We had a pretty quiet weekend, given that the 4th of July is usually filled with explosions of all sizes. The drought brought about cancellation of Austin fireworks (although they did have them in some surrounding towns), and also banned the home-use ones people from the fireworks stands (for which the neighborhood cats and dogs were grateful, as well as the fire departments that are just a tad overworked these days - KUT radio reported that they only had 3 fires as opposed to the last fireworks event, New Year's Eve, when they had 50 fires.).
Aside from the riveting (but air-conditioned) job of sorting and scanning a lot of antique photos, we kept a fairly low profile. One quirky thing was we went to see Van Wilks (great show, btw!) at a music cafe, and Christopher Cross turned up to see him and was sitting at the next table over. Then, the next day, I hear him (CC) on the piped-in music at the grocery store... and the day after that at the record store, his new CD was right there in the front rack. Freaky.
On the 4th, we went to the new Violet Crown Cinema downtown (on Willie Nelson near the Austin City Limits venue). It's one of the new upstarts that wants to offer alternatives to the Alamo Drafthouse so we checked it out. First a review of that.
They have reserved seating. I've only had reserved seating at a movie once before and (amazingly) they didn't allow you to pick the seats you wanted reserved. That's BAD. The Violet Crown does let you pick your seats on a chart. That's (at least) GOOD... but, I read a negative comment on Yelp saying that they ended up having their group split up in the theater because of not purchasing all the tickets at the same time, and this was on Mother's Day!! So brace yourself for that possibility and don't let it ruin your night.
They have drinks, food snacks, the works, but no waitstaff so you are responsible for carting that stuff around yourself. The seats have a lap tray that you pull up and over from the right arm, but since the tray is not is place when you enter the theater, you have to juggle your movie gear (which could include an entree, drinks, 3D glasses, jackets, the works) until someone's hand is available to deploy your tray table. You shouldn't need to place your stuff on the floor to manage it, especially food. If you want a second beverage, you'd need to leave the theater for it. Also, when we left, we (and everyone else) bussed our own tables of glassware, etc. I suspect that the cinema would probably really like it if you just came early or stayed late and enjoyed your food and drinks in the lounge/lobby.
The chairs themselves are pretty comfy, but I didn't like the leather smell (not a favorite of vegetarians & vegans). Also, the front row is entirely extremely-comfy recliners with ottomans.
Overall, I say that this cinema is head and shoulders better than a regular chain movie house (which I can barely put up with anymore... spoiled rotten, we are), but it's no Drafthouse competitor for us. Different strokes. Try it out for yourself.
As for the movie, this is another one of Werner Herzog's wonderful documentaries. Here's the trailer:
For some intelligent descriptions of what it's about, check out the reviews of Roger Ebert and MaryAnn Johanson.
The material is well-covered and beautifully shown. In certain situations, inside the cave for example, the 3D is particularly effective and helpful. I believe that was his point in doing it. The cave is obviously a cramped area and he wants to display as much depth as possible. I agreed with its usage there. But, I have to say, that there were times that the 3D effects either had glitches or traded effect for visual quality. Ideally, I think it could have had a 3D chunk in the middle (for cave depth visualization) and then the glasses come off. I would like to see this one again (on our Hugh Jass TV) in glorious 2D.
I am also considering visiting a REAL cave, one where it's nice and cool inside.