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After Sunset: The Life And Times Of The Drive-In Theater


After Sunset: The Life And Times Of The Drive-In Theater

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As the solemn statements that play just before the credits of this slight documentary inform us, the number of drive-in theaters in America has dwindled from over 5,000 to under 900. Drive-in culture, for whatever reason, has faded from prominence, and there's definitely a lot to be said about it as a metaphor for a faded era. Filmmaker Jon Bokenkamp gathers together an interesting group of people, including director John Carpenter and exploitation film expert Joe Bob Briggs, to discuss the subject, but his own insights—which echo those of some of his subjects—could be pulled straight from a Republican fundraising film. The interviews with the aforementioned experts and various drive-in owners and patrons are much more interesting than Bokenkamp and company's goal of searching for vestiges of a "simpler" (read: "better") time, a quest that takes the form of what looks like home movies of a handful of frat boys on a road trip. It's difficult to feel sorry for someone nostalgic for a time before he was born, and truly frustrating to see such a fascinating subject presented with such saccharine shallowness.