Wednesday, January 4, 2012

My Favorite Movie Theaters

Mayfair Curzon Cinemas in London
Last night watching These Amazing Shadows on Independent Lens via KQED in San Francisco I was struck by how washed out the images of our interview subjects looked on my television. We took great care in the shooting and color correction of those images - but we don't always have control of what happens to our doc after it leaves our hands. Every theater screening, television broadcast and DVD/Blu-ray viewing looks different. It makes me think how precious it is to have an experience watching a film in a movie theater that cares about the projection and sound quality. Here are a couple of my favorite movie theaters:

1) ArcLight Cinemas, 6360 W. Sunset Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90028
At the ArcLight I recently saw a film that I really didn't care that much for (Columbiana), but the crisp picture, rich sound, comfortable seats and good candy (chocolate almonds) made for a great experience. I just kept saying to myself, "What a beautiful picture!" (I do like Zoe Saldana so as TAS interview subject Wayne Wang says, "That helpled.") I would go see anything at that theater - the worst movie you can think of - I'm in.

2) Curzon Mayfair, 38 Curzon Street, London W1J 7TY
The Curzon Mayfair is 75 years old and is one of London's original art-house cinemas. Their distinction as the first London theater to import and screen foreign language films beginning with Max Ophuls' La Ronde (one of my favorites - the camera work by Christian Matras is beyond amazing) tells you how long they have been committed to providing a great cinematic experience. I saw The Young Victoria there and although it is not a particularly outstanding film I thoroughly enjoyed the experience. Like the ArcLight, the Curzon Mayfair has a spectacular projection and sound system, very comfortable seats, perfect screen size and great candy (Galaxy Bar). What added to that particular screening was the older British audience that thrilled to the story of young Queen Victoria. I felt like I was having a true cultural experience (and, yes, Emily Blunt helped).

Photo by Tom Kessler
3) Ruth Sokolof Theater, 1340 Mike Fahay Street, Omaha, Nebraska
I've never been to the Ruth Sokolof Theater, but greatly admire everything about the vibe of this theater run by Film Streams, a non-profit organization "dedicated to enhancing the cultural environment in the Omaha-Council Bluffs area through the presentation of film as an art form." What a mission! Check out their website: Film Streams

What theater(s) do you love? Why?

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