Amid criticism of past mismanagement, two of the co-founders are remaking the 77-year-old Silent Movie Theatre with 'Uncut Gems' on the bill.
After the Cinefamily ceased operations at Los Angeles' Silent Movie Theatre in 2017 amid sexual misconduct allegations, the venue's landlords, Dan and Sammy Harkham, decided to reopen it themselves. On Christmas Day, after a year-long full renovation, the rechristened 163-seat Fairfax Cinema debuts with a showing, exclusively in 35mm on the West Coast, of Uncut Gems, from Dec. 25 to Jan. 9. The film's directors, Josh and Benny Safdie, will guest-program eight other films during the run at the new cinematheque-style venue.
"I'm excited to be making a theater that can create a context for films of various decades and fold into someone's cultural diet," says Sammy Harkham, a cartoonist and graphic novelist and editor of the Kramers Ergot comics anthology series and the for-profit theater's creative director. “I felt like this was something worth preserving — a local single-screen theater."
The two-story building, opened in 1942 and located at 611 N. Fairfax Avenue, will include an outdoor patio, bookstore, cafe and art space. Harkham worked with Alejandro Artigas and Melissa Ritchie on a redesign that added contemporary elements — including white oak finishes and green and teal tones — while still, he says, respecting the structure's midcentury design. “We didn't want it to feel like a nostalgic space, and we also didn't want it to be super-modern,” says Harkham.
New signage on the marquee includes a circular neon display with a text logo of the cinema's name designed by L.A.-based graphic designer Claire Hungerford and, on the reverse, an image of a hand holding an eyeball by Canadian artist Shary Boyle. There's also a large neon squiggle front and center on the building, a graphic image that Hakrham said was inspired by both “Russian graffiti from 1991 or 1992 on Instagram” and “a diagram of a certain kind of moss I saw at the Museum of Jurassic Technology.”
Harkham says additional filmmakers, plus film experts, institutional partners, writers and artists, will program the theater going forward. “We're honored to be part of the launch of Fairfax Cinema," says Josh Safdie, "It is rare for a theater to offer delicacies both high and low with no superficial distinction between films. We respect the genuine intention to spread the obsessive cinephilic bug."
As to ongoing criticism in the film community about mismanagement of Cinefamily, which the Harkhams co-founded — the Harkham brothers were board members and Dan served as treasurer of the nonprofit — Sammy Harkham says, “We helped puttogether but it wasn't our project. We never ran Cinefamily and our involvement was limited.” He adds that he and his brother “were always looking forward to the day when we would get the space back.”
A version of this story first appeared in the Dec. 19 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.
It’s almost time for Adventure Time to return to our screens. The acclaimed Cartoon Network show is making a short comeback on HBO Max in the form of four animated specials that catch up with our favorite residents of the Land of Ooo. As we near the May launch of HBO Max, the streamer has released the first Adventure Time: Distant Lands teaser, along with synopses of the four exciting new specials.
Adventure Time Distant Lands Teaser
Come on, grab your friends. The adventure continues with Adventure Time: Distant Lands, a series of four animated specials that will each focus on a different character from the disarmingly good Cartoon Network series created by Pendleton Ward. The teaser for Adventure Time: Distant Lands doesn’t show us much from the upcoming specials apart from some flashes of our favorite characters including Finn, Jake, Marceline, Princess Bubblegum, BMO and Peppermint Butler, but it’s enough.
It feels like it’s been years since we’ve seen these characters, who all went through drastic journeys during the whimsical, surprisingly sad, original series. But the synopses for the specials hint at an exciting reunion for Finn the human and his best friend Jake the dog, after the ambiguous, bittersweet ending of the original series. The other specials focus on BMO, Marceline and Princess Bubblegum, and Peppermint Butler.
Here are the official synopses for the four specials:
Episode 1 titled “BMO” – “When there’s a deadly space emergency in the farthest reaches of the galaxy, there’s only one hero to call, and it’s probably not BMO. Except that this time it is!”
Episode 2 titled “Obsidian” – “Marceline and Princess Bubblegum journey to the imposing, beautiful Glass Kingdom — and deep into their tumultuous past — to prevent an earthshaking catastrophe.”
Episode 3 titled “Wizard City” – “Peppermint Butler starts over at the beginning, as just another inexperienced Wizard School student. When mysterious events at the campus cast suspicion on Pep, and his checkered past, can he master the mystic arts in time to prove his innocence?”
Episode 4 titled “Together Again” – “Finn and Jake [reunite] to rediscover their brotherly bond and embark on the most important adventure of their lives.”
Adventure Time: Distant Lands debuts on HBO Max soon.