05 February 2010

Rainy Day at the Movies Part 1

A rainy day in Los Angeles is the perfect time to explore its many film-related gems. This three-part series will do just that, covering outstanding independent theaters, historic landmarks dating back to the Hollywood Golden Age, local film festivals and screening events, and a profile of a seasoned actor who's created a community of filmmakers online.

First, some local plugs:
  • ZUMA VIDEO & MUSIC While I do enjoy the instant watch feature of Netflix, nothing quite compares to roaming the aisles of a physical video store, scanning the covers for interesting titles and graphics, and engaging in a little people-watching while stumbling across long-forgotten favorites. Not a bad place to pop into for some cinematic fare while waiting for your order from Point Pizza.
  • MALIBU CINEMAS This two-screen theater is right in the hub of the Cross Creek shopping center, often a site for local film star run-ins, and one of the few purveyors of out-of-this-world Malibu Toffee
  • MALIBU FILM FESTIVAL Founded by David Katz, this showcase of international film from cutting-edge independent filmmakers is world-famous. The 11th edition of the festival is currently accepting film entries online.

Exceptional Independent Theaters
  • The Laemmle Theater in Santa Monica always screens great independent art films. Right now it's showing A Single Man  (directed by fashion designer Tom Ford) and An Education, both of which I want to see! There are other Laemmles around town, too.
  • The American Cinematique, a non-profit, has two venues - The Aero Theater in Santa Monica and The Egyptian Theater in Hollywood. They produce a fantastic programming line-up, often with double-features and themed screening events. Two of the best places to see classic film on the big screen! Sign up for their newsletter to stay in the know. Volunteer opportunities, too.
  • Cinefamily at the Silent Movie Theater - My friend introduced me to this historic site, home of the only silent movie theater in America still in operation. The first Wednesday of every month (as well as random Sundays) feature silent films and shorts, complete with live musical accompaniment! The whole experience is a hoot: the guy who plays the organ has been playing for about 80 years running, though his deft and expressive fingers don't show any signs of slowing! In addition to silent films, Cinefamily screens all kinds of weird and wacky films. Double feature Fridays and animation Tuesdays are other calendar highlights. Their website features a great collection of silent film excerpts for your YouTubing pleasure, with a bit of insightful background about each upcoming film.

  • ArcLight Theater at the Cinerama Dome - No list of cinemas in Los Angeles would be complete without mentioning the ArcLight. The ArcLight is like the Rolls Royce of movie theaters. You walk in, you're impressed by the vastness of the "departure board" and its offerings, buy your ticket and select your seat (if you haven't already done so online), do a little pre-movie shopping in the bookshop, have a bit of wine in the bar, and then settle into a plush seat in an immaculate theater. Then your host greets you and stays in the theater to ensure a "perfect" movie-going experience. They take this experience very seriously, and even have a specifically designated website to point out all the unique features of an ArcLight visit. Pricey, but worth it. This particular location (there's another one in Sherman Oaks) utilizes the iconic 1963 geodesic Cinerama Dome, which, with its ultra-wide screen and domed ceiling, makes movie-going here an event.


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