

Look, Ann, you've got this equivalence of things "left" with some type of dreary Sovet-style utilitarianism. Perhaps you could allow this artistic experience to challenge your own assumptions about the world rather than going in determined to find something "wrong" with Sundance 608.

Just try to enjoy it, without copping your own elitist attitude.

Roger said...

OK--I'll bite; theory hell; great cleavage.

Simon said...

Roger - good clavicle, too. ;)

tjl said...

"whoever said that leftism means gritty or grimy?"

Right, just look at any recent photos of Havana and you'll agree with Alpha that this assumption is SO false and right-wing.

Freder Frederson said...

Whaa!? I thought that leftists were the effete elitists! Remember, Conservatives and Republicans are Nascar lovin', brush clearin', plain spoken, skull and bones members (oops, strike that last one), hard-workin' people of the people. They wouldn't be caught dead watching a movie like 'Waitress'. They're waiting for 'Live Free or Die Hard' to come out.

Pay no attention to Buffy at the Country Club.

Freeman Hunt said...

What's with the reader's Choice Question on the WSJ today?

What do you want
to see on tomorrow's
front page?

* Grisly dismemberments in Japan

* Smith: Training for a triathlon

* Dane County cities planning for commuter rail

Galvanized said...

Ooooh, wily indeed! and something that I've suspected for the past few years. Pretty astute post, Ms. Althouse.

I just wonder if Sundance has evolved into what Mr. Redford originally intended. He built it, and they were sure to come, but one wonders if he misses that whole indie feel...the way indie used to feel, anyway. Still, the quality of the work has remained. Although the budgets have most probably inflated. This should be call a new genre of moviemaking/greenlighting/marketing -- "sundie" rather than "indie."

Peter Palladas said...

Althouse - great cleavage.

Tim said...

The Zen Garden makes me wish I were a cat.

And I don't like cats.

Galvanized said...

Don't bite on that, AA. ;)

Ruth Anne Adams said...

Vet66 wrote: The glowing pair were met at the bottom and summarily disciplined.

Cleavage and kinky stuff. Excellent!

Pogo said...

1. It is probably just me, but that still from the charming and subtle animation bears more than a passing resemblance to the Hell portion of the triptych by Hieronymus Bosch. Coincidence? I think not. Beware film festivals.

2. Robert Redford's leftism is thin at one end, much MUCH thicker in the middle, and then thin again at the far end.

peter hoh said...

There's a lot of green to be had in going green. I helped out at a booth at the recent Living Green Expo in the Twin Cities, and man, has that event gotten commercial over the past 6 years. Half the people in attendence had a look in their eyes that seemed to say, "How can I spend money to make myself feel like I am doing something good and noble?"

John Stodder said...

The Zen Garden is hilarious. The only Zen gardens I'd seen before this were small office novelties.

Are there any other giant office novelties at Sundance? Giant steel spheres that swing back and forth symmetrically? Maybe a giant stress ball? Or a giant array of needles that form into the shape of whatever they're on top of?

The Drill SGT said...

Ann said...From the right, the aesthetes and sybarites will show up and bring their money

you are off by several generations. All those trust fund babies who lived wasted lives in Greenwich or Manhattan are now firmly on the left of the Democratic party. Previously, they might have supported Preston Bush or Rockefeller, but now Edwards on some money guilt trip.

Republicans go to the Grand Ol Opry for culture and watch NASCAR.

I have to use my Dem wife's ID when I sneak tickets to the NSO concerts, else the GOP find out and cancel my membership in the vast right wing conspiracy.

LoafingOaf said...

Yes, extremely, sickeningly elitist. I like seeing movies with the riff-raff. If I'm seeing a popular movie, I try and see it on opening night specifically to share it with an excited, buzzing crowd of teenagers and college students.

The biggest local Centrum cineplex around here has a restaurant next to it where motorcyclists often congregate by the hundreds. Now that's a fun place to have a bite before a flick, compared with having to see yuppies raking a zen garden while they discuss the latest Michael Moore film.

But if this helps get Redford's target customers going back to the movies instead of just renting DVDs, I guess more power to him.

I have to admit the seat number idea is a great one. I think that's the norm in England, and hopefully this will start a trend in the States.

MadisonMan said...

Pogo, point #2 is funny.

trev said...

