And Here’s Column #77: A Look Back and a Glance Ahead

Casey St. Charnez - May 27, 2014

Three years ago this week, over Memorial Day weekend 2011, I turned in my first “Media Rare” column to editor Todd Eric Lovato.

When I look at the 76 blogs I’ve written over these 36 months, including the Video Library New Release writeups I started doing a couple of months ago, it’s an interesting exercise in updating and reconsidering.

That debut entry “Web Sites for Movie Buffs” is still valid, but it has a couple of hindsight shockers. The biggest is that Roger Ebert is now gone (see my April 5, 2013 obit). His absence remains sad for me, and for many others, too. At least we have his written legacy, as well as an upcoming feature documentary on his work, Life Itself, release date, however, TBA.

Another for instance: At the end of last summer I wrote about the impending demise of the Fort Union Drive-in, an hour east of us over in Las Vegas ( About a month ago, I dutifully began dialing them at (505) 425-9934 to see if they would be there this summer, but got a disconnect message every time. However, I just read in Sunday’s New Mexican that someone did indeed come up with enough donation money to buy the digital projector the place needed to stay open, and it looks like the first night of upgraded entertainment will be June 13th. But their phone still isn’t answering. More to come…

Then, this Friday May 30th brings the premiere of A Million Ways to Die in the West, about whose hilarious red-band trailer I reported last February. At the time, I thought it looked like it would be very crude and very funny. But that anticipation has been tainted somewhat by stars Charlize Theron and Seth McFarlane, who soundly disparaged the New Mexico filmmaking experience in print and interviews. Their sour ruminations on the local climate, cuisine, and nightlife seem to bite the hand that feeds them, affecting my perception of the actors, and not to their good. 

Not so Godzilla, which last weekend enjoyed the biggest box-office debut of the year thus far. The movie has no New Mexico ties—except for me, as I consider the big guy my very favorite movie star. This new one is pretty satisfying and quite spectacular, a worthy addition to the filmography, which I addressed in a column ( Most happily, in checking Xfinity On Demand this morning, I discovered a bevy of flicks on Fearnet. As soon as I’ve finished this writeup, I gotta go watch Godzilla 2000 (1999), and later this week I’ve got Godzilla, Mothra, and King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack (2001), Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla (2002), Godzilla: Tokyo S.O.S. (2003), and Godzilla: Final Wars (2004). Pass the sushi.

It was a regretful column I composed in December 2011 about the closing of Regal’s United Artists South at the Villa Linda—strike that, I’m sure I meant to say Santa Fe Place ( The mall’s buyer had big upscale plans that didn’t include a circa 1985 movie theater…and more’s the pity. Because here we are 2 ½ years later, and Santa Fe Place is even worse off than it was back then. The stores are in a ghost town. There’s no foot traffic. The hallways echo. Seems to me that the lack of warm bodies would be ameliorated by re-opening this once-hopping venue. Lisa and I used to get out of a movie there and go walk through Dillard’s, Sears, Penney’s, Mervyn’s, and more. We’d even buy stuff occasionally. Isn’t that what mall management wants? Apparently not. Dumb to keep this perfectly good theater dark. 
In 2011 I mourned the passing of the ABC soap All My Children, which I had watched since episode one back in 1970 ( At the time there was talk about an online continuation on Hulu, which came to pass, and thenpassed. Only a few dozen episodes aired, and even I, who gazed eagerly upon the first few entries, grew disenchanted and abandoned the show. Pretty much, it was because actress Susan Lucci had refused to move from NYC to LA to continue the daytime drama, and without her Erica Kane, for me there was little reason to tune in. Thomas Wolfe was right about not going home again. 

More? Okay. In December 2012 I wrote admiringly of New Mexico’s best movie theater, the XD auditorium in Albuquerque’s Century Rio 24 ( Its status since has been superseded by Winrock’s spankin’ new IMAX 3-D and RPX screens.

And then there was my account of a memorable birthday entirely spent around horses. One of the subjects of that column was the Sky Mountain Wild Horse Sanctuary, its herd of rescued mustangs, and its dedicated founder Karen Herman. Back then, 18 months ago, Karen and wrangler/whisperer Dan Elkins talked about a documentary-in-progress that one Sylvia Johnson was in the middle of shooting. Sky Mountain was to be part of that account, and Dan was full of praise for Sylvia, and her willingness to do whatever it took to get the footage she needed.

Well, here we are a year and a half later, and lo and behold, Sylvia’s film Roaming Wild is not only finished, it’s also set to show locally this coming weekend! The Center for Contemporary Arts has it May 31st and Sunday June 1st, both shows at noon. Karen and Sylvia will be joined by Phil Carter of Animal Protection New Mexico. The 65-minute feature, which is quite well made, I must say, will also be part of the Albuquerque Film Fest on June 4.

Probably, I will have more to say about Roaming Wild later this week.

Actually, you can bet on it.