Dear Laemmle Fans,
There are some people who like movies. And then there are some people who REALLY like movies.
To honor the latter category, Laemmle Theatres would like to present an interview that we recently conducted with local movie connoisseur and Laemmle super-fan, Nina Levy. Since the pandemic shutdown began in March, Nina has already watched (and rated) over 60 films available on Laemmle virtual Cinema!
Pictured: Nina in her “home cinema” with her two-year-old Chihuahua-Terrier mix, Lucy (the same breed as the dog in Marona’s Fantastic Tale).
Who are you? Tell us a bit about yourself!
My name is Nina, and I’m from Los Angeles, more specifically its San Fernando Valley. Movies have been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. The first film I was obsessed with was James Cameron’s Titanic, an epic love story with emotions heightened by a tragic disaster and an incredible score by James Horner. Over the years, the magnitude of my interest and focus on films has wavered, but the presence of films is always there. Fortunately, my family also shares a strong interest in movies. My siblings’ first jobs were working in a movie theatre. My mom enjoys going to the theatres to watch movies. My dad probably watches at least one movie a day at home, especially since his retirement.
Several of my visits to Laemmle Theatres were shared with my friend Dina whom I have known since 2002 when we met in high school.She and I watched quite a variety of films, particularly during our college years and after graduation, which was a big influence on my continued taste for foreign and indie films.Our shared interests led us to explore films such as Michel Gondry’s The Science of Sleep and John Carney’s Once.
What’s your favorite movie of all time?
My favorite movie of all time is a recent one that captivated me: Céline Sciamma’s Portrait of a Lady on Fire. I attended its special sneak preview in February at Laemmle’s NoHo 7 theatre. It’s hard for me to put into words how this film has moved me, but it did in a profound way. It is evident how much this film has moved many other people, especially with the growing Portrait Nation community who continues to shower respect, love, and support upon Céline Sciamma and the film’s ladies Noémie Merlant, Adèle Haenel, and Luàna Bajrami. It is Céline’s masterpiece and truly a work of art.
3.) When was the first time you visited Laemmle Theatres?
The first time I visited Laemmle Theatres was probably in the early 2000s. I definitely watched films at Laemmle Theatres during high school, but I can’t remember if my first visit was then or before that during junior high.
Which theatre do you attend most often?
I attend Laemmle’s Town Center 5 theatre in Encino more often than Laemmle’s other locations.I used to visit Laemmle’s Fallbrook 7 in West Hills quite a lot over many years. When it closed several years ago, I was a bit heartbroken. I was drawn to its nostalgic atmosphere. I watched many great films at that theatre, such as Marjane Satrapi’s Persepolis.
What’s your favorite snack from the concessions stand?
My favorite snack from the concession stand is popcorn with extra butter drizzled on top. Sometimes I get nachos, but it’s hard to resist the allure of the classic cinema snack.
What do you miss most about going to the movies?
What I miss most about going to the movies is stepping into another world, another life when the lights dim and the film begins.The big screen is like open arms welcoming its audience to be part of the film’s story. There are certain films that I think could only truly be appreciated by watching them in the theatres. After first hearing about Loving Vincent by Dorota Kobiela and Hugh Welchman, I occasionally checked for updates on how the film’s progress was going. My excitement could hardly be contained when it was finally ready for release. I watched Loving Vincent at Laemmle’s Town Center 5 theatre. I felt goosebumps as the film started playing. I couldn’t believe my eyes. I was mesmerized by the art and the heartache.
I have always preferred to watch films in the theatres. When I read Greg’s newsletter post announcing the launch of Laemmle’s Virtual Cinema, I shared a similar sentiment. I was not totally comfortable with the transition to video-on-demand, but in times like these, in a way, it has become a necessity.
What’s your favorite thing about virtual cinema?
My favorite thing about virtual cinema is getting to experience new AND old films.I love that Laemmle Theatres has included classic films in its releases. I really enjoyed watching the restorations of Jules Dassin’s 1955 Rififi, Reinhold Schünzel’s 1933 Victor and Victoria, and Leontine Sagan’s 1931 Mädchen in Uniform.
The selection of films has also featured such a wide variety of genres that it piqued my curiosity, and I found myself watching films that I normally wouldn’t go to the theatre for, such as Peter Cattaneo’s Military Wives which I actually enjoyed so much that I watched it once per day that the rental was available. I bought the soundtrack after watching the film. The ladies’ rendition of Yazoo’s Only You is beautiful.
Which have been your favorite virtual releases so far?
My favorite virtual release so far is Anca Damian’s Marona’s Fantastic Tale which beautifully combines a heartwarming story with two big interests of mine: dogs and art. I also enjoyed watching the Q&A with Anca Damian that was included in the virtual release. Anca’s collaboration with her son Anghel for the screenplay, artist Brecht Evens for the animation design, and composer Pablo Pico for the music resulted in a unique film that I think and hope will be enjoyed by people beyond a niche audience. Just when I thought the film couldn’t get better, we are treated to a wonderful song Happiness written by Pablo Pico and performed by Isabel Sorling during the end credits. I highly recommend this film.
Of course, I enjoyed other films through Laemmle’s Virtual Cinema, particularly Levan Akin’s And Then We Danced, Christophe Honoré’s On a Magical Night, and Benjamin Ree’s The Painter and the Thief.
Which upcoming releases are you most excited about (virtual or otherwise)?
I am most excited for Zoé Wittock’s Jumbo which is her feature directorial debut and stars Noémie Merlant from Portrait of a Lady on Fire. The film premiered at the Sundance Film Festival earlier this year and was recently released on July 1st in theatres in France. I am intrigued by its unique love story that is sure to stir up many different emotions in its audience. Hopefully Jumbo will be distributed in the United States sometime this year. Other upcoming releases that I am looking forward to seeing are First Cow by Kelly Reichardt, Wonder Woman 1984 by Patty Jenkins, The Green Knight by David Lowery, and Soul by Pete Docter.
What’s your best piece of advice on getting through the pandemic?
My best piece of advice on getting through the pandemic is to try to stay positive. These are difficult times for many, if not most, people. How could people not feel anxious at a time like this? Empathy is sorely needed now, perhaps more than ever in recent times. Whether it be helping a friend or family member who became unemployed or supporting a local theatre to help keep it alive, such acts of generosity, however little they may seem, can make a huge difference in others’ lives. I sincerely hope that good things come to those who are struggling right now, physically, emotionally, or financially. If we all take a moment to remember that “it’s not about me”, I think we could make great progress on positively getting through the pandemic together.