Movies have always been part of Jonathan Moor and Taylor Franchi’s lives.
Growing up, he worked at Bowtie Cinemas just across the Norwalk line. Before they met, she went to movies by herself. As a couple, that’s one of their favorite activities.
Last night — to celebrate Taylor’s upcoming birthday — Jonathan took her to Bowtie. The movie was “Uncharted.”
They picked up their popcorn and drinks, and settled in. During the last trailer, Jonathan left for a couple of minutes.
When he returned — holding flowers — another video was playing. This one was all about them.
Taylor Franchi and Jonathan Moor, from the video.
To the soundtrack of James Arthur’s “Say You Won’t Let Go” — a song they heard on their first date, and which includes the line “I want to live with you” — photos of Jonathan and Taylor’s time together filled the screen.
At the end it showed four simple words: “Will you marry me?”
The final scene of the video.
Jonathan had planned his proposal perfectly. He’d enlisted the help of the Bowtie managers, who he knew from his time working there. They made sure no one else was in the theater. They kept the flowers Jonathan brought over earlier.
And of course, Jonathan created his video with love and care.
The Bow Tie “Ultimate Royale” multiplex on US 1 — just over the border in Norwalk — reopens tomorrow. Features include “Monster Hunter,” “The Croods,” “Wild Mountain Thyme,” “Elf,” The Midnight Sky,” “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation,” “Honest Thief” and “Tenet.”
The experience will be different than in pre-pandemic days. For example:
100% reserved seating …
… but only 50% capacity
A temporary waiver of all advanced ticketing fees
Selling seats in an alternating pattern so each customer has an empty seat on either side
Contact-free purchasing of tickets and concession items
Mandatory face masks (unless eating or drinking at your seat)
Plexiglas barriers at box office and concession
Limitations on restroom and lobby capacities.
You can also book a private movie party” for up to 20 guests.
No word on whether you will still pay $22 for a 10-pound box of Jujubes. (Hat tip: Mark Mathias)
Christmas caroling — remember that?! — returns to the Unitarian Church this Saturday (December 19, 3 to 4 p.m.).
It’s COVID-conscious of course: in the large parking lot, with masks and social distancing required.
In Unitarian spirit, there will be a mix of secular songs and Christmas carols. Everyone will use phone flashlights to sing “Silent Night” at dusk. Feel free to bring an instrument too!.
In the holiday spirit, if you want to join but don’t want to actually join people, email email@example.com for the Zoom link.
Not quite the Unitarian Church parking lot, but you get the idea.
Chloe Hackett is a Staples High School sophomore. She’s an athlete too.
As she and her family searched for a way to help others during the pandemic, they found Leveling the Playing Field. The non-profit seemed perfect.
It collect new and gently used sports and playground equipment, then distribute it to needy youth organizations. And it was founded by Syracuse University alums — Chloe’s parents’ alma mater.
“My sisters and I play field hockey, ice hockey and softball year round,” Chloe says.
“Sports have taught us teamwork, discipline, commitment, determination and how to compete. They’ve given us an after-school outlet, and the opportunity to make friends. We are fortunate to live in an amazing town with so many opportunities, access to a wide variety of sports and the equipment to play them.”
This weekend (Saturday and Sunday, December 19-20, 10 a.m. to noon, at The Granola Bar), the Hacketts are collecting donations.
Cleats, field hockey sticks, lacrosse equipment, bats, hockey skates, footballs, softball gloves — it will all make a difference. Click here for a full list of acceptable and non-acceptable items.
If you can’t make it this weekend, the Hacketts have your back. They’ll leave a box in front of the restaurant, and make pickups daily.
The Hackett girls already have donations! From left: Alex, Chloe, Daisy. (Photo/Julianne Mulvey)
Melissa & Doug — the international toy company, and the Westport couple named the Bernsteins behind it — keep a low profile.
The company (and the couple) do many good things, out of the limelight. Here’s one that deserves notice.
They’ve partnered with the Whole Foods, selling toys in stores and online. Between December 20-24, 1% of sales at Whole Foods will support Whole Kids Foundation’s child nutrition programs.
Stock up on good food and great toys. And help children eat well. Melissa & Doug — and kids you’ll never know — will thank you. (Hat tip: Johanna Rossi)
Westport abstract expressionist painter David Stephen Johnson made his European debut earlier this year.
To share in his good fortune — and do his part to help local first responders — from now through mid-January, he is donating all proceeds of his Works on Paper sales to Norwalk Hospital.
Click here for some of the Works on Paper that make original, thoughtful holiday gifts (and support the community).
More of Johnson’s pieces can be viewed at his Compo Beach studio, by (socially distanced) appointment. Email firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 970- 376-5058.
And finally … on this date in 1865, Franz Schubert’s “Unfinished Symphony” premiered. The composer died nearly 40 years earlier, from either typhoid fever or syphilis. Just 31, he had composed more than 600 vocal works, 7 complete symphonies, sacred music and operas, along with piano and chamber music.
It’s tough owning a movie theater. Among many other pressures, you depend on brief windows of time for nearly all your revenue.
For patrons, time is tight too. Besides evenings, it’s hard to sneak away for a couple of hours to see a film.
Which is why theater owners and movie-goers alike love the Morning Movie Club.
