Several years ago, I saw a screening of the Patrick Swayze movie “Road House” at Seattle’s Central Cinema, with live on-the-fly commentary by writer David Schmader. Perhaps best known for doing live commentary screenings of Paul Verhoeven’s “Showgirls”—screenings that helped to cement “Showgirls” as a cult classic—Schmader pointed out all kinds of shades and dimensions we never saw in “Road House” before. (Basically, it’s gay porn.) We laughed; we learned; we were nice until it was time to not be nice.
Schmader is hardly the first to do commentary screenings. Roger Ebert also hosted them regularly, and live film commentary is kind of a film school staple. In fact, practically every Blu-Ray and DVD in your collection contains an Eberting or Schmadering. There’s just something inherently cool about watching a movie with someone who understands it, whether that person is a filmmaker or someone who’s had good reason to think about a particular film a whole lot.
This Wednesday, September 10, at Inspire, DTLV.com and Vegas Seven are bringing some of your favorite Las Vegas films together with some of those deep thinkers. The Seven Essential Vegas Movies series begins with a screening of Martin Scorcese’s 1995 classic “Casino,” featuring live commentary by David Schwartz, Director of the Center of Gaming Research at UNLV and author of Roll the Bones: The History of Gambling, and Oscar Goodman, former Mayor of the City of Las Vegas and, y’know, kind of the king of all he surveys. Hell, he’s actually in “Casino,” playing himself. You can’t get any closer to the story of “Casino” than actually being a part of it.
The plan is not to shout gibberish over dialogue, or to make the film into a hackneyed Mystery Science Theater 3000. (Though if it were, I’d definitely be Tom Servo.) Rather, we’re hoping to enhance your knowledge and appreciation of films you already know well through some well-placed observations and stories, like Schmader did with “Road House.” You can even ask questions of the commenters—or add commentary of your own—by Tweeting @inspirelv or @dtlvfans, using the hashtag “#7essential.”
So, basically, we’re showing “Casino” with two men who know a hell of a lot about the movie and the events on which it’s based. And you can be there to listen in. The night begins with a cocktail hour and Q&A with Oscar at 7 p.m., and the film screens at 8. Admission to the screening is free with the purchase of one $7 specialty cocktail. And the best part? We’re doing this six more times after Wednesday. Dayvid Figler will take a shot at Schmader’s title with his unique perspective on “Showgirls”; Vegas Seven columnist James Reza will offer a local perspective on “Diamonds Are Forever”; Double Down Saloon/Frankie’s Tiki Room owner P Moss presents “The Las Vegas Story” and more.
Seating for these screenings is first-come, first served. We hope to see you there, and that for the duration of these seven weeks, Seven Essential becomes your new Wednesday-night thing.
Seven Essential Vegas Movies: “Casino,” Wednesday, September 10 at Inspire, 107 Las Vegas Blvd. South, (702) 489-9110. Admission is free with purchase of one $7 specialty cocktail.