Claire Danes is surprised as Leonardo DiCaprio takes her hand to kiss in scene from the film 'Romeo + Juliet', 1996. (Photo by 20th Century-Fox/Getty Images)
  • Do you remember the unbridled excitement of preparing your summer reading list and then checking off books? Or did you, like, have friends and stuff? Either way, Film Streams has you covered with its ongoing Screen Teens series, which includes movies based on YA-targeted books. All screenings are inflation-proofed at the grand price of free, an invisible admission fee that somehow also covers a free fun-sized popcorn and small soda. On July 14 at 11 a.m., the Ruth Sokolof Theater will show “The Hate U Give,” and on Aug 11 at 11 a.m., they’ll spin “Scott Pilgrim vs. the World.” The idea is that teen attendees read the source material and participate in the post-show discussion with Film Streams’ education coordinator and an Omaha Public Library Youth Services specialist, but that’s not a “rule.” But all the cool kids are doing it. Specifically, the very coolest kids are checking those books out of the public library. Those kids will probably grow up idolized and admired, likely being rich behind their wildest imaginations. But, you know, don’t read or attend if you don’t want.
  • Beyond books and movies for your eyes, Film Streams also has something rad for your ears. They’ve made a Spotify summer playlist that can legally be called eclectic and morally be called imperative. You can get it here: It features a Garbage song from “Romeo + Juliet,” an “Empire Records” track, and “Fade Into You” by Mazzy Star that the Film Streams DJs are attributing to “American Honey,” but we all know best from “Starship Troopers.” If you’re going to come at me, in my own ears, with that kind of Gen X grooving and throw a Prince song into the mix, I have no choice but to call it the definitive set list of summertime jammie jams for 2022. Put it on the books.
  • I would be remiss and neglectful and other synonyms for inept if I didn’t mention that Alamo Drafthouse Omaha is hyping Sir John Carpenter this summer in the “Summer of Darkness” series. He’s not actually knighted because America doesn’t do that (although we absolutely should). You can see “Christine” on July 15, “Starman” on July 20, “The Thing” on Aug 5, and “Prince of Darkness” on Aug 12. I say you can see them when I mean you should or must. This is such a treat for those of us who grew up only knowing Carpy (not his nickname, nobody calls him that) through cable TV or VHS. From summer book clubs to Gen X songs and VHS mentions, I can only hope that my aging references are outdated enough to be somehow cool?
  • Speaking of nostalgia … Pour out some popcorn for Westwood Cinemas 8. A staple of my and many other Omahans’ youth, the theater shut down a few months back. I would be remiss if I didn’t sincerely speak about the importance of discount theaters. Seeing a movie on the big screen is an increasingly costly experience. It’s also one that shouldn’t be reserved for those with privilege. Yes, we have streaming services and other outlets, but the theatrical experience means something, especially to kids. My folks would frequently respond to me raving at a movie trailer on TV with “We can see it when it hits the dollar theaters.” Beyond the sadness I always feel when a local theater closes, especially one that’s been open for a good, long while, I’m disappointed at the community’s loss of a more affordable cinematic experience. Westwood’s neon is now full dark and will be missed.

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