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Ushering in the digital age at the Astor Theatre in Liverpool, Nova Scotia

10252058_10204022706192919_8201383117976101285_nBy Nick Moase

photo © Christopher Green 2013

Film critic and former local Richard Crouse gives a lot of credit to the Astor Theatre for developing his love of movies.

Richard Crouse, former local and film critic, is coming to Liverpool on May 24 as MC for the Astor Theatre’s celebration of its new digital projector.

“When I discovered it, I ended up spending all my time there,” he says. “It’s really the place that gave me my love of movies.”

Crouse is coming down to host the Astor Theatre’s celebration of its new digital projector, for an evening titled Setting the Stage for the Digital Age.Crouse grew up just a few minutes walk from the theatre, and has fond memories of taking in matinees, sneaking out of the house to see movies during the week and being in the theatre practically every weekend.He later moved to Toronto and started a career as a writer, at first mainly in the music scene with a little bit in the movies. Slowly the movie side of things grew, until he was spending most of his time in the theatres again.

“It’s really where I always belonged,” he says.

Moving to digital is an important step for the Astor Theatre, he says, with Hollywood rapidly going to digital distribution.

“More and more theatres who aren’t making the change are having a hard time with programming.”

It gives the Astor a solid footing for the future as well, so it will be able to show the latest movies for years to come. He also sees it as a way for the Astor to continue to be a central part of the community.

“In a lot of ways, these one screen movie theatres can be part of the heartbeat of the community,” he says.

“(The Astor) is doing such a great job that I wanted to come down there and help celebrate that.”

Before the main movie, two short films by Nova Scotian filmmakers will play. Crouse says it harkens back to the days were theatres would show a newsreel or short film before the main picture.

“I thought it would be fun to replicate that for our night, so I found two really fun short movies made by Nova Scotian directors that will play before the main feature,” he says.

One has the rather provocative title of Sex with Hot Robots, but Crouse says he doesn’t want to say much more about them to pique people’s interest.

The main movie is called The Disappeared, which was shot along the South Shore and in Halifax. Once the movie has finished, Crouse is hosting a Q&A with some of the actors from the movie. The audience will be able to ask questions as well, and Crouse will also be asking people what their first movie they saw at the theatre was or what their favourite memory is from the theatre.

As for himself, Crouse doesn’t remember the first movie he saw in the theatre, and figures he probably wasn’t even walking yet at the time. However he has many vivid memories of the theatre. There was seeing The Sting with his father, and going back several times to see the Poseidon Adventure.

Then there was a very memorable scene from a movie called The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean, starring Paul Newman.

“Maybe my strongest memory of anything on the Astor screen was a shot in that movie, where someone shoots another character, and the cameral pans down to show the scene through the hole in the guy’s chest.”

Crouse has been the film critic for CTV’s Canada AM for the past 10 years, and has hosted TV shows on Bravo and the Independent Film Channel. In addition to TV work, he hosts a radio show on News Talk 1010 and writes two weekly columns, which are syndicated across the country.

He is also the author of 10 books, mostly on film, with the latest on Elvis Costello coming out next year.

“I like to keep busy. The hub of what I do is movie and movie related, but I spin it off into different things,” he says.

On May 24, he hopes to see lots of people come out and spend the evening at the Astor Theatre to celebrate its new era.

“I think it’s going to be a lot of fun. It’s going to be a little unexpected.”

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