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REEL LIFE / FILM & VIDEO FILE : Feature Titles to Hit the Marquee at Ventura Theatre : A director's version of the futuristic 'Blade Runner' kicks off the monthly Sunday series. There will be two showings plus an array of Asian foods.

March 23, 1995|PANCHO DOLL | TIMES STAFF WRITER

The launch of a Sunday Film Series at the Ventura Theatre this week marks the return of Hollywood feature films there for the first time in 15 years.

"We (have had) movies here," said Betty Elder, publicist for the theater. "Ski movies and surf movies, but as far as feature films, it's been some time."

The series starts with Ridley Scott's "Blade Runner." And it's not just any "Blade Runner," either. This is the director's cut, a version that leaves out the extensive voice-over that was later added to help audiences follow the plot. Perhaps more significant, the director's cut restores the ambiguous unicorn ending, which had been cut at the insistence of studio executives and replaced with a scene that suggests that the Harrison Ford and Sean Young characters live happily ever after.

Even without the unicorn ending, aficionados admired the original film for Scott's scrupulous attention to detail. Legend has it that hundreds of cocktail glasses were auditioned before one was selected as a minor prop.

The film was slow to grow on audiences. When it was released in 1982, film-goers chose another sci-fi movie that opened on the same day: "E.T."

What a difference a decade makes. When Scott's version was released at San Francisco's Castro theater in 1992, the venue had the highest weekly attendance of any theater in the United States.

Maybe it's something about the weird retro clothing design in the futuristic film that makes it play so well in old theaters.

In tribute to the film's visionary set design, something Scott described as "Hong Kong on a bad day," Elder said, the Ventura Theatre is going to feature a theme menu of sushi and other Asian dishes.

There will be two screenings, the first at 4:30 p.m. and the second at 7:30. Admission is $6, not counting food.

The Sunday Film Series will be a monthly event, but Elder said it may be increased to twice monthly if response is good.

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A celebration of Spanish-language culture this week at Cal Lutheran University reminds us that titles are often the most difficult part of a movie to translate.

It was easy to translate "Amor Brujo," Carlos Saura's 1986 Gypsy-flamenco movie, as "Love, the Magician," but it's the second picture, the Mexican hit "Like Water for Chocolate," that's tongue-tied translators around the world.

The title, an expression little-known outside Mexico, refers to the perfect temperature for water to melt chocolate. But in Italy the title translated to "Sweet Like Chocolate," and French translators called it "Bitter Chocolate." The English titled it "Like Water for Hot Chocolate" and the Poles abandoned the premise entirely in favor of "Red Roses and Tortillas."

Bad as those are, Laura Esquivel, author of the book and screenplay, has said that her favorite was the Japanese version, "The Legend of the Rose Petal Sauce."

Whatever you call it, the movie screens at 8 p.m. Monday in the Preus-Brandt auditorium on the Cal Lutheran Campus. "Amor Brujo" screens Tuesday, same time and place. For more information, call 493-3151.

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Ventura County is the only Southern California county that doesn't have an office dedicated to helping the film and television industry find locations.

Producers need one place where they can go for permits and fees, Pam Powell of the California Film Commission said. Without countywide coordination, location managers face a bewildering thicket of different jurisdictions and agencies.

The city of Fillmore got the message five years ago and formed a film commission that has quadrupled the number of productions filmed there to 20 per year, contributing hundreds of thousands of dollars to local merchants, says film commissioner John McKinnon.

"We've met with all the supervisors and the different chambers of commerce" to get them to establish a countywide commission, said McKinnon, who estimates that the county is missing out on several million dollars of business annually.

Al Escoto, an aide for county Supervisor Maggie Kildee, said the county isn't going to create a film office any time soon.

"The majority (of board members) feel that because of the budget, we can't fund it," he said. "It will have to be done through another arm of government, but it can't come out of general funds."

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