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Monday, September 27, 2021

Academy Museum of Motion Pictures Preview: It's About Time We Had A Film Museum Pt.1


By Jonathan Bilski
As repeated by Tom Hanks at the press preview, held last Tuesday, at the almost fully realized Museum of Motion Pictures, it's about time we had a museum for film in LA. "It matters for Los Angeles to have this Museum," adding " has to be a Parthenon." An oversight that will soon be fixed by going to the corner of Wilshire Blvd on Museum Row. There, finally open to the public this Thursday, Sept 30th 2021 will be a five-story building paying tribute to film, film history and all the people who make them. 

And, yes, it's crazy we didn't have a museum devoted to film until now. LA, the city that makes films, that makes the dreams people dream of, has finally made a place to take a deeper look into them.

And you'd be out of your mind to think they wouldn't have a new state-of-the-art-theater to enjoy the classics, cult, weird and what have you. They've already have sold-out showings for the 1,000-seat David Geffen Theater. The "bubble" as dubbed by it's designer and architect Renzo Piano. A funny old man who told the press to remind folks not to call it The Death Star. As soon as "the bubble" opens, it'll show horror films for October. Anime for Miyazaki, because he has his own exhibit and so many amazing films. You don't event have to go to the museum to enjoy it. It's separated by red carpet walkway bridges and you can just head to it when you arrive there.

The Barbra Streisand Bridge is one of the hilariously named structures at the museum. It wouldn't be LA or a museum if everything wasn't a level that's ridiculous. Now, I'll be taking you through my preview of the museum, but also naming locations much like if everything was a baseball field owned by a corporation. And that wasn't a typo earlier, Renzo Piano is the real name of the architect and was quite a humble and funny man who made the museum with thousands of people underneath him, Piano acknowledged without those people working for him, he never could have done anything. That's probably as humble anyone will get at the museum.

Other than begging for the Museum's theater not to be called a Death Star he made the very valid point asking, "Tell me another art that can make people shed tears?" Adding, "maybe music," one second after saying that.

And there is a small area to sit in called the Netflix Lounge. No, you can't watch Netflix there, it's just one of the many named areas. I was kind of amazed no benches I saw or the restroom I went to wasn't the Tubi Toilet or Amazon Prime Bench.

Jaws was hanging from the ceiling. (Yeah, I know technically his name is Bruce) The iconic shark was hanging behind me, staring with it cold black eyes on my back as I ascended to the special limited time exhibit of Hayao Miyazaki. As Jaws washed over me I rushed to the awe and beauty to the work of the amazing animation of the master animator. With sadness, I report no one was allowed to take pictures and you won't either. Just like, if you visited the Ghibli Museum in Japan, you're just supposed to take the memories with you. The rest of the museum is fine for taking selfies, but not here.
However, the following images were provided by the museum.
This wonderful retrospective shares Miyazaki and Studio Ghibli's utterly ideal animated films. Beautiful animation and baffling nonsensical writing with sometimes zero pay-off. Wondrous sights since the 80's until now, when they switched to CGI. Luckily, only one poster signifies that really lackluster CGI film, Earwig and the Witch. Minus that poster, the exhibit showcases Miyzaki's early work from the much regarded The Castle of Cagliostro to Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind and all the films from Ghibli. Different portions of the exhibit show storyboards, sketches and dioramas from the films. Sections are  devoted to the beauty represented by nature, especially trees. You'll be walking by one that lights up like magic. And sections devoted to transformations, flying and just wonderful landscapes Ghibli makes.

There's this wonderful section you can just lie on some fake grass and stair up as anime clouds go by.
*They need to work on the lighting a little better so you can enjoy the clouds drifting by.
 As I was leaving the museum and giving the Miyazaki exhibit one more go, I saw three female reporters lounging on the grass, discussing their favorite films. Just enjoying a place to relax and see the clouds go by.
It's kind of amazing anime being recognized so highly. There's even a small space celebrating Akira downstairs. Something I didn't expect to see. The museum seeing anime at all as something to look out for truly shows how powerful it can be and how it's become ingrained into our culture. I hope the Miyazaki exhibit isn't the end of anime being realized being a major part of film. Let's hope they share some late night anime on the big screen there.


So, there's something for everyone. And if it isn't there now, it will be some day. Because the museum, could never truly hold everything that goes into making a film all at once.

Especially, when the fifth floor is a Tea Room. Yeah, not sure how that one got put in. And it wasn't done when the press preview was going on. So, I can't comment on the tea. Was it out of place. Yeah. Oddly, not named after anyone. I can't wait for the Arrowhead or Nestle Tea Room though. I do find it to be a very strange choice and it wasn't talked about much by anyone there.

