They’re not in Kansas anymore.
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Tired of fireworks and the ever-looming promise of spending a lifetime using three fingers to order five beers they bring? Do you moan at the thought of having your Doodle yanked by another look at that musical paean to proto-fascist tunesmith, George M. Cohan? Then here are a couple of movie-related events to help fill your holiday weekend and even contribute to a worthy cause.

Reading Cinemas Grossmont with TITAN XC

5500 Grossmont Center Drive, La Mesa

The wizards at Reading Cinemas have listened. All Yellow Brick Roads lead to Grossmont Cinema’s “Reel Kids Summer Movie Series.” Let the joyous news be spread: the 10 a.m. screenings of The Wizard of Oz on July 2 and 3 will both be held in the big house. For that matter, every film in the series will get the 60-foot screen treatment! (Less for Oz since it was originally shot in “Academy ratio” of 1.33:1, but darn big nonetheless!)

As indicated in my original announcement piece, there’s a good chance your children have never left the house to visit the Emerald City. (I’m betting the majority of adults have only seen the film on TV.) Load up the family van. Admission is only a buck-a-head.

We all own the video — hopefully the sparkling Blu-ray — but nothing compares to seeing it on a big screen and with an audience. The remastered print is nothing short of spectacular, so sharp that even the most jaded viewer will be able to spot the hanging victim as clear as they can the hair standing on Toto’s tail when Miss Gulch comes to claim him.

Admittedly, I need another screening of The Wizard of Oz like I need a head in my hole. But the Lickona kids have never seen it writ large, and since the folks at Reading were nice enough to answer my plea, I will be there to act as host for the Thursday morning screening. There might even be a few prizes to hand out, kids, so be sure and brush up on your Meinhardt Raabe trivia.

Reading Cinemas Town Square

4665 Clairemont Drive, Clairemont

For those living near Clairemont, “Reel Kids” is also being held at the Reading Town Square. For titles and more information visit Reading Cinemas.

Moving to another part of the forest, one never thought the day would dawn that held a greater promise of finally experiencing Jerry Lewis’s famously unseen Holocaust romp, The Day the Clown Cried, than another MDA Telethon hosted by the Master. Not only did the organization call “cut” on Monsieur Jerry’s set by relieving the host of his command, the MDA recently put an end to its annual Labor Day fundraiser. That’s what they get for dumping on an internationally famous writer, director, producer, star, singer, pantomime artist, stand-up comic, and all-around genius pussycat mush.

Instead of a holiday Telethon, allow me to direct your attention to an extra-special-special marathon that will take place this July 4 weekend. In hopes of raising funds for an outdoor marquee, the Media Arts Center’s Digital Gym has partnered with Turner Classic Movies and the Horrible Imaginings Film Festival to hold a Noir-A-Thon fundraiser.

Digital Gym Cinema

2921 El Cajon Boulevard, North Park

Beginning at 3:30 a.m. on Friday, July 3, and lasting for 24 hours, the Digital Gym will simulcast TCM’s Summer of Darkness. Wait! 3:30 a.m.?! Even Charles McGraw was in bed at that hour, and preferably with Marie Windsor! Check your local cable listings for the exact lineup. Supporters are asked to make their pledges via the crowdfunding website IndieGoGo. TCM will match any funds raised up to $5000. OH, YEAH! TIMPANI!

Always one to state the obvious, it’s my fervent wish that the Digital Gym would hold a fundraiser to purchase a digital projector. Their stellar programming of late cries out for state-of-the-art exhibition. While a marquee facing El Cajon Boulevard would do wonders to raise awareness, they need to concentrate more on what’s on the screen. I’ve mentioned this to head honcho Ethan van Thillo so many times he has the words tattooed on his eardrum. I sense things are about to change. When last we spoke, the ever-cryptic Ethan answered my standard projection question with a, “Check back in August.” Keep everything crossed!

For more information and to pledge your support, visit Digital Gym.

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monaghan July 1, 2015 @ 7:23 p.m.

OMG, Scott Marks as emcee plus a big-screen showing of the "Wizard of Oz!" But wait, what kid over five is available summer week-days at 10 a.m.? Like, every kid I know goes to some kind of organized summer "fun" -- paramilitary junior lifeguards; a YMCA pot-pourri of sports, arts, crafts and snacks; a quickie overview of world religions; backyard science study. I think Reading theater managers may be living in the past on the timing.

But it would be fun to relive history. I was scared to death as a child to see the first "Wizard" in a movie theater long ago. Then I saw it years later on a TV special and the flying monkeys were still scary. When I took my own kids to see it at the (now-defunct) Unicorn Theater in La Jolla, a young couple ahead of us was locked in distracting amorous embrace. (I never could figure out the connection between that film and hooking up.) I saw the movie again in the late '70's, flickering on a television screen in the crowded apartment of a Vietnamese family of newly-arrived refugees in NYC whom my sister-in-law was sponsoring. Now my kids' children watch the "Wizard of Oz"over and over on DVD home screens. Definitely an icon.


Scott Marks July 2, 2015 @ 2:26 p.m.

I don't know, Mon, but there were 300 people in attendance plus the 4 I brought. And they were polite! As soon as a baby started to cry, the parent escorted the tyke to the lobby. I also noticed 3 things that had heretofore slipped past me. More on that later.


Javajoe25 July 1, 2015 @ 11:22 p.m.

Go Scott, Go! A digital projector at Digital Gym; Yes! A marquee to let people know it is a movie theater; Yes! Yes! Too many people are saying they didn't know it is a cinema. They think it is some kind of techno-health club. The name doesn't exactly help. I want to see the place succeed but it's not going to happen if they insist on operating like a University film club. Having staff bust in and out of the door at the front of the theater a few times during the film doesn't help either. They need to pro-up.


Scott Marks July 2, 2015 @ 3:24 p.m.

What's in a name? Call it the Bloody Stump Cinema – or the even more enticing Madstone Cinemas at Hazard Center – for all I care, just so what's onscreen is properly presented. Look around the space. The door at the front of the auditorium was an unavoidable design flaw. It's the only place they could have put an entranceway. Go at night when the sun's down and pray that none of your fellow patrons have a bladder condition that causes frequent visits to the powder room. They baffled the exit sign, so no more fades to green.
I also want to see the place transform into a rousing success. San Diego film lovers desperately need a venue that shows more hardcore art films. Landmark stopped taking risks a long time ago. (Were it not for the AFI Top 100, they wouldn't know how to book a revival series.) I'd have missed far too many outstanding movies had the Gym not been wise enough to bring them to town. But, truth be told, I watch the majority of them at home. As for the "University film club" mentality – and as much as I hate to admit it – the fanboy horror junk they show on weekends helps pay the bills, not class material like "Manglehorn" or "Wetlands." A DCP would get me – and others of my hardened creed – out of the house.


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