Boulder Outdoor Cinema may have temporarily moved indoors, but that doesn't mean the unsympathetic winter chill is keeping audiences from enjoying some heart-warming cinema. After a killer lineup of holiday films like Elf, A Christmas Story and National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation, this free-of-charge series will round out its holiday theme on Monday, December 30 with the British rom-com Love Actually at the Bohemian Biergarten. In anticipation for of this universally beloved story of love's teeter-totter, we chatted with Boulder Outdoor Cinema co-founders Liz Marsh and Jeanine Fritz, discussing ensemble casts, film nerds and why Liam Neeson breaks our hearts.
Westword: Now that the winter months are upon us, do you think your film series -- which is traditionally outdoor -- is just as popular, or even more?
Jeanine Fritz: That's a tough thing to quantify, since the experience we're trying to create in each place is so different. In the summer, we focus our programming on things that tonally match the venue: We're outside, it's warm, the crowds are massive, the screen is massive -- everything is big. What we're doing over the winter with the Bohemian Biergarten is a whole other sack of muffins: It's cold outside, the back room is warm and dark and intimate, folks are having sit-down dinners -- we're trying to create a totally different feeling, one of snuggly, wintertime, dinner-and-a-movie-type fun -- our programming reflects that. Are we more popular? Maybe. But we're film-nerds and are more focused on whether or not we've created a perfect movie night.
I'm a fan of all the movies you've shown over the season, but considering how modern most of them are, do you think they appeal to a wide audience?
Fritz: One of our favorite things about programming for the film series is that we don't feel forced to appeal to a wide audience -- the room only holds about a hundred people. And the modernity of the films is really a matter of opinion -- Christmas Vacation was released in 1989, making it older than some of the folks who came to watch it. And people were worried when we chose the 1979 Steve Martin film, The Jerk, but it was really well attended. We're not opposed to showing even older films, but we're not focused on that as a goal necessarily.
What do you think it is about Love Actually that touches such a wide audience, considering a lot of the characters are in extraordinary circumstances: rock star, porn actor, prime minister, etc.?
Liz Marsh: The characters being in extraordinary circumstances is what makes it cinematic. It makes it a fantasy and an escape. What brings people into it and connects them to the story are the characters' very ordinary emotional arcs. The point of the film is that love drives us in all we do.
We have all been in love and been heartbroken so we see ourselves in each character. We have all felt the desperation of fleeting love, so we root for the kids to meet in the airport, we pine for Colin Firth to learn Portuguese to win us over, our hearts break with widower Liam Neeson. The extraordinary characters all experience love in a primal, human way with which the viewer can empathize. In the film, and in life, love rises above all other differences -- language barriers, popularity, job status.
Love Actually has inspired many similar ensemble cast comedies that try to duplicate the magic of the hit film, but they often fall short -- why do you think it's such a difficult recipe to capture?
Marsh: In Love Actually there are 24 main characters and at least ten different story lines. It's a daunting task to get your audience to care about that many different people and different circumstances. More is not always better and other films that try to closely replicate the spectacle of Love Actually often do it at the expense of an emotional connection to the characters.
Follow me on Twitter at @JosiahMHesse.
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