Stumbling over some gala paraphernalia dropped by a Town & Country party rental truck outside the Landmark Theatres on Tuesday, I had to ask: What’s the occasion? As it turns out, it is something rather grand. According to the Landmark concierge (all the best theaters have one), the stray tables and such were bound for what he called “an installation,” opening soon, that will be devoted to the art and ambiance of The Irishman, from Martin Scorsese and Netflix.
The exhibit will be open to the public, the concierge said. Lettering on window of what used to be a home furnishing emporium adjoining the theater set visiting hours from 1-5 PM. But inside you could already see the bustle of a work-in-progress that looked worthy of the eternally promised Academy Museum, and was moving along at a considerably quicker pace.
“Antique” phone booths, newspaper boxes, a wheelchair, and scrolls of Jimmy Hoffa campaign stickers might be left over from a similar lobby display at New York’s Belasco Theater, where The Irishman opened last month. But the big red gasoline pumps and truck-stop signs suggested something more expansive, perhaps in keeping with outsized budget and length of a film that — despite efforts to grab theater dates around the world — will widely be seen via the Netflix streaming service on relatively small screens.
At the Landmark, The Irishman was showing in Theater Number Eight, which seemed to have about 200 seats, according to the ticketing chart. But, having seen much of it on Netflix a few nights earlier (in-and-out viewers are the inevitable hazard of streaming), I got an unexpected thrill at seeing the film suddenly loom large, in three dimensions, as the pending exhibit took shape.
You had to be impressed by the—dare I use the word?—theatricality of it. Through the pounding and sanding and shuffling of props, you could see a huge, sprawling, Martin Scorsese movie suddenly come to life. Nothing on the television screen came close. Even the wall-sized movie poster had more power, for me, at least, than the unspooling of a three-and-a-half hour story at home.
Of course, streaming is here to stay. Technology never goes back in the box. But that pending installation at the Landmark—an important stop for Los Angeles-based Oscar voters–appears to carry an awards-season lesson: To have a shot at the grandest prize in show business, you still have to put on a very big show.
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