• Leslie Cheung, right, wearing old flannel in Happy Together

Have you ever walked past a group of young adults sitting on a busy sidewalk, dressed in rags, looking (and usually smelling) unwashed, and weren’t sure whether they were homeless or just art students? This happens to me whenever there’s nice weather in Chicago, as the Gene Siskel Film Center is next to the dorms of the School of the Art Institute. And I’m relieved whenever I see one of those kids enter the theater—it means they probably aren’t struggling with homelessness.

Then again, homeless people love the movies too, though they tend to go most often when the weather is bad. I learned this first-hand from a regular at the soup kitchen where I volunteered in the second half of 2005 (Wedding Crashers had come out during a heat wave, I remember, and he’d seen it several times in its first week); during a stint of unemployment the following winter, I spotted a few homeless regulars at most of the weekday matinees I attended. At a screening of Terrence Malick’s The New World, I was a few seats away from a jittery old man who sat with a bag of old newspaper on his lap and spent much of the movie muttering to himself. Roughly ten minutes into the film, he urinated in the aisle. I still don’t know if this was because he hated The New World or because he liked it so much he didn’t want to leave the auditorium.