If we’d dropped out of a space capsule, we would have known we’d landed in Santa Cruz. It was Saturday, Feb. 16, and the early showing of Michael Clayton at the Nick was full of the kinds of people who like to keep up on things–the kind of people, say, who missed a little-noticed movie the first time around but want to see it now that it’s an Oscar contender several times over (Picture, Actor, Supporting Actor, Supporting Actress, Music, Screenplay). A discerning crowd, let’s call it. And an opinionated one.
As the trailers progressed, there was one that had us all puzzled. It looked like no film you’d ever seen before — a series of serene images on beaches, in cities, and the words “Where will your journey take you?” You could almost feel the mental gears whirring all around. And then the logo came up: it was Louis Vuitton’s new 90-second cinema ad. The theater erupted into howls of indignation. A luggage ad? In the theater? Mark one noisy Santa Cruz vote against an unwelcome new frontier in advertising.
The next trailer was for Taxi to the Dark Side, a documentary about US torture in Iraq, Guantanamo and Afghanistan. Once again the audience sat spellbound until the camera flashed on President Bush. Once again a cry of disapproval went up, along with the more standard boos and hisses. Mark one noisy Santa Cruz vote against the waterboard-approvin, dividin’-not-unitin’ Decider.
Three’s a charm: about a half-hour into Michael Clayton, following one character’s worried comment about a nut job roaming the streets (or something to that effect), the camera showed the mentally unstable character in question walking in a crowd, a beatific expression on his face. It probably wouldn’t be a laugh line in most places, but here it got a roar of spontaneous approval. Mark one noisy Santa Cruz vote in favor of inhabiting your own universe, very happily.