weather is dreary and damp, sometimes nothing is better than
huddling in a dark theater in front of the silver screen with an
extra large bucket of buttery popcorn. Multi-plex cinemas screening
big-budget Hollywood movies abound in Boston. But if you're the kind
of movie buff who prefers re-living classic black and white movies
from the early days of film, or would rather see Boston-faves Matt
Damon and Ben Affleck in a low-budget Gus Van Sant picture like Good
Will Hunting over testosterone-driven action flicks like Bourne
Identity and Daredevil, the independent film scene might be just
what you're looking for. The following are the best places for indie
flick fans to satisfy their celluloid appetites.
ART HOUSE ANTEDILUVIANS
Two of the local veteran art-houses, The Brattle Theatre in Cambridge and the Coolidge Corner Theatre in Brookline, top our list of theaters catering to the independent crowd. The Brattle (40 Brattle St., Harvard Square, 617-876-6838), a prominent landmark amidst the cultural hubbub of Harvard Square, warmly welcomes the savvy Cambridge crowd of academics and intellectuals and is known for showing classic films on the big screen, such as Lawrence of Arabia playing April 11-13. Monday nights remain dedicated to showing film noir, part of the theater's ongoing mission to showcase films and directors that they feel deserve a nudge back into the spotlight. If you're still not convinced this theater's worth checking out, we've heard the Brattle's popcorn is top of the line. Now there's news to make any true theatergoer excited!
A stone's throw from the Coolidge Corner stop on the MBTA's Green
Line is another well-known art house, the Coolidge Corner Theatre
(290 Harvard Ave., Brookline, 617-734-2501). The Coolidge (graced
with an eye-catching new neon marquee) is well known among the hip
twenty-something crowd, largely due to the theater's goal of pushing
the boundaries of how film is defined. Spike and Mike's Sick and
Twisted Festival of Animation, the birthplace of irreverent adult
cartoon classics like "Beavis and Butthead" and "South Park," begins
April 4 and runs through the week. Midnight movies, a theatre
tradition celebrated by college students and insomniacs alike, are
screened every weekend at midnight. Midnight shows during the month
of April are tied to the animation festival, for anyone who loves
some good, late-night laughter.
In a city with as many schools and museums as Boston, it comes as no surprise that two of the best-known contenders in both categories, Harvard University and the Museum of Fine Arts, have their own venues dedicated to independent and foreign film.
Supplement a day gazing at masterworks on the wall by checking out some fine art on the big screen. The Museum of Fine Arts Film Program (465 Huntington Ave., 617-267-9300) moves beyond Hollywood productions by featuring imports and local works along with playing host to numerous film festivals like the upcoming "Words on Fire" being curated by the Boston Jewish Film Festival. "Words on Fire" marks the 75th anniversary of the Nazi book burning and includes Charlie Chaplin's The Great Dictator, a critical look at Hitler made before the U.S. had committed to World War II, screening April 12 for only the second time ever on American soil.
If you've ever wondered what students at one of the nation's most
elite and competitive universities do with their spare time, one
visit to Harvard University's Harvard Film Archive (Carpenter Center
for the Visual Arts, 24 Quincy St., Harvard Square, 617-495-4700)
will show you-they watch movies! Fortunately you don't have to be a
smarty pants to enjoy the films: The theater is open to the public
and is the place to enjoy an intellectual movie experience. The Film
Archive likes to bring in directors whenever possible to answer
viewers questions, which it does April 11 when German director
Reinhard Hauff screens his films Stammheim and Knife in the Head as
part of a series focusing on German cinema.
THE MULTIPLEX MIRAMAX CROWD
Today, low-budget doesn't always mean no box office (can you say My Big Fat Greek Wedding?), and the corporate multi-plexes are well aware of this. Looking to cash in on such indie success stories as Greek Wedding and last year's Amelie, Landmark Cinemas and Loews operate a new breed of art house in Boston. These venues are often state-of-the-art, boast several screens and offer concessions like espresso and baked goods.
Landmark's Kendall Square Cinema (One Kendall Square, Cambridge,
617-494-9800) offers nine screens of the "must see" independent
films of the day in an architecturally intriguing theater with a
facade reminiscent of '50s-era marquees. Now playing are Oscar
winners The Pianist, Talk to Her and Bowling for Columbine. The more
conveniently located, albeit considerably more dowdy, Loews Copley
Place (100 Huntington Ave., 617-266-1300) offers 12 smaller screens
of similar art house films, along with family-friendly flicks like
Piglet's Big Movie.
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