The first floor, for right now, is also kind of...wasted. It's a huge empty lobby with an entrance to Fanny's, the funny named museum restaurant that looks like old school Hollywood prestigious dining. The very nice, quite large gift shop and this weird room showing clips from famous movies for the Stories of Cinema exhibit. I didn't much care for it as it explained nothing and didn't say what films were playing. Some I knew and some I didn't and it's a shame, because you might want to know, so you can watch them. I say skip it.


There's also another theater below and a education studio that I feel schoolchildren will be forced to go to when they arrive for field trips.

Any of the other floors and you're gonna get an eyeful. And you'll be seeing an eyeful in Part 2 of our preview with Stories of Cinema and Path to Cinema exhibits will be shared with props, awards and costumes.


Open To The Public Sept 30th
6067 Wilshire Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90036
Across from the Petersen Automotive Museum and adjacent to LACMA
Adults $25*
Seniors (age 62+) $19
College Students $15
Children (age 17-) FREE**
Members FREE
The OscarsⓇ Experience + $15 per person***
*CA EBT cardholders receive free general admission.
**Free general admission for visitors 17 years of age and younger provided by an endowment in honor of Sid Ganis.
As for parking, as of writing there doesn't seem to be a dedicated parking lot for the museum. The website says park over at LACMA or the Petersen, which seems a little crazy. There is a dedicated lane for valet and Uber/Lyft drop-off.
Some pictures in this article were provided by The Academy Museum & Joshua White, JWPictures and are copy written.
More info:
 The seven-story, 300,000-square-foot museum, which draws on the unique resources of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and is located in the heart of LA’s Miracle Mile, will open with:
  • the 30,000-square-foot core exhibition Stories of Cinema, offering celebratory, critical, and personal perspectives on the disciplines and impact of moviemaking, past and present
  • the temporary exhibition Hayao Miyazaki, the first museum retrospective in North America of the work of the acclaimed filmmaker and Studio Ghibli
  • The Path to Cinema: Highlights from the Richard Balzer Collection, with selections from the world’s foremost holdings of pre-cinematic optical toys and devices
  • Backdrop: An Invisible Art, a double-height installation that presents the painting of Mount Rushmore used in North by Northwest (USA, 1959)
  • and The Oscars® Experience, an immersive simulation that lets visitors imaginatively step onto the stage of the Dolby Theatre to accept an Academy Award®.
The museum’s roster of screenings—including Oscar® Sundays and Family Matinees—will be presented in its new 1,000-seat David Geffen Theater and the 288-seat Ted Mann Theater beginning on September 30 with a special presentation of The Wizard of Oz (USA, 1939) with live musical accompaniment by the American Youth Symphony conducted by Oscar nominee David Newman in the larger theater. Highlights of the first three months of film screenings, discussions, and programs include:
  • Stories of Cinema: screenings of films highlighted in the core exhibition, including Real Women Have Curves (USA, 2002) and The Way of the Dragon (Hong Kong, 1972)
  • Malcolm X in 70mm: a screening for Academy Museum Members with special guests Spike Lee and Denzel Washington
  • Oscar® Frights: screenings of Oscar-winning and Oscar-nominated horror films, including Get Out (USA, 2017), Pan’s Labyrinth (Mexico, 2006) and Psycho (USA, 1960)
  • Hayao Miyazaki: screenings of the filmmaker’s complete body of work, in conjunction with the inaugural temporary exhibition
  • Imperfect Journey: Haile Gerima and His Comrades: screenings in honor of Haile Gerima with special guests including Malik Sayeed, Bradford Young, Arthur Jafa, and Ava DuVernay
  • Sound Off: A Celebration of Women Composers: screenings of films scored by women composers, including Joker (USA, 2019), scored by Hildur Guðnadóttir, and Tron (USA, 1982), scored by Wendy Carlos
  • Retrospectives of Jane Campion and Satyajit Ray, with the latter drawing from the Academy Film Archive’s rich holdings of his works
  • Beyond the Icon: Anna May Wong: a celebration of the actress’s work and legacy, including screenings of Piccadilly (UK, 1929) and Shanghai Express (USA, 1932)
  • Legacy: a cross-generational discussion series, beginning with a conversation between Laura Dern and her parents Bruce Dern and Diane Ladd
  • In Conversation: a topical discussion series that begins with a conversation between producers Effie T. Brown and Heather Rae on how to contextualize cinema