Monday, June 23, 2008

Taking It To The Grave: Cinespia Summer Screening Series at Hollywood Forever Cemetery

On Saturday night, I got to hang out at Warren Beatty, Goldie Hawn and Julie Christie at the local cemetery. Well, me and about 700 other people. And it was Warren, Goldie, Julie et al, circa 1975 in the Oscar-winning film Shampoo.

Falling under the 'only in L.A.' category, Cinespia hosts outdoor screenings of classic films every weekend throughout the summer at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery, Hollywood's oldest cemetery and perpetual residence to over 100 celebrities, including Rudolph Valentino, Cecil B DeMille, Jayne Mansfield and Johnny & DeeDee Ramone. (Maps to star graves are available for purchase at the cemetery's flower gift shop. Yes, really.)

I’ve been wanting to go to their cemetery screenings for several summers now but just never got around to it. With my friend G in town, it was a good excuse to show an out-of-towner a "less Sunset Strip, and more ‘sunset over the gravestones and mausoleums’" side of Hollywood.

I've heard finding parking and a good spot along the nice grassy knoll (uninhibited by anyone six feet under) to watch the movie can be difficult, but with gates opening at 7:30pm and the film starting at 9pm, we arrived at 8:15pm and still easily found a cemetery parking spot ($5) and a cozy patch of grass amid the sea of fellow movie-goers stretched out on blankets and lawn chairs.
Revolving weekly DJ’s add pre-screening atmosphere with ambient music while the crowd tailgates cemetery style (food and alcohol into the graveyard is allowed and encouraged); neighboring movie-goers stepped up their picnic’ing prowess with atmospheric voltive candles, wicker baskets brimming with baguettes, cheese and grapes, real champagne flutes and we even spied a bottle of white chillin' in a sterling silver wine bucket. G & I held our own and Whole Foods’ed it with style; bleu and brie cheeses, citrus stuffed olives, turkey sandwiches, a cornucopia of mini pastries (mmmm, the baby banana cream pie was the best) and red wine, tasting mighty good out of our disposable paper cups.

Prompty at 9pm, the music stopped and lights on the large white mausoleum wall/movie screen dimmed as the opening credits started.

Shampoo was enjoyable enough but when you’re sitting outside in tanktop-friendly weather at 11pm with your barefeet on the grass, paper cup of red wine in hand and watching a 10ft high Warren Beatty projected on an outdoor screen flanked by palm trees, what’s on the big screen is kinda besides the point.

I highly recommend checking out a film at the cemetery this summer. Cinespia posts their screening line up the week before, and just added music-themed Sunday screenings in addition to the regular Saturday night screenings. Next week’s screenings are Hitchcock’s The Man Who Knew Too Much (Sat) and t.a.m.i. show (Sun), a concert doc filmed in 1964 starring performances by Check Berry, Marvin Gaye, Smokey Robinson, James Brown, Rolling Stones and Beach Boys.

Check out the upcoming film schedule at: Cinespia
Hollywood Forever Cemetery
6000 Santa Monica Blvd & Gower
Gates open 7:30PM, film starts 9PM
$10 Donation Tickets at the Gate
$5 Cemetery Parking

No comments: