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Sizzlin Feature

Cinema Al Fresco

Dusk! Projector! Action!

Daniel Krall

Sizzlin Summer 2010

Sizzlin' Summer Our annual comprehensive guide to surviving, thriving, and diverting yourself until September

The Scenic Route Rediscovering the countryside from a skinny-ass bike seat | By Michael Byrne

Parks and Rec Use our amazingly all-out, exhaustive and full-fledged key to find the outdoors-y hot spot you can c...

Gardens Adkins Arboretum, 12610 Eveland Road, Ridgely, (410) 634-2847, On your next tr...

Fishing For A Dip Looking for clean water? Look for guys in hip waders | By Van Smith

OC and OC Alternatives Ocean City Things to See Art League of Ocean City, 502 94th St., (410) 524-9433, artleagueofocean...

Pools Baltimore City's public pools were put in the crosshairs of the budget crunch this year, but the Dep...

It's Time World Cup 2010 kicks off in June--got your barstool lined up yet? | By Bret McCabe

Sports Druid Hill Park Disc Golf, pretty much any time you want, goofball. (443) 271-5351,

Ramping Up Local skaters spend the summer combining street art and activism | By Alex Ebstein

Art AIA Baltimore Bookstore and Gallery, 11 1/2 W. Chase St., (410) 625-2585,, 9 a.m.-4:30 ...

Festivals and Extra-Ivals Sowebo music and Arts Festival, noon-9 p.m. May 30, around Hollins Market, This mus...

Get Them To The Creek Family fun is as close as the nearest running water | By Lee Gardner

Kids And Zoos Stuff to See Adventure Park USA, 11113 W. Baldwin Road, New Market, (301) 865-6800, adventureparku...

Fourth Of July Gotta love it when July 4 falls on a weekend--for those who really dig the Independence Day merrymak...

History The Fells Point Haunted Pubwalk, 7 p.m. most Saturdays, outside Max's Taphouse 733 S. Broadway, (41...

Cinema Al Fresco Dusk! Projector! Action! | By Martin L. Johnson

Stage Welcome to all things theater during the hottest, stickiest part of the year. Some of these thespian...

Roll Down Your Windows Baltimore musicians make a playlist of their personal local summer jams | By Al Shipley

Summer Concert Guide May May 22-23: Chesapeake Bay Blues Festival with Buddy Guy, Chuck Berry, Jimmie Vaughan, Shemekia ...

Numb The City Paper I-Team™ tips it hard for the coldest beer in Baltimore

Outdoor Drinking Here in the Land of Pleasant Living, enjoying a refreshing legal beverage in the out-of-doors in the...

Food Festivals Funnel cakes, corn dogs, and other renditions of deep-fried dough may not be enough to make you want...

Farmers Markets Baltimore City Baltimore Farmers' Market and Bazaar, 7 a.m.-noon Sundays May 2-Dec. 19, Holliday...

Wineries Basignani Winery, 15722 Falls Road, Sparks, (410) 472-0703, Black Ankle Vineyards,...

Unhampered Pack a better picnic basket | By Wendy Ward

By Martin L. Johnson | Posted 5/19/2010

Outdoor movies are nothing new. In the earliest days of the cinema, entrepreneurs turned vacant lots into "airdomes" by erecting temporary walls, setting up a projector, and collecting nickels and dimes from paying customers. The post-WW2 generation embraced the "ozoner," or the drive-in, as a way to save money and, if one was on a date, take advantage of the privacy offered by a car.

But somewhere along the way, outdoor movies lost favor, even as the summer season grew increasingly important to Hollywood's bottom line. The last drive-in left in Maryland--Middle River's Bengies ( as much due to its retro charm and the charisma of oddball, rule-making owner D. Edward Vogel as its regular triple features. The summer blockbusters of the past four decades were almost all enjoyed indoors, often in chilly theaters with uncomfortable seats, buttery popcorn, and giant sodas. With the home entertainment boom, many moviegoers gave up on theaters altogether, and, now, people watch movies by themselves on their computer screens.

But in the past decade or so, outdoor cinema has made a comeback, in Baltimore and elsewhere. Fans hungry for the shared experience of moviegoing congregate to see their favorite films all over the city, from a Federal Hill slope to a pier in Fells Point to the heart of Little Italy. And this doesn't even count the neighborhood and backyard screenings that allow anyone with a projector and a library card to set up their own impromptu 16mm series. Even people who got out of the moviegoing habit entirely show up to see films with their neighbors, making Baltimore summers like those in the distant past, when every neighborhood had its own theater.

