Hollywood, Friday night. The clubgoers are out. You can spot them because the girls spent hours getting done up, and the guys are in a white button down and jeans. The crowds are looking a little casual, a little young. Things are changing, and I am getting old enough to see the contrast between then and now.
I should step aside for a hot moment and say that these are my thoughts around seeing a Star Trek double feature a couple of weeks ago. 4+6. Great options if you’re sick of seeing Wrath of Khan, and I totally am. I have previously written about similar screenings here!
We, the screening-goers, walk down Hollywood dodging tourists and the typical flavors of strange. It will get worse from here, the later the evening goes. There’s a girl in front of me, slender, with lazily braided hair and jeans that are a shade too light. She looks extraordinarily out of place here.
I’ve somehow never been to Grauman’s Egyptian Theater. I’m pretty sure the outside area is where Jon Favreau got exploded in Iron Man 3. No, never mind, it was the Chinese Theater.
There are tables in the lobby, where someone is selling posters and someone is selling autographed soundtracks. I do not know if this person is a composer. I’m sure the poster person did not make the posters.
The line for concessions is long but moves fast. Everyone wants to get into a seat. There are multiple types of ‘uniforms’ on display- fan uniforms, with Star Trek graphic shirts and Starfleet uniforms worn with cargo pants and combat boots and hot pants. Then there’s creative professional uniforms – jeans and woven belts and button down shirts and gray, close-cropped hair. There’s the requisite strange accessories every tenth person in the industry has – a wide brimmed hat, a magnificent beard, green-tinted glasses.
To my chagrin, I realize the dark jeans and shirt I’m wearing make me look more like the people on stage than the people in the audience. I glance at Andy sitting next to me. He’s wearing the same thing. We are matching a great deal lately. His girlfriend has noticed. I am not sure if I should be worried. Maybe we are just in our thirties.
The girl I saw awkwardly walking down Hollywood Boulevard? She’s here. Of course she is.
There are chairs up front. A row of them. I didn’t realize I was coming to a full on Q&A screening. In Los Angeles, these are a ritual. Here, it is not that big a deal to have a cadre of people come out at 7pm and hang out and watch a movie they made. At a festival, it’s an event. Here, it’s a weeknight.
And of course, there’s always the chance you will see something truly bizarre. Track down video of Peter Weller’s Hero Complex Q&A from a screening of Robocop in 2012. It was unhinged, one of those great bits of chaos that will never be replicated, that you couldn’t make up.
This Q&A is not so strange. And it’s well done. The moderator takes time to talk to everyone, even though the focus is on the Nicholas Meyer. Everyone is gracious and happy to tell the stories again. There is one new thread connected on stage, where director’s assistant and writer discover they fought with the studio about the same thing.
Question time. Moment of truth. What will the untrained fans in the audience do? No one asks about Star Trek Discovery, about why it might have been delayed. Nicholas Meyer clearly came from the lot. But no one asked. The questions are ones that had literally been answered minutes before, and one that was in Meyer’s book. He asks ‘did anyone read my memoir?’ This is the second time he has mentioned a book of his in the evening. I whisper to Andy that Meyer is working in Hollywood to sell books.
The questions are over and Star Trek IV starts. It’s shorter than I remember. The entirety of the above-the-line credits appear above a starfield.
It’s over. I haven’t seen it in twenty years. I loved it. It’s such a remarkably different movie from the ones around it.
Star Trek VI starts. I consider leaving, but the first thing that happens in that movie is a massive space explosion. Star Trek VI is a remarkably well made film. It’s short, but it has a lot to say. It’s short because of its economy. I think now it’s my favorite Trek film. It is not bizarrely uncomfortable in the way the Next Generation movies are. It is not driven by action like the new films are, but it is also not dull and cerebral and off-putting.
It crackles with the sort of dark character exploration and mystery I love in a story. It gets to the raw truths of humanity, our ugliness, the brutality of schemes borne of fear, but also our capacity to become better than we were.
The begin playing new documentaries. We make for the exit.
The walk back to parking is indeed stranger than the one to the theater.