A bit of Orange County history will be gone with the looming demise of the old Orange Drive-In site, which finds itself at ground zero for the mythical Platinum Triangle, a swath of Orange and Anaheim real estate adjacent to the Big A that's envisioned to become condos, stores and eateries. Of course, Orange County's first drive-in hadn't shown a movie since 1994, although it continued to host the Orange Swap Meet until this summer.
But drive-in or no, movies are still shown outdoors in Orange County—without the crappy window speakers, stale popcorn and teens starting a family in the car next to you. On the minus side, you do have to bring your own blankets, chairs and binoculars . . . for spying on the teens.
The Newport Beach Film Festival (NBFF) and Orange County Museum of Art (OCMA) have once again joined forces for the free outdoor Cinema Orange Summer Film Series that raises awareness of both organizations. Independent features, documentaries, shorts and animated films that screened at last April's 2006 Newport Beach Film Festival are shown outdoors on the relaxing OCMA grounds on the second and fourth Thursday nights of June, July and August. Thursdays feature free admission to the museum.
June 22: Writer/director Varun Khanna's American Blend, which stars Anupam Kher (Bend it Like Beckham) and Dee Wallace Stone (E.T. The Extraterrestrial), is the story of a culturally mixed, Indian and American family in LA.
July 13: Writer/director Ali Selim's immigrant love story Sweet Land, starring Alan Cumming (who also produced), Ned Beatty and Elizabeth Reaser (who won NBFF's Jury Award for Best Actress in a Feature Film for her role), contrasts a present-day conflict over a family farm to the farm's beginnings when a Norwegian immigrant brought his German refugee wife-to-be there.
July 27: Nicholas Peterson's claustrophobic Intellectual Property concerns the secrecy and madness of an inventor played by Malcolm in the Middle's Christopher Masterson.
Aug. 10: NBFF Best Cinematography Award winner and 2006 Sundance Grand Jury Prize nominee One Last Dance, which was written and directed by Max Makowski of Queer Eye for the Straight Guy fame, stars Francis Ng (Cheung fo), Lung Ti (The Legend of Drunken Master) and Harvey Keitel (too many great roles to list) in the story of a hit man trying to retire and disappear in Singapore.
Aug. 24: Works by cutting-edge animators are presented in the Animation Showcase, which features NBFF Jury Award for Best Animation winner The Fan and the Flower, the story of an ill-fated and unconsummated romance between a fan and a flower that was directed by Bill Plympton (Guard Dog), written by Dan O'Shannon (Cheers, Frasier) and narrated by Paul Giamatti (Sideways); MySpace User's Choice Award winner for April 2006 and NBFF Best Family Short Film winner Smile, a humorous toy-room adventure written and directed by Chapman University alum Chris Mais; and, finally, award-winning filmmaker Henry Selick's (The Nightmare Before Christmas, James and the Giant Peach) moon journey computer-graphic fantasy Moongirl. Other shorts from students and pros round out the bill.
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Other nonprofit arts organiza-tionspresent outdoor film screenings to raise money. Several times a year, the Fullerton Historic Theatre Foundation, which raises funds aimed at reopening the Fox Theatre, projects classic films on one of the historical venue's walls. The films are free to watch, but you are encouraged to purchase concessions that benefit the Fox (or become a foundation member). The Aug. 3 opening night film of the Fullerton Film Festival/F3, which also benefits the Fox, will screen outdoors on the theater's wall. Visit the festival's website: www.f3filmfestival.com or call the Fullerton Historic Theatre Foundation at (714) 870-0069 for more information.
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A similar fund-raising strategy is being employed by those involved in turning the old Balboa movie house into the Balboa Performing Arts Theater. Their free Family Movie Nite series kicks off with the showing of a surf flick on a giant screen erected in Peninsula Park next to the Balboa Pier in Newport Beach.
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June 29: Sponsored by Quiksilver, the screening of Letting Go, which features surf legend Kelly Slater, raises funds through the sale of raffle tickets for chances to win two round-trip airline tickets to Hawaii courtesy of Aloha Airlines, a Quiksilver surfboard and more. Quiksilver athletes are also scheduled to mingle with fans and sign posters. You're free to picnic beginning at 6:30 p.m., with the movie following at 8. Burgers, kettle corn, chips, candy and water are sold with all proceeds benefiting the theater.
July 20: Slater also shows up in Stacy Peralta's Riding Giants(which Peralta co-wrote with writer/editor/filmmaker/lifesaver/pal of Weekly Sam George). It's among the best documentaries that has been made about surfers who challenge the planet's monster waves. Laird Hamilton's ride is not to be missed.
Aug. 24: First Chapterwith Dane Reynolds, a 20-year-old from Ventura who is often regarded as the most exciting young surfer in the world. The film, which follows Reynolds to seldom-surfed spots all over the map, makes its world premiere at Quiksilver's Huntington Beach headquarters on July 28, during the US Open of Surfing. For more information on the Balboa series, call (949) 673-0895.
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For years, movie nights have been among the most popular attractions at Newport Dunes resort, which is kind of like a KOA campground for those who can afford better than a KOA campground. These Friday and Saturday night screenings are free and open to the public, although it does cost $10 to park a vehicle at the Dunes. And it costs more to camp at the Dunes. How much more? How the hell do we know? Do we look like we can afford something more than a KOA campground?June 23: Disney's 1963 animated non-classic The Sword in the Stone, which travels back to medieval times (the period, not the Buena Park chow house) to recount the tale of young Arthur and wizard Merlin. June 24: Local boy Will Ferrell stars in Elf, the popular holiday kiddie flick about one of Santa's helpers who is literally too big for his britches (although he's the last to know). June 30: Disney's popular animated movie Lilo & Stitch, which is every bit as colorful as its Hawaiian setting—and totally forgettable beyond that. July 1: The gentle family film Secondhand Lions, starring Robert Duvall, Michael Caine and the spooky kid from Sixth Sense. July 7: Madagascar, the animated animal tale about a zoo jail break by some detainees—including Ben Stiller and Chris Rock—looking for a missing friend (me, when this thing hit theaters). July 8: Newport Beach transplant Nic Cage stars in National Treasure, which made not nearly as much as the film version of the story Treasure ripped off, The Da Vinci Code. July 14: Robots, which looks very cool on an HD television, though you must first turn the sound off lest you be exposed to Robin Williams. July 15: The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, which some deemed excellent and others (like me) never saw. July 21: Chicken Little, whose commercials with the Scrubs kid were enough to keep me away. July 22: Star Wars: Attack of the Clones, which I'll see once I see the rest of the fourth one some day. July 28: The very recommended Holes, which was a great kids' book and not-too-bad film. July 29: The very, very recommended Finding Neverland, which got overly maudlin, true, but I'd watch Johnny Depp and Kate Winslet hang wallpaper. Newport Dunes is at 1131 Back Bay Dr., Newport Beach, (949) 729-DUNE.