by William Goss
The Enzian is in the midst of its annual KidFest summer movie series, a tradition going fifteen years strong. Seeing as most screenings feature 35mm prints and every screening is free on weekdays, I decided to stop by on Monday afternoon to catch "The Freshman," the classic 1925 comedy about an earnest nerd (Jay Baruchel Michael Cera Rick Moranis Harold Lloyd) making the worst first impression he can on his arrival to Tate University.
Now, mind you, I've missed out on a lot of silents -- in fact, if it's a film made before 2007, I probably haven't seen it -- but never have I seen a film so devoid of color (literally!) and loaded with contrivance. Oh, the girl he meets on the train happens to work at the hotel where our hero's renting a room! Oh, his tailor hasn't finished his suit and has to tag along during the school dance in order to repair it with every new tear! Worse yet, the Enzian's usually reliable sound system wasn't pushing any of the dialogue. Never before had a film been so steeped in exposition that words had to fill the screen.
All kidding aside, it was a delight to catch up with, but one thing I noticed during the screening was a young girl and her mother in front of me. Maybe a half-hour into the film, the girl (probably 5, no older than 7) had turned around in her seat and was staring behind me, above us at the flickering beam responsible for all of the slapstick on the screen. For a moment, she was just as transfixed by the projector as the projections, and I just thought that was a wonderful little moment of fascination.
Shortly thereafter, I noticed that she had retreated instead to what had to be either a video game or her mother's cell phone. Any time she adjusted in her seat, the glow became more apparent, causing her mother to ask her to settle down; if she wasn't going to pay attention, the least she could was not draw attention, I suppose. So from the big screen to a small one, her interest drifted, as did mine, and Harold? He kept on doing that jig of his for anyone who'd bother to look up.