OMG, the first thing I saw here was breasts,breasts.
This blog has BREASTS EVERYWHERE BREASTS.
OMG!!!

Ann Althouse said...

Pogo: I agree about the Bosch, but see more elements from the Heaven panel of the tryptych.

Drill: "... All those trust fund babies who lived wasted lives in Greenwich or Manhattan are now firmly on the left of the Democratic party... Republicans go to the Grand Ol Opry for culture and watch NASCAR."

I'm not talking about NYC or the south. I'm talking about Madison, Wisconsin, the one place Redford chose to start his project. The affluent righties around here aren't like any of those people, I don't think. I think they are professional types who go in for the arts. In any case, I'm not talking about trying to appeal to all the righties. I'm talking about a business venture with the power to draw in the people with money. It's easier to get the righties to go and pay for these things. How do you design a theater with the maximum ability to make money? I think this is a brilliant scheme. I think the lefty attitude would be to feel bad about shunning the riff raff and to be wary of glitzy places that want your money, and for most adults beyond a certain age, the result of this attitude is not go to the movies (except to take your kids out for some fun). Sundance is a way to get them out and spending big. Forget the popcorn and candy. Sell wine, pasta, steak, and coffee drinks. And make the tickets $10+.

Fen said...

OMG, the first thing I saw here was breasts,breasts. This blog has BREASTS EVERYWHERE BREASTS. OMG!!!

But nowhere are they being arched in supplication to a sexual predator.

Half the people in attendence had a look in their eyes that seemed to say, "How can I spend money to make myself feel like I am doing something good and noble?"

Thats the mindset of most liberals I know. Its not so much a philosophy to them - its cover, along the lines of so maybe I molested the babysitter, but I Believe in World Peace, so I'm not such a bad guy...

ricpic said...

It's those craggy looks. With craggy looks an imperious snob gets all spiritchal, dontchaknow.

Jeff said...

"I think the lefty attitude would be to feel bad about shunning the riff raff and to be wary of glitzy places that want your money"

Maybe the really crunchy radical left feel bad, but not the upper-middle class, grad-studenty left that loves Whole Foods and Fresh Fields and goes on eco-vacations in Costa Rica and listens to NPR (rather than Pacifica). Like good Bobo's they love vaguely artsy theaters and restaurants that cater to their tastes and disdain the chain resaturants and multiplex theaters that feed and entertain to the mindless red state philistines.

paul a'barge said...

Freeman: What do you want
to see on tomorrow's
front page


Well, for starters, Althouse in that black dress.

Madison Guy said...

My take: Saturday night at Sundance 608: Cute little Zen garden, mediocre movie, lousy prices. Maybe Sundance needs the money to pay their Zen master to rake the sand and keep the garden looking pristine and soothing for moviegoers, I wrote. Little did I know they were using volunteers. You wield a mean rake, Ann.

vet66 said...

One person's Zen Garden is another persons cat box! I wonder if our illustrious Prof found anything untoward in the Garden of Zen?

For Ruth Anne: WHIP! CRACK!!

vet66 said...

Note to the ladies;

Hanging a pendant in your cleavage is like polishing a cannonball. A nice touch but unnecessary!

Bissage said...

Here’s a better rake.

Here’s a much better rake.

Here’s a much better idea, alltogether.

ricpic said...

Fock the riffraff.

Tim said...

"I think the lefty attitude would be to feel bad about shunning the riff raff and to be wary of glitzy places that want your money"

Not here, it isn't:
http://www.4thstreetshop.com/

PatCA said...

No. Way.

They do not let patrons rake the Zen garden!

Freder Frederson said...

The affluent righties around here aren't like any of those people, I don't think. I think they are professional types who go in for the arts.

I would imagine the affluent righties around Madison are like the affluent righties around where I went to school undergrad, DeKalb, IL. Rich farmers with huge farms and agribusiness executives who support massive farm subsidies.

Pogo said...

A rake, although not nnecessarily a better rake.

And definitely not a Zen rake.

AJD said...

I have a theory, too:

A certain someone is feeling neglected. Not enough attention has been paid to her lately! So here's the bait: a drunk-face, wine-swilling picture centered on someone's cleavage.

I dare you to point those things out!!

But it's just a theory, and it bears no relationship to any living person.

Sigivald said...

"I am Mojo Jojo, and this theory, which is mine, is the theory that I, Mojo Jojo, have theorised on this subject!"

joe said...

