Bijou by the Bay Grand Opening: A Spectacular Affair

Bijou by the Bay Marquee

The Bijou by the Bay Grand Opening was held tonight, and it was definitely what you’d call a spectacular affair – not only because “The Spectacular Now” was the film that screened, but also because it’s just so cool to see the historical Con Foster Museum transformed into a hidden gem of a movie theater, to be open year-round.

Bijou by the Bay: Michael Moore

Michael Moore greets guests at the Bijou by the Bay Grand Opening | Jane Boursaw Photo

As folks filed into the building, you could hear the delight in their voices at seeing the new theater – which Thom Darga and his crew worked like crazy to finish in time – and settle into the plush blue seats. These are just like the State Theatre seats, only blue, to match the beach theme of the Bijou by the Bay.

The murals by Glenn Wolff and Rufus Snoddy are simply gorgeous, depicting the Traverse City landscape and seascape in all its glory. In fact, those in attendance tonight were witness to the “signing of the murals” by Glenn and Rufus. Very cool, and you just knew that this is something you’d look back on with reverence.

Bijou by the Bay: Billy Strings, Don Julin

Billy Strings and Don Julin got the audience jazzed before the film | Jane Boursaw Photo

Billy Strings and Don Julin provided rousing music to get things started, and the Laurie Sears Quartet created a jazzy ambience at the afterparty, held on the beach next to the theater.

The food was also “spectacular,” with a fantastic feast provided by The Cooks’ House, Grand Traverse Distillery, Chateau Grand Traverse and H. Cox and Son.

A highlight was the most adorable cupcake display I’ve ever seen, created by Cakes by Lori Kirk. Surrounding an amazingly detailed cake depicting the Bijou by the Bay was a table full of cupcakes dotted with “popcorn kernels” on the top.

Bijou by the Bay: Cakes by Lori Kirk

An adorable cupcake display from Cakes by Lori Kirk | Jane Boursaw Photo

The event was sponsored by celebrity chef Mario Batali and Susi Cahn, so you know that great care went into every culinary detail.

Bijou by the Bay: The Cooks' House

A fabulous culinary spread by The Cooks’ House | Jane Boursaw Photo

Before the movie screened, film festival executive director Deb Lake spoke, thanking everyone for their hard work in making it all come together at light-speed. Film fest founder Michael Moore also spoke, noting that this year’s 9th Annual Traverse City Film Festival is dedicated to Michigan’s First Lady Helen Milliken, who passed away last year, and Bryan Crough, who died unexpectedly just a few weeks ago.

Both have been champions of the film festival and Traverse City area, and the audience cheered when Michael introduced Helen’s husband, Gov. William Milliken, in attendance tonight.

The Spectacular NowAs for “The Spectacular Now,” it’s a film that has roots firmly planted in the garden of John Hughes and Cameron Crowe. The story follows high school senior Sutter Keely (Miles Teller; also look for him in the upcoming buzzed-about “Divergent”), a hard-partying high school senior who works at a men’s clothing store and has no particular plans for the future. That is, until he gets drunk one night and wakes up on a lawn with Aimee Finicky (the wonderful Shailene Woodley) hovering over him.

Aimee’s got her own family issues, but Sutter helps her build up the courage (in a very funny scene) to tell her mom she’s going to college, and she helps him build up the courage to ask his mom for his absentee-dad’s (Kyle Chandler) phone number – and then go along to meet him. It’s an eye-opening and life-changing experience for Sutter.

Directed by James Ponsoldt and adapted from a novel by Tim Tharp, “The Spectacular Now” opens wide in theaters Aug. 2, 2013. It has a “(500) Days of Summer” vibe, which is no surprise, since it was penned by the same writers.

Check it out. No one phones it in for this movie, and you’ll be glad you saw it.

Bijou by the Bay: Mario Batali

Mario Batali is in the house! | Jane Boursaw Photo