Tuesday 25 Oct 2016

The Enzian
AJ Robinson

Just north of downtown Orlando, right along Mills Avenue (also known as US 17, and US 92), there is an old theatre house called the Enzian. It is actually quite well-known among the locals; the annual Central Florida Film Festival takes place there, and many independent filmmakers (indi, indis) come there to show their movies. Some of them are quite outside what we would call the mainstream, but at least it is a place where "different" films can see the light of day.

When the place is not involved in a film festival, it is a great place to see foreign films, and indi films that have been picked up by a major distributor, but still are not quite "powerful" enough to muscle their way into the local Cineplex. To give you an example, my wife and I saw the Keri Russell film "Waitress" there. A darling little movie, Andy Griffith does a wonderful job as a crust old man who loves Keri's pies. We also saw a funny French film there, "The Valet". A classic bit of French comedy; so over the top, it was hilarious.

A great thing about the theatre is the level of comfort. It's a big place, with nice comfy chairs, tables to sit at, and a menu that allows you to have a meal with your movie. While I do find the menu a bit limited, their pizza is first rate. One or two slices are all I need, plus soda and some popcorn.

In the summer, they often run old family movies, as a way for kids to see some films they may have missed. We, my wife, daughter and I, saw "Oliver!" there, and it was great. We're old theatre people; so seeing a great musical of the past was heaven for us. Then, a couple weeks later, they were showing "Matilda", a movie my wife had no interest in seeing. As my daughter was only in the second grade, she'd never heard of it, but she was interested. So, it fell to me to take her. I'd heard a little of the movie; I knew it was based on a book by the same guy who wrote "Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory," Roald Dahl. So, I had a feeling it might have some of the same, shall we say: "different" sort of humor as that film? As it starred Danny DeVito and Rhea Perlman, I could only imagine what they would do with his story. The only thing I knew about Mara Wilson (playing the title character) was that she'd played Robin Williams' daughter, in "Mrs. Doubtfire."

As it turned out, the film had quite the following; the theatre was nearly packed! As the lights dimmed, I said a silent prayer that the level of bathroom humor would not be excessive, or embarrassing. I was quite pleased with the results. Here was the tale of a little girl, who was quite smart, and only wanted to be happy. And, she found the power and strength within herself to do just that. Yeah, it was rather silly and goofy at times, but it was still a fun film, and my daughter enjoyed herself. That day remains one of the shining memories of her childhood. Not bad for a slice of pizza, some popcorn and soda, and a simple kid's movie.

Combining the gimlet-eye, of Philip Roth, with the precisive mind of Lionel Trilling, AJ Robinson writes about what goes bump in the mind, of 21st century adults. Raised in Boston, with summers on Martha's Vineyard, AJ now lives in Florida. Most of the time he writes, but sometimes he works at Disney World to renew his fantasies and get a few dollars more. AJ writes, with insight and passion, about his family and his dog. His liberal, note the small "l," sensibilities often lead to bouts of righteous indignation, well focused and true.

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