Monday, September 13, 2010

In the Mood for Love

In the Mood for Love
first seen @ Angelika Film Center, New York, NY

I've been to lots of other art-house theaters in New York and beyond, but the Angelika Film Center is where I got an education on independent film, particularly during the mid-to-late 90s. I first heard about the place through an article in the paper about it. I remember thinking at the time how novel it seemed that a movie theater would also double as an upscale cafe (even though I rarely partake of it). I was working in video retail at this time, and I had taken it upon myself to attempt to learn as much as I could about film. Part of that, I knew, would inevitably include indy and foreign cinema, since our store was well-stocked in those kinds of films.

The Angelika always seemed a cut above most movie houses, especially in the first few years I started going there. It's not an old-school palace; it's relatively small, but the flight of stairs leading up to the box office gives it a slight sense of grandeur, I've always thought. The cafe is to the right as one enters, and the screening rooms are downstairs, where popcorn and other snacks are sold.

Long lines for opening-weekend shows are common - and you never know who you'll see there. When I saw In the Mood for Love opening night, there was the usual line wrapped around the center of the lobby - and who should be standing right behind me, happily chatting with a friend, but Oscar-winning actress Frances McDormand! (It's a cliche, but it's true: she's shorter than I thought she'd be.)

Perhaps the biggest drawback to the Angelika is the one everyone always brings up: the rumble of the subway can be heard and felt while you're watching a movie. It can be annoying at times, but after awhile you get used to it. Anyway, it's not as loud as you'd think, and I don't see what they could do about it, so one has no choice but to accept it. I can't recall ever letting the muffled sound of the subway interfere with my movie-watching experience.

The Angelika is, of course, one of many art-house theaters in the Greenwich Village-SoHo area of Manhattan, and I consider myself fortunate to have gone to all of them at one time or another. In recent years, they've raised their ticket prices, as have theaters everywhere, which led me to the Kew Gardens Cinemas in Queens (where I saw Get Low). Of course, the trade-off means a longer wait for a cheaper ticket, but I can live with that. I've patronized the Angelika less, but I would never abandon it altogether. I've had too many good times there.

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