Inside D.C. entertainment

The most comprehensive mid-summer list of free outdoor movies, ever

August 10, 2010 - 01:05 PM
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the blind side
"By sitting on the curb in my white dress, I'm proving I understand you."

There’s a scene early in The Blind Side where Sandra Bullock’s character walks onto a football field where—

Gotcha! I’ve never actually seen that movie, and I don’t expect I ever will. But if I wanted to, I’d have little difficulty finding a free screening: No less than seven — almost one-third of all D.C.-area outdoor film series I found  — feature The Blind Side on their bills. It’s a simple equation, one you can't really fault series organizers for heeding: Sandra Bullock + white guilt + American football + Oscar statuette = ATTENDANCE.

Ah, but the summer’s halfway over — yes, only halfway — and yet, some of D.C.'s best and biggest outdoor film series are already over. NoMa Summer Screen, despite its middle name, wrapped up its series two weeks ago. Screen on the Green came and went in a flash (of lightning). And the Capital Riverfront’s UltimateUnderdog Movie Nights wrapped up last week with Rocky, cinema’s second-greatest sports underdog story of all time — after Air Bud, of course, whose protagonist has the distinct advantage of being an actual dog.

Please, someone explain this to me. (Not Air Bud  — that would take hours  — but why these series ended so soon.) I know that many of our politically inclined residents vacation in August, rendering it the deadest of months. But that only makes free screenings more essential for those of us who chose — smartly, I might add — not to join the sunburned hordes in Ocean City. Of course, not every outdoor series packed up its projectors early. A nostalgic tour of the ’90s continues in Rosslyn, and the more predictable, family-friendly lineups at Maryland’s National Harbor and Columbia Lakefront run well into September. The Comcast festival in Rockville, meanwhile, starts Friday with eight straight nights of films, beginning with you-know-what.

In D.C. proper, meanwhile, it’s slim pickings. The most interesting remaining option, by far, is the 5-Eye Asian Film Series in Mount Vernon Triangle, which kicked off with Hero, the big-budget Chinese war epic, followed by Cape No. 7, a small romantic comedy and a sleeper hit in Taiwan. The final three screenings are of a South Korean thriller, a Kurosawa omnibus and an Indian comedy. It’s surprising enough to see an outdoor series with an ‘R’-rated film (The Host), but foreign films — those not named Amelie or Life is Beautiful, that is — are almost unheard of. Bill McLeod, executive director of the Mount Vernon Triangle CID, says that while he loves foreign films, the decision was more practical: “We like the idea of foreign films because they all have subtitles, so it meets the ADA requirement.” And Asian films, he added, were the obvious choice, given the neighborhood’s proximity to Chinatown.

As for that ‘R’ rating — for which I applaud him — he said, “We think it’s for violence, not so much for sex.” Not that it matters. I’ve been inside several of those mammoth apartment complexes in the MVT (coin it!) and I’ve never seen so much as a teenager, let alone a child. “We see a lot of young professionals and some empty-nesters,” McLeod confirms. In that case, next summer they should go all out and screen Machete.

Enough talk! The people demand lists! Keep this one handy — not because I’m vain, though I am, but because most of these films aren’t in our events database yet. Which reminds me: Are you looking for the internship of a lifetime? I can make your dreams of a career in data entry come true. INQUIRE WITHIN.



Movie Nights in the Heights
Tubman Elementary Field, Columbia Heights
Aug. 12, 8 p.m.: Shrek

Films on the Vern: From Page to Screen
George Washington University’s Mount Vernon campus (specific locations in parentheses). Rain location: Eckles Library Auditorium.
Both films begin at 8:30 p.m.
Aug. 11: The Kite Runner (on the campus quad)
Aug. 18: Where the Wild Things Are (at the outdoor pool)

U Street Movie Series: Harrison Field Under the Stars
Harrison Field on V St. NW b/w 13th and 14th streets
Both films begin at 8:30 p.m.
Aug. 10 (rain date Aug. 17): The Soloist
Sept. 14 (rain date Sept. 21): Soul Power and Duke Ellington’s Washington

Pix on the Plaza (pdf)
Woodrow Wilson Plaza
13th St. and Pennsylvania Ave.
Aug. 19, 9 p.m.: Beyond Ipanema (with “Latin DJ and Conga” from 6-9 p.m.)
Sept. 9, 8 p.m.: Shine a Light
Sept. 23, 8 p.m.: Footloose (with karaoke from 6-8 p.m.)

