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Westview Mall has been movie-less for around two years, so while it's always good news to see more movie screens in the area, it's even better to have movie options in the former environs of the defunct Westview Mall theaters, the original Westview Cinemas, and the approaching-mythic Edmondson Drive-in. So, already forming plans for future trips to the 40 West Double-T Diner and Han Ah Reum grocery store coupled with the viewing of a Major Motion Picture, we checked out March 5's pre-grand opening--the "soft opening," if you will--free preview of based-on-a-true-story and very English

The Bank Job

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at Diamond Cinemas Westview, owned by erstwhile MGM movie marketing Vice President Ira Miller and comic-book king and

Baltimore

magazine publisher Steve Geppi. The theater does not appear to have been extensively remodeled, but it is a tidy and respectable example of an old-school '90s multiplex. Our screening was in auditorium No. 4, and we plotzed into generic nonrocker, nonrecliner movie seats with cup holders and a wee bit less legroom than we'd prefer, but perfectly serviceable for 90 minutes or so. It was a low-key affair; Mr. Miller was in attendance, but no Geppi, no teevee cameras. That'll be tonight at the official Grand Opening. We checked our Journalistic Ethics at the door and enjoyed a dinner of "free small popcorn and drink" on the house. The crowd of around 150 people was peppered with the usual assortment of our fellow free-movie-pass moochers, such as that guy who always has a sheaf of papers on display like he's got important communications from Movie Headquarters, and our favorite former

Sun

movie guy ever, Lou Cedrone, the guy who used to employ the terms "oater" and "sciencer" in his write-ups. We wondered how he would have described the boobtastic opening sequence. Overall, the crowd was mostly Caucasian, lots of silver heads in general, and probably not the kind of crowd Magic 95.9 FM personality Mykel Hunter was addressing specifically when welcoming us to the show, but we agreed with her sentiments about how nice it was to have a theater back in The Community. At a climactic moment in the film, the projector experienced some sort of major light-bulb malfunction, and while the sound rolled on, the picture rapidly faded into chiaroscuro, and then darkness. The house lights remained off for a few disorienting moments, and then the guy from the movie marketing company, in true movie Action Hero form, bravely stumbled across seats and people through the darkness to get to the projection booth and save the day. We carefully read and fully understood all the "No recording of this motion picture" and "Anyone who uses a recording device during this screening will be subject to immediate removal, detention and civil and criminal prosecution" stuff on our movie pass from Lionsgate, so we took a picture of the auditorium right after the lights came up and the screening was, let's say, suspended. During the movie emergency we ran over to the snack bar with the idea of getting a refreshing beverage and stepping out for a cigarette. The crackly voiced dude behind the counter told us he couldn't dispense any Coke unless we had exact change since the registers were closed. All we had was a $20, so summoning up our best Nick Nolte from

Down and Out in Beverly Hills

, we begged, "C'mon, pal, just grab a cup and tap out a li'l splash for me--this is, like, an unusual situation." He finally offered a kiddie cup on the house, so that was nice, good Public Relations, Diamond Cinemas Westview! Outside smoking with some guys who looked like they woulda been happier at the

10,000 BC

screening at Muvico Egyptian 24--which was why the guy from the movie promo company figured the house was light--we commiserated on the crap-out and our Genuine Interest in finding out what was gonna happen next with Jason Statham and pouty-lipped Saffron Burrows in 1970s London. Back in auditorium No. 4, the crowd was ushered across the hall to another auditorium, and the film was on. Many still in attendance were peeved, and we heard more than one "I'm not coming back here" grumble--what: you mean for another free movie?--but then it was all smiles as everybody got hit with free movie ticket vouchers on the way out. An overheard woman's review of

The Bank Job

: "I'll go see it again--it was a good story, and everybody got their just desserts."

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