A few weeks ago, my friend, Heather Harmon, invited me to join her for a screening of All the Beauty and the Bloodshed, Laura Poitras’s critically acclaimed documentary—winner of the ‘Golden Lion’ at the 79th Venice Film Festival and ‘Best Documentary Feature’ at the 38th Film Independent Spirit Awards, the film received a nomination in the category of ‘Best Documentary Feature’ at the 95th Academy Awards—about the life and career of photographer Nan Goldin, and her unyielding quest to hold the Sackler family (owners Purdue Pharma, the developer of OxyContin) accountable for their role in the opioid epidemic, by having the Sackler name physically removed from the museums and institutions to which the family has donated many millions of dollars over the decades (think: Paris’s Musée de Louvre; London’s Victoria & Albert Museum, National Portrait Gallery, Tate Modern, and Serpentine Galleries; and New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art and Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum).

I was pretty blown away by the documentary, and gained a renewed respect for both Goldin and her oeuvre.  What really blew me away, though, was the venue that was screening the film: the Beverly Theater.

Located in Downtown Las Vegas—on the northeast corner of South 6th Street and East Bonneville Avenue, next to the Writer’s Block—and conceived and developed by The Rogers Foundation, the Beverly Theater [named for the indefatigable philanthropic visionary, Beverly Rogers, and hereafter referred to as “The Bev”] identifies as a nonprofit venue built “to stage uncommon cinematic, literary, and live experiences,” while imbuing DTLV with “cinematic connectivity, novel collaborations, live happenings, cultural portals, and a zest for independent spirits.”  Perhaps most impressively, in the few weeks since its opening, the Bev has clearly demonstrated that it possesses the wherewithal to do exactly that. *

A two-story venue measuring 14,306 square feet, the Bev features three areas: the main theater and the courtyard on the ground floor (separated by a 5,000-pound, motorized, retractable acoustic door), and Segue (a balconied jazz terrace-cum-literary event space), on the second.  There’s an on-site box office; a cleverly curated retail/concession alcove purveying popcorn, classic movie candy favorites, retro nostalgia candy, classic and retro sodas, and alcoholic beverages including local beer, domestic beer, wine, and specialty canned cocktails; and a tricked-out green room (it’s actually green!) that’s been dubbed The Teddy (after Beverly Rogers’s beloved pet Chow Chow).

The main theater features a 360-square-foot screen that has been coupled with a motorized cinema masking system which was designed to maximize viewing angles from every seat in the house; nearly 150 of them, in ten raked rows, on a platform that, with merely the push of a button, retracts against the back wall, thereby converting the space into a multi-purpose black box theater with standing room capacity.

And then there’s the sound system, a custom Constellation platform (the same sort used by Cirque du Soleil’s resident shows), à la Berkeley, CA-based Meyer Sound Laboratories that integrates a variety of high-quality mics and speakers and processors and algorithms and enough techy gobbledygook to make your brain hurt, but which basically means that The Bev’s Founding Creative Director and Chief Experience Officer, Kip Kelly, can transform the venue’s acoustics by simply tapping a button on his mobile device (there’s an app for that!), whether it’s to let a speaker or vocalist perform sans mic or to allow for a particularly robust surround cinema experience. 

I witnessed this audio magic, firsthand, this past weekend, when Heather and I returned to The Bev to see EO, Jerzy Skolimowski’s gorgeous award-winning film—it won the 'Jury Prize’ at the 75th Cannes Film Festival; and, submitted by Poland, was nominated in the category of ‘Best International Feature Film’ at the 95th Academy Awards—about a donkey’s journeys through Poland and Italy, during which he experiences mankind’s kindness and cruelty.  I knew, going in, that EO was considered a masterwork in cinematography, but it wasn’t until watching the film at the Bev, that I realized how aurally commanding it was, as well.  It was so incredibly tactile, by which I mean that you could ‘feel’ everything that you saw and heard on the screen, whether the texture of the titular donkey’s fur, water running off the back of a horse being washed, or the crashing of a case of trophies.

Afterward, completely shook from the film, and still clutching the box of Kleenex that we’d (wisely) brought with us, I asked Kip Kelly how much of what I’d heard was due to Pawel Mykietyn’s award-winning score, and how much was a result of The Bev’s sound system.  He excitedly informed us that the great thing about The Bev’s Constellation platform is that it allows the venue to present the sound as the composer/sound engineer intended for it to be heard.

So, what can you see at the Bev, in the next few weeks?  Following is just a sampling of the films being screened through the end of March: March 19, Carol, Todd Haynes’s 2015 film adaptation of Patricia Highsmith’s 1952 novel, The Price of Salt—named “one of the greatest films of the 21st century” by the BBC—starring Cate Blanchett, Rooney Mara, Sarah Paulson, Jake Lacy, and Kyle Chandler; March 19-23, EO (see above); March 24, Son of the White Mare, the 1981 animated feature by Marcell Jankovics, based on the Hungarian folk-tale, Fehérlófia (published in 1862 by László Arany); March 26, The American Friend, Wim Wenders’s 1977 neo-noir adaptation of Patricia Highsmith’s 1974 novel, Ripley’s Game—selected by West Germany as its entry for the ‘Best Foreign Language Film’ at the 50th Academy Awards—starring Dennis Hopper and Bruno Ganz; March 29, The Graduate, Mike Nichols’s 1967 dramatic rom-com, adapted by Buck Henry and Calder Willingham from Charles Webb’s 1963 novel of the same name—selected for preservation in the U.S. National Film Registry by the Library of Congress (1996), and ranked 7th on the AFI’s 100 Years… 100 Films (1997)—starring Ann Bancroft, Dustin Hoffman, and Katharine Ross; and on March 31, Smoking Causes Coughing, Quentin Dupieux’s 2022 French comedy anthology film—included (as was EO) by John Waters on his list of the 'Ten Best Films of 2022' for Artforum, in which he hails the "Brilliant performances and dumbbell dialogue equal a superhero movie for idiots that surpasses all the tedium of Hollywood blockbusters"—that debuted at the 75th Cannes Film Festival, and spoofs such franchises as the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, Tales from the Crypt, The Avengers, Star Wars, and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, with an all-star cast of French thespians, comedians, and humorists.  

And just so you know—considering The Bev’s three pillars of Film, Live, and Lit—the listings above don’t even touch on the venue’s literary programming or live events and performances; but I’ll let you check those out for yourselves.

The Beverly Theater
Downtown Las Vegas
Click HERE for info

Get into it!

[Editor’s Notes: * Premiere Week at the Beverly Theater began on Friday, March 03, and ran through Tuesday, March 07]

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