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Film | by Shane “Do-Dee-Do-Doot-Do” Hnetka

In a year when movie theatres are taking a beating from declining ticket sales, theatre chains have tried new tricks to bring in audiences. Cineplex added comfy lounge chairs to many of its theatres, and now Regina’s (formerly named) Galaxy Theatre is getting an IMAX screen. Which means Regina will soon have two IMAX theatres, while Saskatoon remains at… zero. Weird. Better luck next time, Toontown.

Remember The Alamo

One of the coolest movie theatre chains going has to be the Alamo Drafthouse, based out of Austin, Texas. The Drafthouse reveres cinema and as a consequence has a very strict etiquette policy. Children under two aren’t allowed; neither are unaccompanied minors. There’s no talking, texting or arriving late to a movie — and they’ll kick you out if you break the rules. In 2011, a customer left a raging phone message after getting booted for repeatedly texting. The Drafthouse stood by its policy. Founder Tim League struck back: “If you can’t change your behaviour and be quiet (or unilluminated) during a movie, then we don’t want you at our venue,” he wrote on the company’s website. The chain also played the customer’s rant as a PSA before movies.

The Alamo Drafthouse, which celebrates its 20th anniversary this year, might be most famous for its special screenings. The chain’s had women-only screenings of Wonder Woman (the male outrage was hilarious), and on Sept. 1 shows Les Blank’s documentary Garlic is as Good as Ten Mothers with two electric fans blowing the aroma of fresh-roasted garlic towards the audience throughout the movie. The ticket package includes a four-dish garlic meal.

Another fun-sounding event: a clowns-only screening of Stephen King’s It. That’s right — if you want to see It you have to come dressed as a clown. They’ll even have face painters available for make-up touch-ups. Even cooler: on Sept. 14, the Drafthouse screens Evil Dead 2 in the woods, with Bruce Campbell in attendance. Man, that sounds groovy.

We Are Not Alone

Steven Spielberg  had been trying to get Close Encounters of the Third Kind made since 1973  but didn’t get the go-ahead until the huge success of Jaws. Close Encounters is a unique special-effects blockbuster. It follows everyman Roy Neary (Richard Dreyfuss), who’s obsessed with an image he’s had in his head since an encounter with a U.F.O. Meanwhile, the government has people looking into a rise in U.F.O. incidents around the globe. This all leads to an extremely close encounter at Devil’s Tower.

They don’t make movies like Close Encounters anymore. There’s no bad guy, no battles, no explosions. The special effects create wonder and amazement rather than an adrenaline rush. There’s some suspense — at one point, the aliens launch a home invasion that gets pretty tense — but the spacemen aren’t evil, just curious.

Close Encounters of the Third Kind was overshadowed by Star Wars when it came out in 1977, but it stands up as one of Spielberg’s best films — arguably THE best. Its return to screens is welcome.

Shane Hnetka is a made-in-Saskatchewan film and comic book nerd.