Yesterday was hot and sunny as I stood on line outside to see a film at the Tinker Street Cinema in Woodstock, movie house of my youth. I haven’t seen a movie here since I left in 1984. It’s the same and it’s different. I don’t remember the walls being red pleated cloth, but the tin ceiling with its peeling paint is the same, although the layer coming off is unlikely one I ever sat under.
I helped upholster those seats in the 60s, when Sy Kattleson transformed a small church into a cinema. I didn’t know then that it was an indy theater. I’m not sure that label had even been invented yet. Theaters were theaters, and they played movies, and that was that. I remember the seats being black vinyl, each of us children helping an adult by providing an extra set of albeit small hands to hold the vinyl in place while staples were popped through. The seats are cloth now. More comfortable and better looking. Upscale, even.
My brother worked there as a projectionist when he was a teen. He was one of those A.V. kids who could repair a break in no time and get the movie back on the screen before the audience got restless.
I saw a lot of people I recognized from growing up in Woodstock, but no one I really knew. Just vague faces from an out-of-focus past. The movie we watched was a special advance screening of Taking Woodstock, a film by Ang Lee and James Schamus based on the memoirs of Elliot Tiber. Lee and Schamus were there for a post-film Q+A, along with Michael Lang, brainchild of the festival, his face still as mellow and cherubic as it was 40 years ago. It was a sweet film, made sweeter by this cinema and this town and these people who have come to embrace their village bearing the name of, according to Mr. Lee, “the most important cultural event of the past 1,500 years.” It opens on August 28th. Go see it. It’s the feelgood movie of the year, nothing illicit required.
1 year ago