Friday, December 31, 2021

2021 The Longest Bengies Season Ever, Part 2

Follow-up to Part 1, which covered the winter months from January through March 2021, where the Bengies Theatre season opened months earlier than normal, leading to the longest season. In fact, probably the longest possible season given the drive-in would not operate on a New Years or Christmas week in the beginning or end of the year. How many weeks did they operate? Close to 50, I'd have to think.

April - December

  1. Free Guy
  2. Shang Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings
  3. Suicide Squad 2021
  4. Ghostbusters Afterlife
  5. Eternals
  6. Respect
  7. No Time To Die
  8. Ron's Gone Wrong
  9. Clifford The Big Red Dog
  10. Space Jam: A New Legacy / The Mask (1994)

That's my top eleven for half (or 3/4) of 2021, in a fairly representative based on my recollections of the film slightly biased by weather, food intake, and crowdedness. 

The top two were shown at the Scout camp-in, our tenth so far. It was great to see first-run features, and other than The Mask, all on this list are new releases (whether planned for 2020 I am unsure). Of the two, I favored Free Guy for the special features and plot twists more than acting or directing.

Suicide Squad had the most imaginative scope even more than a James Bond or the 10 Rings, even. Brutal, and only cathartic if you have the stomach. For drive-in fare: perfect.

The last film we saw in 2021 was the newest Ghostbusters. As a late in life sequel, it had an uphill climb to be digestible, and with the least amount of the old crew as possible, a good tale. I was particularly moved by the many homages and nods to Harold Ramis, even with the modern studio bent to put virtual words and motions into the late population.

Eternals; spouse loved it. Will watch again on blu-ray.

The story of Respect was more hard-hitting than a run-of-the-mill biopic, and I'd have enjoyed it more in an indoor setting for some reason. Maybe not a big-screen epic, a big heart reveal.

Bond. 007. Still going. Great escapism. Expected chases and explosions, not disappointed. Daniel Craig is aging slowly, but I think he's close to done with the franchise.

I would not have included Ron's Gone Wrong if it didn't have that yippie streak of revolt and independence that so reminds me of the 60s. A kids picture with an adult moral. On the surface, about social media and technology, but underneath human social challenges exemplified by loneliness and exclusion.

Clifford, likewise, was adorable enough without major sweetness to quality for inclusion. I needed to get to 10 on the list only for my internal goal. Stretching the year into 2 separate "Top 10" lists required viewing more than (or at least as many as) twenty films through. Leaving 10 minutes into the start doesn't qualify either.

Space Jam hits at the buzzer.


Dune shows up on the marquee photo below in mid-November and I flinched and didn't go then. The bill wasn't held over to the next week, and I regret my call. Sigh. Good or bad, would have stayed through the end.

We saw trailers for Spider-Man which didn't show at the end of the year. Holiday classics took hold, which makes sense given there would be fewer than 100 customers by my guess. 

No images from April through June even though the Bengies didn't close more than a handful of scheduled dates through the whole year. I have the pictures, we just didn't go to those for whatever reason (don't like horror, too much animation, and yes, hard rain).









Thursday, December 30, 2021

2021 The Longest Bengies Season Ever, Part 1

In part 1, I want to share what attending the Bengies Drive-In during the winter was like, typifying the post-pandemic can-do attitude of the management and staff. At the end of the December 2020, the Bengies was one of the few attractions for entertainment, indoors theaters being dark for months. We attended end-of-year shows, I wrote a year-end review, and thought the drive-in experience was stopping until spring. But the show must go on.

Winter Shows

As there was again minimal snow, the theater could book showings. But, there was minimal new content and oldies were getting stale. The Bengies worked with another group to schedule films that would have been shown at The Charles if their house was open.

January 4

The first double bill in 2021 went from sublime to ridiculous; we stayed through intermission and into a few minutes of Borat 2 before heading out.

One Night In Miami we'd watched as a play at Baltimore's Center Stage; the movie version came out broader and to me less intense.

January 24th I messaged that there would be two Fellini Films [La Strada and Juliet Of The Spirits. New restorations--in Italian with--English subtitles. Alas, incorrect information.

January 24

"Eight cars on the field so far"

"And the evening ends early since the films have no subtitles."

A Fellini film is often surreal; seeing it at the drive-in in January was also. Almost seeing a restored print was sublimely surreal.


Hitchcock I can watch any time, any number of times. Maybe not all perfection, never disappoints.

The marquee street view of the Hitchcock bill [Vertigo and Rear Window] is seen below in a "coming soon" crawl for the Revival Sunday; I got this double feature of classics on a bright February morning.

Ghost / When Harry Met Sally

I had seen the second a few times and the first none I could remember. I liked both even on re-run. The winter temperatures and humidity didn't fog up the car windows. We were inside for all these features, with plenty of blankets. Not a pleasant time for everyone though!

The next double feature, on February 16, was 42 (The Jackie Robinson Story), and Judas and The Black Messiah. Judas would be my number one movie choice for 2021. Amazing story, and true to the times as I can recall them.


The third month stayed on the warm side, no snow, and moderate rain. The partial marquee image shows Tom & Jerry alongside Wonder Woman 1984.

We managed to avoid seeing any of T&J, while enjoying every moment of Wonder Woman. Excellent escapism for the one-year anniversary of the pandemic outbreak. 

This recap doesn't have a Letterman-style top 10 countdown, as I already picked number one and everything else is number two. Though the 10 minutes of Italian was almost a zero.