Well-furnished movie theaters are some of the best places to nap

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A still from Warhols Sleep or the latest ad for Showplace ICON?
  • A still from Warhol's Sleep or the latest ad for Showplace ICON?
As my father would say, Chicago has had great sleeping weather lately. The air's been dry, the wind quiet, and the temperatures only moderately cold. Even when it's rained, it's been pleasing, metronomic rain.

Unfortunately the city's theaters have failed to screen any good sleep-inducing movies that might complement the weather. The Incredible Burt Wonderstone is pretty dull, all right, but it doesn't rock you into the sort of contemplative state of which dreaming is a natural extension. Abbas Kiarostami once said, "The movies that keep me awake at night are often the ones that put me to sleep when I watch them." As opposed to recent touchstones like Once Upon a Time in Anatolia and Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives, thinking about Burt Wonderstone only makes you sleepy a second time. There was a new Kiarostami film in town recently, Like Someone in Love, but it was uncharacteristically suspenseful; in fact it made you more alert as you watched it. Viewers hoping for another guided meditation along the lines of Five Dedicated to Ozu or Shirin likely came out feeling cheated.

Showplace ICON, the south Loop multiplex whose interior resembles a giant bank lobby, has been advertising its new state-of-the-art sound system as being so good it will make you feel like you're inside the movie you're seeing. The theater should make good on this technology and screen Andy Warhol's Sleep before spring arrives. After all, it has the most comfortable seats in town—you sink into them as you would the lap of a coddling grandparent. Given the surroundings, it would make more sense for the theater to screen Sleep rather than the usual action-packed blockbusters. Come to think of it, Nude Restaurant would look pretty great on an ICON screen too.

At this most soulless of Chicago theaters, even ordering a snack induces a sense of tired docility. The concession-stand menu appears in the form of animated commercials on big flat-screen TVs, which make you feel like you're checking your plane's arrival time at the airport. This only adds to the feeling that you aren't meant to stay there very long and that you're expected to help maintain the anonymous vibe as long as you're there. (On a related note, why make people look at televisions after they've taken the effort to go to a cinema?) Still, I think the theater has potential. If the management has trouble scrounging up Warhol prints, perhaps they can bring in some throw rugs and a lazy old Saint Bernard.

Ben Sachs writes about moviegoing every Monday.

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