There’s a fascinating cover story in the current issue of LA Weekly titled State of the Art House. It explains why art house movie theaters, which show independent films, are doing poorly in the Los Angeles area. The Music Hall theater in Beverly Hills is about to close, and sadly it looks like the Sunset 5 theater (in the 8000 Sunset complex at Crescent Heights) will be not far behind.
Fortunately, there are still a few thriving indie theaters around – and the Weekly says that probably the two best theaters are right here in Melrose Village. They are the Cinefamily @ Silent Movie Theater (on Fairfax Avenue, one block south of Melrose) and the New Beverly Cinema (on Beverly Boulevard, two blocks west of La Brea).
Both have interesting stories. The Cinefamily @ Silent Movie Theater is run by a non-profit group, made up of dedicated film fanatics who volunteer their time to keep the place running. They show a very eclectic roster of movies, and have lots of unique special events. (A few months ago we went there to see a program of gay-themed cartoons, dated from the 1920s silent era, up through Bugs Bunny’s numerous cross-dressing escapades. Now, you wouldn’t see that at the multiplex at the mall….)
The New Beverly Cinema is a venerable revival movie theater that nearly went bankrupt a few years ago, but was saved by Quentin Tarantino, who had spent many evenings there before he became famous. Tarantino bought the theater and leases it for below-market rates, so that it can continue showing classic and cult movies. The theater has some midnight shows, and occasionally features live panels with well-known actors, writers, and directors.
If you haven’t been to these theaters, check them out. They are part of what makes our neighborhood so great.