While some venues offer popcorn and sno-balls, moviegoers can self-cater, making the night's experience as sophisticated--or not--as one desires. Likewise, it's bring your own seat, so choose between a beach towel, a blanket, or a lawn chair. Summer films start at sundown--which is almost 9 p.m., in June and July--but people often show up an hour in advance, so if you're on time you might not be able to find a spot to see the screen. While there's no Rocky Horror-style catcalling, dogs and kids are everywhere, so don't expect the audience to be in rapt silence. Mid-evening thunderstorms can ruin the most anticipated screenings (some venues, including the American Visionary Art Museum, have indoor backup plans), and the programming is sometimes a bit too populist, but on the right night, with the right film, there's nothing more satisfying than a movie under the stars. And, maybe best of all, they're all free.

Little Italy Outdoor Film Festival

High and Stiles streets;

The grandfather of the local summer movie programs, the Little Italy Outdoor Film Festival marks its 14th year this summer and, as always, showcases Italian-flavored films on Friday nights. In what's become a tradition, the festival opens with Moonstruck, the 1987 romantic comedy starring Nicholas Cage and Cher. This year's films use Italy as the backdrop for romance, from the naïve lunching ladies in Tea With Mussolini to the unlikely romance of a Philadelphia lawyer and a young cabaret singer in It Started in Naples. The program also includes a number of contemporary takes on the same themes, from this year's magic realist rom-com When in Rome to the 2003 Hollywood homage to the heist film classic The Italian Job.

July 2: Moonstruck
July 9: Bread and Tulips
July 16: Tea With Mussolini
July 23: Big Night
July 30: It Started in Naples
August 6: The Italian Job
Aug. 13: My House in Umbria
Aug. 20: When in Rome
Aug. 27: Cinema Paradiso

Flicks on the Hill

800 Key Highway;

Now in its sixth year, the Flicks on the Hill program uses the slope of Federal Hill as a natural amphitheater and a giant screen hangs from the back wall of a building at the American Visionary Art Museum. Although this year's program shares The Princess Bride with two other series, the bulk of the program presents pairs of films on unexpected themes. From auteurist nostalgia films Avalon (Barry Levinson) and Radio Days (Woody Allen) to Hollywood technology fables Singin' in the Rain and King Kong (the superior 1933 version) to feel-good sports movies A League of Their Own and Rocky, this year's program has something for everyone. David Byrne's True Stories lacks an obvious pairing, but, then, there are more than 50 sets of twins in the cast.

July 1: Singin' in the Rain
July 8: Avalon
July 15: The Princess Bride
July 22: Radio Days
July 29: King Kong
Aug. 5: A League of Their Own
Aug. 12: True Stories
Aug. 19: Rocky

Films on the Pier

Broadway Pier;

While some summer programs mix the popular with the esoteric, the Films at the Pier program is happy to recap the biggest films of the past year, including sci-fi and horror hits such as Star Trek, Avatar, and Twilight: New Moon, Sandra Bullock hits The Proposal and The Blind Side, the gross-out comedy The Hangover (the credits showing photographs from the lost digital camera will not be shown), and the cloying (500) Days of Summer.

July 7: Star Trek
July 14: The Hangover
July 21: The Hurt Locker
July 28: Avatar
Aug. 5: The Blind Side
Aug. 12: Twilight: New Moon
Aug. 19: The Proposal
Aug. 25: (500) Days of Summer

Hopkins Summer Outdoor Films

Johns Hopkins University, Homewood Campus Lower Quad, Shriver Hall;

The programmers gave web site visitors an opportunity to vote on this year's program, so it's no surprise to see animated films (Up and the underrated Fantastic Mr. Fox), oddball classics (The Addams Family and--wait for it--The Princess Bride), and J.J. Abrams' take on Star Trek on the program. Starting at 7:30 p.m., local musicians play before the films, and the screening itself starts at sundown.

June 18: The Addams Family
June 25: Up
July 9: The Princess Bride
July 16: Fantastic Mr. Fox
July 23: Star Trek

Village of Cross Keys Movie Fest

Village Square, Cross Keys;

A relative newcomer to the summer-movie schedule, the Village of Cross Keys gets an early start with a quartet of crowd-pleasers: the Cary Grant and Audrey Hepburn genre-bending thriller/comedy Charade, the Woody Allen standard Annie Hall, a third screening of fairy tale comedy The Princess Bride, and Lasse Hallström's romance Chocolat.

June 5: Charade
June 12: Annie Hall
June 19: The Princess Bride
June 26: Chocolat

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Sizzlin Feature archives

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Sizzlin' Summer (5/19/2010)
Our annual comprehensive guide to surviving, thriving, and diverting yourself until September

The Scenic Route (5/19/2010)
Rediscovering the countryside from a skinny-ass bike seat

Parks and Rec (5/19/2010)

More from Martin L. Johnson

The Return of Kuchar (7/14/2010)
Legendary underground filmmaker brings some new works to town

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Happy? (6/9/2010)
Baltimore's latest tourism campaign rekindles the city's ongoing branding issues

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