Greg Younger is a bit of a Renaissance man, with talents ranging from his piano-playing skills in local bands of the past to his willingness to compete in beard-growing contests.
But it’s his abilities as a projector technician and audio savant that help him most as the longtime theater manager at Circle Cinema.
This is a man who takes movies seriously, which is what you want from the person who ensures that each screening goes off without a hitch.
But his sense of humor is unmistakable, as seen in his answer to what movie from his past would he like to see again on the big screen.
“A few years ago, I pitched the idea of playing Burt Reynolds’ film ‘Hooper’ five times, back-to-back, as a marathon. It was to be an endurance test called ‘Burt Till it Hurts,’ ” Younger said with a straight face.
“Whoever made it to the end would receive a prize. Maybe a fake moustache or something. Sadly, the concept was met with raised eyebrows.”
For this recurring series of stories, we asked Younger about all of his movie favorites, and that sense of humor made several answers entertaining.
What is your favorite movie of all time and why?
My favorite has shifted over the years, but I keep coming back to “Withnail and I” from 1987, a solid character-driven comedy about two flawed and desperate individuals. What’s not to like? It also introduces the world to recent Academy Award-nominee Richard E. Grant.
What is the funniest movie you’ve ever seen and why?
I’ve never laughed harder than at a screening of “Tropic Thunder.” I mean, tears. There’s no fat on that film. Every character and every line is lean comedy. There were some risks taken with that movie that could have derailed it into deeply offensive territory, but instead, it tiptoed the line of political correctness in a way that I don’t think we’re likely to see again. Tom Cruise’s character of Les Grossman (just) made the movie.
What is the movie that scared you and why?
The classic “jump-out-gotcha-I-was-in-the-closet-this-whole-time” doesn’t scare me. Gory slashers don’t scare. What scares me is eerie, like when the hair on your arms stands up and primal fight-or-flight feelings get into the mix. Supernatural uncertainty is terrifying. The first time I experienced this was John Carpenter’s “The Prince of Darkness.”
What is the movie that makes you cry and why?
I can barely say the words “E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial” without getting a little blubbery. At that time, at that age, boys didn’t cry at movies — they just didn’t. There were rules. You’d discreetly wipe away a rogue tear when nobody was looking. “E.T.” changed all of that. Everyone cried at “E.T.” and to not cry meant that you were more Vulcan than human. In more modern times, the French film “The Intouchables” hit me on a Freudian level, and I openly sobbed just this side of blowing a snot-bubble. Hollywood just remade that beautiful film (as “The Upside”). Mr. Younger will not be in attendance.
What’s the best movie you’ve seen this year and why?
It’s still pretty early in the year, but as of now, I’d have to say the documentary “Apollo 11” was thrilling. It felt more like an action film and was suspenseful despite already knowing the outcome. Wonderful film.
What is your favorite movie experience, maybe one you saw as a kid, or with friends in summer, or a midnight movie, and what made it so special?
In 1991, I was lucky enough to catch the last picture ever shown at the Belle Meade Theatre in Nashville. The theater was a whopping 800-seat Streamline Moderne-style beauty built in the 1940s. With me that day was my good friend and owner of the Admiral Twin Drive-In, Blake Smith. The 70mm film presentation of “Lawrence of Arabia” was awe-inspiring and helped solidify our lifelong appreciation of this wonderful art form.
At the theater: Where do you prefer to sit, and what are your refreshments of choice?
Here’s a little insider information: When a projector technician sets the equalizer settings and sound levels, he puts the test microphone two-thirds the distance from the screen, dead-center of the aisle. That’s the sonic sweet-spot, and if you can get there, you’ll be experiencing optimum sound from the speakers behind the screen, as well as the surround speakers throughout. Snacks? Circle Cinema has the best popcorn in the known universe. Enough said.
Is there a director whose films you like so much that you will see any movie that they make?
Ron Howard. I’ll go anywhere he leads, and whenever we go, I’ll be bringing a box of tissues. Man, can he ever pull on the heartstrings as a craftsman storyteller. That’s what movies are about at the end of the day. We want to be told a story that opens us up and makes us see life a little differently.