Thursday, July 1, 2010

Thursday Theatre Review: Village East Cinema

Weekly to a new feature here at Movies with Abe, Thursday Theatre Review. As a resident of one of the world’s foremost movie capitals, I’ve been to a number of movie theatres in New York City and have developed preferences. There’s no perfect theatre, but there are a few things that can make or break a movie-going experience. In no particular order, this is a guide to movie theatres in Manhattan.

Village East Cinema

Location: At 181 – 189 Second Avenue in between 11th and 12th St, it’s not the most accessible location, but it’s hardly a bad one. It’s about a ten- to fifteen-minute walk from Union Square, and it’s right next door to a great vegan/vegetarian/Kosher pizza place called Viva Herbal Pizzeria.

Pricing: Tickets have gone up to $13.00 a pop, but if you’re a student, head to the theatre anytime on Tuesday to receive a ticket and a free popcorn for only $7. City Cinemas Screen Saver Tickets are also accepted two weeks after a film has opened.

Film selection: An interesting combination of mainstream and independent fare. Many of the films from sister cinema Angelika Film Center spill over to the Village East Cinema after a couple of weeks, and some even premiere exclusively at the Village East Cinema. I once saw “Marie Antoinette” and “Borat” (on opening day) on the same day here. Currently, the assortment includes popular fare – “Toy Story 3” (in both 2-D and 3-D) and “Jonah Hex” – as well as indie films “City Island,” “Solitary Man,” and “Let It Rain.”

Drawbacks: The doors to most of the auditoriums are located right next to the screen, so if you’re late to the movie, everyone will see you come in. For those who make it on time, the visible air conditioning units hanging from the ceiling often don’t work too well. And unlike the Angelika Film Center, where I’ve used Screen Saver Tickets on opening day at least a dozen times, this theatre tends to be strict about the ten-day waiting period.

Bonus features: If you get lucky, you’ll have a completely different experience devoid of the negatives described above. One of the giant auditoriums used to be a Yiddish theater, and seeing a movie there is quite a treat. Even though I didn’t like “Becoming Jane,” seeing it in this auditorium was great.

Worth the trip? Depends. The selection can be hit or miss, but movies are often playing much longer at this theatre than they are at others, especially the independent ones. It’s not a bad schlep to the theatre and it’s a nice neighborhood that you might otherwise not find yourself visiting, and likely worthwhile to catch a good flick.

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