Tuesday, May 23, 2006

The Flatbush Code

So dark the con of man...

So I saw the seriously silly DA VINCI CODE yesterday. The book, which I read three years ago, was never going to make a great movie--lots of scenes of two or three people in rooms, yakking it up about Magdalene theory and the sacred feminine, etc. And it did not, with Tom Hanks (cast for his reassurance factor among the story's nutters--don't take this stuff too seriously, folks!) acting as if he really wanted to go to bed but kept being jolted awake at the very point of sleep, and a few welcome giggles from Paul Bettany's impossible-to-place accent as the albino monk, Silas. More audioguide than cinema, THE DA VINCI CODE is a long, faux-serious two-and-half hours (carefully rearranged for the screen so that the Vatican and Opus Dei are no longer part of the conspiracy to keep all of womanhood down) but to be honest I have no idea how Ron Howard could have gotten more from the material, which is more compelling to read through than see enacted. It's reverent and ponderous in the kitschiest way, and a universe way from the kind of fun a summer movie like JAWS offers.

But it's not all bad if it causes us to open their eyes and take in the visual information that's all around, if we'd just look. Who knows what we might uncover? Catholic conspiracies are just the tip of the iceberg. In that vein, it was time to get out the digital camera and trot up Flatbush Ave., for a visit to the Flatbush Pavilion cineplex.

Except--it isn't a cineplex anymore. Hasn't been for two years. It closed its doors in the summer of 2004, the letters for VAN HELSING, MAN ON FIRE, and one other film still on its marquee. Catnip for the area's literary vandals, who would rearrange them into peculiar anagrams, slogans, and sayings--if you bothered to look.

Can't say I was expecting to see this, though...

The theater, I soon discovered, is now an American Apparel store. And I'm fine with that. How nice the overhanging marquee is intact, unlike, say, at the Beekman, in my old Upper East Side neighborhood. There's not a trace of all the deceased movie theaters there: The Sutton, the Crown Gotham, the 68th Street Playhouse, the 56th Street Playhouse, the Park on 86th, all gone. No markers, nothing, a potter's field of commerce. But here, in Brooklyn, proof of one's passing, with snazzy new neon underlighting as a headstone. [I imagine the name of the place will give way to the store's over time, which is understandable. Can't have everything.]

I was a little irked that the marquee letters were gone. Summer swimsuits indeed. In had not, however, made a thorough, Dan Brown-like investigation. I had jumped to conclusions. I had only to look on the other side...and there it was...

The Flatbush Code, continued, passed on to a new generation--provided that "A.A.," which it would appear has a sense of humor about its place in its neighborhhod's heritage, allows it to keep happening. What more, I wonder, will the sign tell us?

[Thanks to the folks at Brownstoner for creating a link to this item, which led to an exponential rise in my hit count. I almost hate to have to post a new entry, given how funny some of the Google-approved ad have been--step right up for DA VINCI CODE training, ministers!--but blogs, like life, go on.]

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