The premise is simple: Organizers rent an entire theater. Once a month from October through May, promptly at 10 a.m., club members have their choice of any film being shown on that theater’s screens. There are no previews; you’re in and out. As the credits roll you head back to carpooling, the office or your other daily responsibilities.
The Morning Movie Club came to Fairfield County thanks to Kerry Anderson and Michelle Howe. The women heard of a similar effort in New Jersey, and figured it would be perfect for this area.
Kerry Anderson (left) and Michelle Howe.
Kerry’s background is in banking; she also served as director of Swim Across America. When her first son was born she stepped out of the workforce. But she wanted to engage her mind, in the limited hours she had.
Kerry and Michelle proposed a Morning Movie Club to their local Bowtie theater in Greenwich. That’s the same company the New Jersey club used; the owners knew the formula worked.
The Greenwich Bowtie has 3 screens. It’s an “arts theater,” so the films are targeted to adults.
Last year, the Morning Movie Club expanded to a 4-screen Wilton Bowtie. It’s a “family theater,” meaning many of the offerings were “kid-friendly.”
Too kid-friendly, in fact. Which is why this year, the Morning Movie Club has moved its Wilton chapter to Westport.
Well, Kerry calls it Westport. They use the Bowtie in Norwalk — just over the border on Route 1, which in our neighboring town is called Westport Avenue.
It’s a great venue. There are 6 screens; the seats are very comfortable, and there’s a full concession stand. (Including a bar. Kerry notes drily, “I hope our folks don’t use it at 10 a.m.”)
It really is a “club.” A yearly membership costs $100, for 8 movies. Non-members are not allowed in to the morning movies.
Organizers also partner with local businesses, offering amenities like discounts. In Westport that includes Shoes & More, Aux Delices and Green & Tonic.
A photo from the Morning Movie Club website.
Morning Movie Club members include stay-at-home parents, and those with paying jobs. There are also retirees, like Kerry’s father. He’s in his 80s; he doesn’t like to drive at night, so the show time — and lunch after, with friends — is perfect.
“The idea is so simple. You slow down, and take 2 hours for yourself, to see a film,” Kerry says. “You may be better in the office, or as a mom, afterward.”
It’s all pretty clear. In fact, the only question mark is which movie to see.
Theater managers make purchasing decisions on Mondays, Kerry says. As soon as they do, she and Michelle send an email with that month’s options to all members. They add preview links to all films on that theater’s screens.
Which is great. Because there are no previews at the morning movies themselves.
That in itself is worth the subscription price.
(For more information on the Morning Movie Club, click here.)
After viewing a preview of his latest film — a scathing comparison of America to the rest of the world in areas like education, prisons, the workforce and women’s rights — followed by words from the filmmaker himself, a Westporter working on Wall Street said, “I feel like quitting my job tomorrow, and really doing something with my life.”
He probably won’t carry through with that pledge. But Moore certainly has made his mark.
An invitation-only audience last night at Bowtie Cinemas just over the Norwalk line was told before a screening of “Where To Invade Next“: “You may not agree with everything Michael Moore says. But left, right or center, you should listen to him.”
And listen they did. The film — which opens tomorrow in New York and Los Angeles for a limited, we’re-doing-this-to-qualify-for-the-Oscars run, then will be released nationally in February after the “Star Wars” hype dies down — is bound to stir controversy.
Michael Moore’s bus was parked outside Bowtie Cinemas yesterday. The American flag in the background is completely coincidental. (Photo/Susan Iseman)
Moore travels around Europe (and Tunisia), interviewing everyone from an Italian couple with insane amounts of government-mandated vacation time and a French chef in charge of serving elegant food to elementary school students, to Norwegian prisoners (who have keys to their private rooms, and access to knives) and Portuguese police officers (who do not arrest anyone for drug possession).
Moore’s point is that many other countries work far better than ours. ( Example: The US and Papua New Guinea are the only 2 in the world without guaranteed maternity leave for new mothers.)
But — and this is a point he made in both the movie, and a Q-and-A with audience members afterward — every idea he presented originated in the US. From the outstanding Finnish education system (built on the American model) and Norway’s penal system (honoring our prohibition against “cruel and unusual punishment”) to Iceland’s pioneering role of women in government and business (jump-started by our 1970s-era women’s lib movement), the rest of the world has followed our lead.
We’ve just lagged behind ourselves.
Michael Moore at Vespa restaurant last night.
A Westporter asked Moore — who has made hard-hitting documentaries like “Fahrenheit 9/11” (about George W. Bush’s war on terror), “Bowling for Columbine” (gun control) and “Roger and Me” (globalization) –“What drives you?”
“I believe we’re better than what we are now,” he said. “We can do better. I love this country. I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else. I think we can figure this out.”
“Where To Invade Next” will undoubtedly create controversy — perhaps more than any other Moore film. His comments to last night’s audience may not be heard nationwide, as theatergoers argue over what he’s included — and left out. But the power of film is enormous.
Mark Shapiro — an executive producer of the film, IMG’s chief content officer and a Westporter — arranged for the screening, and a reception with Moore afterward at Vespa restaurant.
On Sunday night, Shapiro was in Las Vegas — specifically, in the control booth as Steve Harvey completely screwed up the Miss Universe pageant.
Moore’s event, he acknowledged, was a lot more meaningful.
Particularly if that Wall Street guy I talked to follows through on his promise.
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