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Dennis Perkins

Dennis Perkins is a freelance writer who lives on the West End with his lovely wife Emily, where they watch all the movies ever made. When not digging up stories about the Maine film scene, he can be found writing for the AV Club and elsewhere. The rest of the time, he's worrying about the Red Sox.

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Posted: February 6, 2017

Venue review: Low Motion

Written by: Dennis Perkins
Low Motion's screening room during "The Third Man." Photo by Skylar Thorne Kelly LOW MOTION LOCATION: 10 Exchange St., Portland TICKETS & INFO: facebook.com/kinonikmaine CAPACITY:About 80 SEATING STYLE: Folding chairs REFRESHMENTS: None PARKING:On street WHEELCHAIR ACCESS:No Low Motion, an art space/art house theater, has taken residence in the old Movies On Exchange Street space in Portland. Low Motion (along with its film archive component, Kinonik) is primarily an art space shared by a number of local artists. However, the group has refurbished the original space (and projector) from The Movies and is holding monthly film screenings during First Friday every month. There are also plans for expanded showings of art and experimental films. Keep an eye on the Facebook page (facebook.com/kinonikmaine) for details. As for the venue itself, Low Motion is The Movies, but hollowed out. The theater is basically a concrete rectangle now. Gone are the old sprung seats, along with the sloped theater floor. The bare walls alternate between exposed brick and painted or bare concrete, and the wooden floor is painted flat black, crisscrossed with paint splatters. The bathrooms, left over from The Movies, are nostalgically no-nonsense, let’s say. (Or tiny and grimy, if you like.) Seating in this multi-purpose space means folding chairs, so bringing a cushion isn’t a bad idea. Also recommended: getting there early to score one of the few well-worn easy chairs in the very back by the projection booth. Low Motion is showing film, not digital – the 16mm prints culled from Low Motion/Kinonik member Juris Ubans’ personal collection. That means “Rome, Open City” was accompanied by the ever-present whir of the old-school projector and various visual imperfections and pops on the film’s soundtrack. That’s the opposite of a complaint. There’s a reason why people hang onto their vinyl records. Sometimes, the texture is part of the experience, and seeing an old movie the way it was meant to be shown was evocative. The sound was clear, though perhaps a bit loud on the high end. Adding to the vintage vibe, “Rome, Open City” (still stirring, with fine work from the great Anna Magnani) was accompanied by a short. The whole program was introduced by a Low Motion member who spoke about the films – and the fact that two reels of the feature had been spliced together out of order somewhere in the past. (He called it “part of the limitations and glories of film,” and the audience took the brief flip-flop in stride.) There are no concessions at present, so plan accordingly, snack-wise. The price is right at $5. And these films are exactly right for the whole Low Motion vibe. You can have your cushy chain theaters with their blaring pre-show ads. Low Motion played unobtrusive acoustic music while the crowd filtered in, chatting about all the movies they used to see there and about the movie they were gathered to see. For all the creaky folding chairs and lack of amenities, my only real complaint about Low Motion is that it’s not showing great old movies more often. Reviewed by Dennis Perkins, a Portland freelance writer.

Low Motion’s screening room during “The Third Man.” Photo by Skylar Thorne Kelly

Low Motion (along with its film archive component, Kinonik) is primarily an art space shared by a number of local artists.

However, the group has refurbished the original space (and projector) from The Movies and is holding monthly film screenings during First Friday every month. There are also plans for expanded showings of art and experimental films. Keep an eye on the Facebook page (facebook.com/kinonikmaine) for details.

As for the venue itself, Low Motion is The Movies, but hollowed out. The theater is basically a concrete rectangle now. Gone are the old sprung seats, along with the sloped theater floor. The bare walls alternate between exposed brick and painted or bare concrete, and the wooden floor is painted flat black, crisscrossed with paint splatters.

The bathrooms, left over from The Movies, are nostalgically no-nonsense, let’s say. (Or tiny and grimy, if you like.)

The projection room at Low Motion. Photo by Skylar Thorne Kelly

The projection room at Low Motion. Photo by Skylar Thorne Kelly

Seating in this multi-purpose space means folding chairs, so bringing a cushion isn’t a bad idea. Also recommended: getting there early to score one of the few well-worn easy chairs in the very back by the projection booth.

Low Motion is showing film, not digital – the 16mm prints culled from Low Motion/Kinonik member Juris Ubans’ personal collection. That means “Rome, Open City” was accompanied by the ever-present whir of the old-school projector and various visual imperfections and pops on the film’s soundtrack.

That’s the opposite of a complaint. There’s a reason why people hang onto their vinyl records. Sometimes, the texture is part of the experience, and seeing an old movie the way it was meant to be shown was evocative.

The sound was clear, though perhaps a bit loud on the high end. Adding to the vintage vibe, “Rome, Open City” (still stirring, with fine work from the great Anna Magnani) was accompanied by a short.

The whole program was introduced by a Low Motion member who spoke about the films – and the fact that two reels of the feature had been spliced together out of order somewhere in the past. (He called it “part of the limitations and glories of film,” and the audience took the brief flip-flop in stride.)

There are no concessions at present, so plan accordingly, snack-wise.

The price is right at $5. And these films are exactly right for the whole Low Motion vibe.
You can have your cushy chain theaters with their blaring pre-show ads. Low Motion played unobtrusive acoustic music while the crowd filtered in, chatting about all the movies they used to see there and about the movie they were gathered to see.

For all the creaky folding chairs and lack of amenities, my only real complaint about Low Motion is that it’s not showing great old movies more often.


LOW MOTION

LOCATION: 10 Exchange St., Portland
TICKETS & INFO: facebook.com/kinonikmaine
CAPACITY: About 80
SEATING STYLE: Folding chairs
REFRESHMENTS: None
PARKING: On street
WHEELCHAIR ACCESS: No

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