A couple weeks ago one of the gay blogs I read had a good review of the movie Test. It sounded interesting. Perhaps a week later there was an ad for the movie in Between the Lines for a showing in Detroit. This was at Cinema Detroit, a theater I had heard about only at the recent Cinetopia film festival, though I didn't see a movie there. I found the theater's website and made a note of the times. A few showings were at 10:00 at night. Last night the showing was at 8:00 so I went.
This theater is on Cass, just south of Martin Luther King Blvd, which puts it just south of Detroit's Midtown, home of several cultural institutions such as the Detroit Institute of Art. I figured the place was a refurbished neighborhood theater, something like the Opera House or Orchestra Hall, with a big marquee out front, though much less grand. Um, no.
I saw the sandwich-board signs and pulled into the fenced parking lot. The building was good sized, though didn't look at all like a traditional movie theater. It was a bit disconcerting to see only one other car there and only 10 minutes to showtime. I followed the signs along a walk squeezed between the building and the fence to the opposite side of the building. More signs directed me up a few stairs to the box office and concessions. My theater was downstairs and I made a stop in the men's room before heading in.
By then I was able to piece together what this place was. The lockers lining the halls were the first clue, the “Boys” on the restroom door was the second (though once inside I wasn't sure what the pool table was doing in the spacious area between the stalls and row of urinals). This was an old elementary school, renovated barely enough to use for the theater.
I think the actual theater had been a small gymnasium. Hard to tell. It was lined with drapes, had a screen mounted on one wall, several rows of cushy seats (with cupholders in the arms), and a projection booth.
I think there might have been 50 seats. And I was the only one sitting in them.
At 8:00 the screen came to life with previews of what this little theater would be showing in the next couple weeks. Shortly after that the lights dimmed and the feature started.
I hope this little theater makes it. Detroit could use a place that shows nieche films. Alas, if they have too many showings with just one in the audience I suspect they won't last long.
On to the movie itself. Test is about a young man in a dance company in San Francisco in 1985. Yes, he – and probably most of his male colleagues – are gay. The significance of the date is that was when the test for AIDS first became available. A question they face: do they take the test?
There were several dance sequences, all of them great. The original review said the director had cast dancers and taught them to act, rather than casting actors in hopes they can dance. The dancers appreciated the free acting lessons. Even so, they weren't great actors. The movie seemed to have lots of long or unnecessary scenes, such as frequently watching the main character walk down the hill to the dance studio or auditorium or walk up the hill to his apartment. Then there were lots of scenes of him staring into the distance deep in thought. So the big issues of the movie were mentioned, but didn't seem to drive the characters all that much. The movie was very low-key.