Saturday nights, bored and itchy for our usual movie date, we make sandwiches, pack drinks and crunchy snacks, and drive down to Lambertville and the ACME Carpool Cinema. This outdoor parking lot movie experience is curated by the city’s ACME Screening Room - where we’re also semi-regulars -  the weekly independent film series started there in the old ACME market 12 years ago. Their taste in movies is superb - mostly indies and docs, with frequent opportunities to chat with the filmmakers. But, like everything else, ACME’s inside home location is COVID-19 closed, so this is the next best thing. 

First time we went, we couldn’t find the parking lot, and almost missed opening credits. It’s behind the Thai Tida Restaurant but accessed via the side street before the eatery. Drive-in slowly, listen to the gravel crunch under your tires, watch out for (masked) people walking around. Park your car where you want. Get your tickets early; sometimes they sell out. 

This Saturday night’s show August 1 is Bohemian Rhapsody, for which Rami Malek won the Oscar as Queen frontman Freddie Mercury. We’ve seen it 3 or 4 times already, but we’ll probably be there anyway. The whole last chunk is essentially a concert film, with the actors as Queen, recreating Mercury’s phenomenal performance at Live Aid. And I’m always up to see that in a crowd. Bohemian Rhapsody, showered with praise and hardware at the Academy Awards, is in my opinion the vastly better film of two boffo blockbusters released within months of each other, Bohemian Rhapsody (released in U.S. February 2019) and Rocketman, released just three months later. Both are about meteoric but troubled British rock stars of the 1970s, Freddy Mercury in Bohemian, and Elton John, portrayed in Rocketman. Ironically both films were directed by English actor/director Dexter Fletcher (Eddie the Eagle), but that’s a story too. Fletcher was brought in to save Bohemian after director Bryan Singer (The Usual Suspects, various X-Men films) abandoned the film, halting an already messy production, but Singer retained his directing credit (Fletcher’s listed as a producer). Dexter Fletcher, king of the 1970s rock star biopic. 

Our newsletter delivers the local news that you can trust.

ACME Carpool Cinema’s show last week was Spike Lee’s masterpiece Do the Right Thing (DTRT) , about which the very best thing I’ve seen written - by the late, great Roger Ebert - is that this is the rare film about race that manages to show sympathy to all the participants. And, man, is DTRT fresh in this summer of George Floyd’s death and people taking to the streets across the country for #BlackLivesMatter. Lee’s story is about one explosive day and night in Brooklyn after the death of a young black man at the hands of a white policeman. How fresh is it? So fresh that Spike Lee released a one-and-a-half minute short linking the deaths of Radio Raheem (killed in his DTRT, with the deaths of Eric Garner (2014) and George Floyd (killed in May).  One thing I find links a lot of the films in this ACME summer series is music - including Bohemian Rhapsody’s tour of Queen hits, Do the Right Thing’s score composed by Spike Lee’s father, and Public Enemy’s raw and exciting Fight the Power, and the pastiche of anachronistic pop in the Nazi satire Jojo Rabbit, shown earlier this summer.

And that continues with next Saturday’s ACME choice, Purple Rain, which I haven’t seen since 1984. 

So, pack up your coconut seltzer (or whatever), your popcorn and sandwiches - or just order from the Thai joint steps away, put your sock feet up on the dashboard and take in Bohemian Rhapsody, an excellent film for a summer night in COVID America. Fireflies, Freddy Mercury, and temperatures finally below 90 degrees. Yay. 

IF YOU GO: 

Parking Lot Opens at 8pm. Live Music (blues artist Essie Riddle) 8:15-8:45 pm. Film at 9.

Note: Starting Sat. Aug. 8, the parking lot opens at 7:45pm. Live music 8-8:30pm. Film at 8:45 pm.

Tickets: $35/40 per car. To purchase tickets click here

Masks: Must be worn if you leave your car (no exceptions)

Bathroom: Available

Concessions: Bring your own. Or concessions available via Thai Tida of chicken, tofu, or pork satay, and drinks. Cash only. 

Find ACME Carpool Cinema: Behind the Spokesworks Building (204 N. Union St.)

Rosi & Joey @The Movies is sponsored by Flemington Car & Truck Country Family of Brands