Tag Archives: Ohio

Bargain Bin(ge): Blue Arrow Records (Cleveland, OH)

Recently, I took a quick drive up to Cleveland, OH, which was my first time in the prominent Great Lakes city. Admittedly, I only knew as much as the internet had told me of it.

As I usually do when exploring a new city, I set aside some time to hunt for film-related used media: soundtrack records, DVDs, VHS, laserdiscs, etc.

My first stop in Cleveland was Blue Arrow Records, located in the Waterloo Arts District, and surrounded by buildings adorned with street art and sculpture gardens. It definitely has a cool vibe to it, synthesizing a hip and eccentric interior with an anachronistic external aesthetic, punctuated by the eponymous neon blue arrow.

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As far as the selection goes, Blue Arrow is a pure record store, and there aren’t any significant wayward VHS or DVDs to be found hiding out on their shelves. However, they do have a not-to-shabby collection of soundtrack records, of which a number caught my eye.

To Live And Die In LA

To Live And Die In LA is a 1985 crime movie directed by William Friedkin, the lauded New Hollywood auteur who helmed The French Connection and The Exorcist. In many ways, To Live And Die In LA is an attempt to re-capture the success of The French Connection, with a distinctly 1980s flair. One of the keystones of that 1980s aesthetic that Friedkin wanted for the film was the soundtrack, which is provided in entirety by the band Wang Chung. Seriously. Of course, when I saw this soundtrack on the shelves at Blue Arrow for $3, it absolutely went home with me.

I recently saw To Live And Die In LA for the first time, which was spurred on after reading William Friedkin’s autobiography. While it is a bit uneven, the movie is well designed, well acted, features one of the greatest car chases in film history, and is at least partially responsible for the rise of Willam Dafoe. It is a pretty good time, subverts the tropes and expectations of the genre, and deserves a second look (to say the least). The Wang Chung soundtrack is just the cherry on top of an already pretty damn cool movie, and I highly recommend seeking it out.

Over The Top

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Over The Top is a 1987 Canon feature starring Sylvester Stallone that I covered on the blog some time ago. I regard this as a must-watch for bad movie fans, and it encapsulates a lot of what makes late 1980s cheese-ball flicks what they are. The soundtrack for the film is no exception, featuring such acts as Asia, Sammy Hagar, Kenny Loggins, and Sylvester Stallone’s brother, Frank Stallone.

Assault on Precinct 13

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Assault on Precinct 13 is the movie that explosively introduced the world at large to John Carpenter. I personally still regard it as one of his best movies, and perhaps the most iconic siege thriller ever put to film. As with most of Carpenter’s films, it also features a synthesizer score created by the director, which is defined by simple rhythms and haunting drones. I like the score to Assault on Precinct 13 almost as much as the movie itself, and would have picked it up if it hadn’t been so expensive. There’s just no such thing as cheap John Carpenter vinyl these days.

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I <3 Gateway Film Center

Have I mentioned before how awesome Columbus, OH’s Gateway Film Center is? No? Well, they’re great. After being away from Columbus, OH for the holidays, I just want to give them a giant hug for how generally fantastic they are.

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They say that absence makes the heart grow fonder. After spending the last half of December back home in Huntsville, Alabama, I can say without any doubt that I miss the Gateway Film Center as much as I would miss, say, a superpower that suddenly went away: I could live without it and function well enough, but life isn’t nearly as fun that way.

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I’m not saying that Huntsville, AL is a culture desert or anything, but there isn’t anything there film-wise that can nearly compare to the quality of the Gateway. The opening of the beautiful Monaco Pictures a few years back was a big step up for the local theater game, but the content there isn’t any more varied than a typical multiplex, which is a damn shame. There are a few film clubs here and there, and a film co-op in the local arts center at Lowe Mill, but those only go so far. There aren’t any cult classic midnight screenings in Huntsville outside of an occasional Rocky Horror show, and the latest indie flicks certainly take their time getting there, if they come at all.  The south doesn’t have a stellar reputation about this kind of stuff, but I can’t help but feel that Huntsville would eat that kind of thing up. It is a pretty cultured city, considering where it is. Maybe it can snag an Alamo Drafthouse someday?

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Monaco Pictures: where looking at the building is usually more interesting than watching the movies on the inside

For the hell of it, here are some of the things I missed at Gateway Film Center over the 2 weeks I have been away in Huntsville, just off the top of my head:

  • Late Nite Screening of John Carpenter’s “The Thing”
  • Late Nite Screening of Stanley Kubrick’s “A Clockwork Orange”
  • Late Nite Screening of “Home Alone”
  • Late Nite Screening of “Christmas Vacation”
  • Screening of new horror movie “Late Phases”
  • Screening of “White Christmas”
  • Brunch Screening of “The Graduate”
  • Screening “The Babadook,” which has still not made it to Huntsville
  • Screening “Foxcatcher,” which has still not made it to Huntsville

Maybe my favorite part of this is that I could have seen all of these, with free popcorn to each, with my $30 monthly membership. That is just goddamn beautiful. I really want GFC to have a physical humanoid embodiment so I can express my fondness for its existence via a top-notch fist-bump.

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That is all, of course, only covering the past two weeks. I didn’t even get into the Fritz the Nite Owl screenings (which are the best things ever), Dr. Bob’s Midnight Movies, or the other amazing film stuff going on in Columbus NOT at the GFC (I missed a Bad Movie Nite at Studio 35 over those two weeks as well!). There’s also the Wexner Center available for the more “pinkies up” film things, which I should probably visit more often.

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Godzilla vs Fritz the Nite Owl

Meanwhile, Huntsville didn’t have a single notable screening while I was in town (at least that I was aware of), outside of the typical multiplex fare. I was able to at least share with Huntsville friends some things I saw at Gateway (such as the amazing, sure-to-be-cult-classic “Dead Snow 2: Red vs Dead”) that never got distribution down this way. Again, I’m not trying to single out Huntsville as being particularly poor in the film department here. Honestly, I think it is on par with (or probably somewhat better than) Anytown, USA. The point I’m primarily trying to get across is that I want to hug the Gateway Film Center and be best buddies with it forever.

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If you live in Columbus, OH and love movies, you should be supporting the Gateway Film Center and the outstanding local film community there. Most of the country has nothing that can compare to it, and the programming has been nothing but stellar since I popped into town back in July. Just, y’know, don’t take it for granted. You could be a film buff stuck in Alabama.

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