Monday, October 11, 2004

Interesting Cinemas...

This weekend, we went to see Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow at the Highlands Cinema in rural Kinmount Ontario. The motto of the theatre is "You remember not only the movie, but the theatre." And it is true. Easily the best place that I've seen a movie. The owner Keith Strata turned his house into a movie theatre, then started adding screens and memorabelia until he had a mounted a 5 screen multiplex in a town of 300 people (Trivia: Most theatre screens per capita in North America, he could pack the entire town several times over into his place). He has hundreds (yes hundreds of 8, 16 and 35mm projectors as well as countless movie posters, lobby cards, images of famous cinemas, props, even shipping cases for the film reels (one that stands out has the 2001: A Space Odyssey emblazoned on the side). All of the screens are decorated differently, with one with classic posters one art deco, one looks like a typical multiplex auditorium. The seats are all top quality seats taken from prestige movie houses that have been tragically demolished. The museum stuff which lines all the corridores between the screens is the central attraction for me, becuase it has to be one of the largest private collections in the world (I'm not exaggerating, seriously!), but for anyone looking for a film going experience like that of a bygone age (classic candy: liquorish whips!) with no Toyota advertisements, previews or Reward Club promos, the feature just starts when the lights go down, this is the place.

At the risk of sounding like a bad travel guide, this post is a (very) small spotlight on some of the more interesting places to see a movie away from the big chains (Cineplex, Famous Players, AMC, Alliance Cinemas) in the city:

Reg Hartt presents: (aka Cineforum)
There is nothing like an extreme liberal rant prior to sitting down to watching classic and/or banned Cartoons and animated shorts. Reg delivers whatever is on his mind from childhood experiences (and it ain't PG-13) to film history, he keeps talking even to the point of stopping his 16mm projector in the middle of some of these showings to make a comment or two. You are watching whatever he shows (or he may decide at the last minute he isn't showing) in his library/livingroom of his townhouse at Bloor and Bathurst St. in Toronto. He likes to screen old stuff, from D.W. Griffith's silent cinema to Triumph of the Will, the Leni Reifenstahl propaganda piece from the 1930s. But he is famous for his banned cartoon festivals. Just don't talk back to the man in the middle of his rants, he is libel to boot you out of his place for breaking his train of thought. On the plus side, he encourages you to go across the road to the liquor store and grab a bottle of wine, "pretend you're at a theatre in Europe".

The Princess Cinema:
There is a special place in my heart for the Princess Theatre in Waterloo from my University days. I lived right next the place for a couple years and spent many, many evenings there. The special stale paper/urine smell of the place combined with its mix of locals, film junkies and homosexuals i recall vividly. They had this print of Baraka which they screened there so many times, that it was not uncommon for it to break in the middle of a showing and have to be spliced on the fly. During the years between 1993 and 1998 when I lived in Waterloo, they used to screen 50% new art/indie films and 50% cult/classic/special interest films which was a nice blend and always provided wall paper for my room courtesy of their monthly film schedule-calander.

The 5 Drive-in:

This place is fills up fast in the summer, as they are a drive-in 3-plex in Oakville. We've never made it into a show, so I cannot speak for the experience directly. However, I drive down 9th line a lot at night in the summer on my way home and always catch a few seconds of whatever feature faces the roadway. Damn if that isn't a sharp picture for a drive-in screen. Plus, with the dwindling number of drive-ins left in Ontario (what are there, like 10 left in the provice, if that...), go now before they are all gone.


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