Notes From The Program Director | Week of August 18th, 2023

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Notes From The Program Director

Week of August 18th, 2023

Melissa Tamminga

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Hello, friends!

Barbie and Oppenheimer continue for another week here at the Pickford -- the Barbenheimer madness has legs! -- and it’s a reminder of how good it feels to have not one, but two hits on our hands. At the Pickford, we rely on a couple of big movies every year in order to sustain our arthouse and indie roots: the really big films enable us to champion those “smaller” films that will never make it big in the commercial cinema space but are often the most artistically interesting films of the year, films like EO, The Quiet Girl, Eight Mountains, Joyland, Broker, Corsage, or Showing Up. Hits like Barbenheimer also enable us to continue to showcase very special series films, like the Women’s History Month series from this past March, where we can celebrate the underseen but brilliant work of filmmakers like Kinuyo Tanaka. So even if you’ve seen Barbie and Oppenheimer--perhaps even seen them a couple of times each like me--and you’re ready for something new, hang tight and celebrate with us the gift of these wonderfully popular (and also very good!) films, particularly in the midst of the writers’ strike in Hollywood, where a halt has been put on the production of new films and we may see some slim months ahead in the next year or so. In the short term, new fare will be here before we know it -- I’ve got a whole line of wonderful films ready to go on our screens -- so it’s an ongoing delight for now to be able to enjoy the multi-layered bounty that is Barbieand Oppenheimer.  

Finally, in recognition of the passing of the great Paul Reubens and in honor of his life and most iconic character, we’re playing Pee-wee’s Big Adventure, a film that felt practically ubiquitous in my own Gen X childhood -- a viral phenomenon before internet virality was a thing -- and a film that many critics simply did not know what to do with at the time. It’s hard not to giggle at some of the indignant and outraged reviews from 1985: Vincent Canby for the New York Times wrote, “Pee-wee’s Big Adventure is the most barren comedy I’ve seen in years, maybe ever”; the Timereviewer wrote, “The movie could induce terminal boredom in adults and rot the minds of the young”; and Gene Siskel for the Chicago Tribune wrote, “I wanted to leave Pee-Wee`s Big Adventure after five minutes. I stayed, much to my pain, for all 92. I think I’ll go see I Spit on Your Grave to try to cheer up” and gave the film “no stars.” But audiences didn’t pay these sour critics any mind, and for the critics who did get the film and were able to get on its zany and wonderful wavelength, reading back on their often incredulous pleasure in the film is a delight all its own. Stephanie Zacharek for Salon wrote, “Everything about Pee-wee’s Big Adventure, from its toy-box colors to its superb, hyper-animated Danny Elfman score to the butch-waxed hairdo and wooden-puppet walk of its star and mastermind, Pee-wee Herman, is pure pleasure”; the TV Guide reviewer wrote, “Inspired lunacy, Pee-wee’s Big Adventure is one of the most inventive films in recent memory”; Jay Carr for the Boston Globe wrote, “Pee-wee’s Big Adventure is a shrewdly observed, deftly executed looney tune”; and Michael Wilmingon for the LA Times wrote, “The wrong crowd will find these antics infantile and offensive. The right one will have a howling good time.”   And I suspect that you all, as discerning Pickford patrons, are exactly the right crowd and that we shall hear howls coming from the theater this coming Sunday at 12:15 pm.  R.I.P. Paul Reubens. You were one of a kind. 

 See you at the movies, friends! 


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We open 30 minutes before the first showtime of the day.
All theaters are ADA accessible with wheelchair seating.
Closed captioning and assistive listening devices are available at the box office.

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Pickford Film Center

1318 Bay St
Bellingham, WA 98225

Office | 360.647.1300
Movie line | 360.738.0735

Mailing Address
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Bellingham, WA 98227