At The Admiral - '10 MPH' across America starts in West Seattle

The sight of a Segway scooter (that nifty two-wheel electric vehicle that balances itself) humming along Alki isn't particularly newsworthy, but the fact that one kept going until it reached Boston is.

On August 4 the Admiral Theatre was host to a special showing of the documentary "10 MPH." The event, which featured an appearance by the filmmakers, is part of a spate of new offerings that promises a renaissance of sorts for the Admiral.

Boasting a title that is exquisitely descriptive, not only of the cruising speed of a Segway scooter, but the languid sensibility of this offbeat film, "10 MPH" chronicles the journey of a restless band of twenty-somethings from the stifling cubicles of their corporate jobs to the freedom of the open road - powered by the soft hum of the Segway's electric motor.

It's a slow journey, to be sure, as the film crew and their Segway driver (Hunter Weeks) strike out from Seacrest Park on Harbor Avenue under overcast skies. The Segway moves with an almost meditative grace as SUVs and Harleys race by and you wonder, for a moment, if you won't be tempted to nod off before the Atlantic coast comes into view. But "10 MPH" has a seductive vitality about it - the last fit of reckless abandon of a disappearing youth.

Documentaries have staged a comeback in recent years. They're generally politically charged forays into the troubling issues of our times. "10 MPH" heads off in another direction, taking us, regardless of age, on a sentimental journey to the cusp of adulthood when a sense of adventure was still an important virtue.

Director Josh Caldwell uses Weeks and his Segway as a conversation starter with the people they meet along the way. Sometimes they simply score an invitation to dinner at a family home, other times they unearth a personal passion in a profession or hobby that helps keep life vivid.

This film is part portrait of America and part road trip. Smart, inquisitive, and at times wonderfully impractical, Caldwell, Weeks, and crew make for good company as they schmoose and bicker their way across the heartland. They are also savvy storytellers using the Segway's snail-like pace as a witty counterpoint to the hyped-up rhythms of American life.

Unfortunately, "10 MPH" may never make it to general release in the Seattle area, but the good news is that Blockbuster.com has promised to pick it up. If you ever have an evening where you're looking for something to cheer you up, this movie is long on charm.

And here's more good news. "10 MPH" is just one of many new offerings The Admiral's management has in store. The theater is being remodeled to accommodate the staging of live performances. The Admiral is negotiating to bring both The Smothers Brothers and B.B. King to West Seattle in 2008.

For cinemaphiles looking for an alternative to reading the paper on Sunday mornings, The Admiral now offers Sunday Morning Classics.

If you're in the mood for a night on the town, The Admiral has partnered with Blackbird Bistro and Mission to offer a dinner-and-a-movie package.

As most teenagers are probably aware, The Admiral sports a healthy midnight movie series featuring regular showings of "The Rocky Horror Picture Show."

Finally, a piece of news that should raise a few cheers from West Seattle film buffs: The Admiral is negotiating to be part of the Seattle International Film Festival next year.

Bruce Bulloch may be reached via wseditor@robinsonnews.com

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