Stead Park Outdoor Movie Nights
Stead Park Field, 1625 P St. NW.
Aug. 24, 9 p.m.: My Big Fat Greek Wedding

5-Eye Asian Film Series
5th & Eye Street NW, Mount Vernon Triangle
All films begin at 8:30 p.m. Pre-show performances begin at 8:00 p.m.
Aug. 15: The Host
Aug. 22: Kurosawa’s Dreams
Aug. 29: Munnabhai Meets Gandhi

Road Trip
Lamont Street Park
Lamont St. NW and Mt. Pleasant St. NW, Mount Pleasant
Both films start at sundown.
Aug. 28 (rain date Aug. 29): Up! (with Spanish subtitles)
Sept. 11 (rain date Sept. 12): Salt of the Earth (with English subtitles)



I Love the ’90s Rosslyn Outdoor Film Festival
Gateway Park at Lee Highway near Key Bridge, Arlington
All films begin around 8 p.m.
Aug 13: Airheads
Aug 20: The Wedding Singer
Aug 27: The Birdcage
Sept 03: Billy Madison

Starlight Cinema Drive-In Movies (pdf)
5860 Trinity Parkway, Centreville
Music, food and children’s activities began at 6 p.m. Films begin at sundown.
Aug. 14: Fantastic Mr. Fox
Aug. 21: Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian
Aug. 28: Aliens in the Attic

Crystal Screen Summer Film Series
18th and Bell St., Crystal City, Arlington
Aug. 16, 8 p.m.: Star Trek (2009)

Cinema Del Ray
Mount Vernon Recreation Center
2701 Commonwealth Ave., Alexandria
“Fun” starts at 7 p.m., the film at dusk.
Aug. 21: Monsters vs. Aliens

Flicks in the Sticks
The Broadlands Nature Center
21907 Claiborne Pkwy, Ashburn
Both films begin around 8:30 p.m.
Aug. 21: The Princess And The Frog
Sept. 11: G-Force

Summer Nights in the City
North Street, Old Town Fairfax
Music starts at 7 p.m., movie at 8 p.m.
Aug. 14: Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian



Movies on the Potomac
National Harbor Plaza, Prince George's County
All films begin after sunset.
Aug 15: Batman
Aug 22: Incredible Hulk
Aug 29: Spider-Man
Sept 05: The Land Before Time
Sept 12: Raiders of the Lost Ark
Sept 19: E.T.
Sept 26: Jurassic Park

Montgomery County Agricultural Fair
16 Chestnut St., Gaithersburg
All films begin around 8 p.m.
Aug. 13: Where the Wild Things Are
Aug. 14: Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince
Aug. 15: The Blind Side
Aug. 16: Up
Aug. 17: Planet 51
Aug. 18: Astro Boy
Aug. 19: Alice in Wonderland
Aug. 20: The Princess and the Frog
Aug. 21: Twilight Saga: New Moon

Comcast Outdoor Film Festival
The Universities at Shady Grove, Rockville
All films begin at 8:15 p.m.
Aug. 13: The Blind Side
Aug. 14: Twilight: New Moon
Aug. 15: Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen
Aug. 16: Jerry McGuire
Aug. 17: Valentine’s Day
Aug. 18: Up in the Air
Aug. 19: Julie & Julia
Aug. 20: Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs

Columbia Lakefront Festival
Lakefront Stage at the Columbia Town Center Lakefront off Little Patuxent Pkwy
All films begin around 8:30 p.m.
Aug. 13: Hairspray: The Musical
Aug. 16: How to Train Your Dragon
Aug. 20: Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl
Aug. 23: Monsters vs. Aliens
Aug. 27: Bedtime Stories
Aug. 28: Enchanted
Sept. 3: Up!
Sept. 4: The Princess and the Frog
Sept. 5: Wall-E
Sept. 10: Alice in Wonderland (2010)
Sept. 11: Iron Man
Sept. 17: Toy Story
Sept. 18: Toy Story 2

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