The face doesn't look particularly drunk. The wine is not being swilled. The cleavage is fine. Damn fine. A toast to the cleavage.

al said...

No bony clavicle and plenty of cleavage - how unfashionable. But very nice!

al said...

They're waiting for 'Live Free or Die Hard' to come out.

Yep. We are! :-)

Bissage said...

Cool! I found a picture of a Zen Garden absolutely brimming with AJD.

boston70 said...

think the theater looks cool and lets face it Madison can certainly support a theater like this.

Every time I go home to Madison the movies seem to be at Eastgate or West Towne. These theaters suck unless you like the most mainstream boring movies and tons of kids running around. The indie films are at Westgate which is a hole in the wall. And didn't they close down University Square 4 and Hilldale theaters-they were dumps too.

You like nice things Ann so whats your beef about a nice theater? Is it because it is a nice theater or because some lefty thought about it? Or did you think spouting off about it would make your righty fans love you more?

I am sure you will be going there frequently just not telling your fans-don't want them to think your some "elitist".

Does going to nice restaurants, driving nice cars, going to museums, and coffee houses make you elitist?

Ann Althouse said...

Boston: I love the place. I'm just saying some things about the business model. I'm not anti-business. And I'm happy to spend my money here.

Bissage: LOL.

Several people: I agree about the quality of the rake.

XWL said...

More importantly, was Waitress as good as the reviews, or was it a bit too sitcom-y (as it somewhat appears to be)?

(and Christopher (I'm assuming he's behind the lens) takes excellent and interesting photos of you)

And we're getting an upgraded "indy" film mecca here in West LA (claims to be biggest in the USA, take that Madison), too (listen to the presentation for some great details on current trends in upscale consumer coddling interior treatments and material choices (bamboo and bronze are must haves)).

Marketing of these kind of pics, and the new lush/louche digs to show them, has definitely gone full force on the snob appeal lately.

(not that there's anything wrong with that)

Edmund said...

I popped over to Madison Guy's blog to see his comments. I noted that he paid a $3 reserved seat fee in addition to the ticket price. Heh.

How much you want to bet that the fee is not part of the box office take? Why is that important? Well, most studios charge the theaters a percentage of the box office for rental. For blockbuster movies (Spidey 3, etc.) it starts at 100% of the box office for one to two weeks, and ramps down from there. Lesser films start at lower percentages and ramp from there. Hence the industry quip that movie theaters show you free movies in order to sell you popcorn and drinks.

So, by tacking on a fee for reserved seats, he gets to keep that, and not pay it to his buddies in the indie film business. Great way to support the industry.

In any case, can you get food at your seats? A Texas chain, Alamo drafthouse does that. It's great to see a movie with a couple of pizzas and a pitcher of beer at the seats.

MadisonMan said...

boston70, not only was University Square 4 Theater closed, but the building was leveled and an 8 (10? 12?) story behemoth is being erected in its place.

richard mcenroe said...

For some reason, that photo reminds me of the "sounds" sketch from the third side of that legendary Monty Python three-sided LP...

Peter Palladas said...

The word 'cleavage' has appeared here with greater frequency than last noted in Eighteenth century English literature. See 'Pamela' passim.

TMink said...

Here in Nashville I eschew seeing movies in theaters for two reasons. The technical presentation typically sicks with poor focus and often poor quality or dirty prints. And no place in town lets me drink an adult beverage while I watch my out of focus, dusty print.

So I got a BATV and surround and wath them at home with my wife and a glass of something. Last night was Seven Samurai and a mojito. Though due to two mojitos I only made it through 3 samurai.

Trey

Leslie said...

Nice photo with the wine glass, Ann! The cleavage is a beautiful touch. It makes me want to bed you :)

froggyprager said...

Interesting comments, I agree that it is smart how they appeal to the left and right. I went to see a movie there on Saturday and it was very busy and the film was sold out. I predict that the place will be out of business and closed in two years. I enjoyed the whole thing including the red velvet cupcake but I thought the ticket prices were too high. I like the concept and think it would do fine in SF, Chicago, etc. but there is not enough $ and people in Madison interesting in the product. Westgate seems to have a very low budget operations and probably low rent and seems to barly break even. Between the new arts center, which is struggling financially, and this place how many people in this town will support such a venture. It is only busy now because it is new.