Movies weren’t always like this. Now that we’re in college, many of us process the bulk of our entertainment in extra-long twin beds, eyes glued to paltry 15-inch Mac screens. Does it embarrass you that you watch television and movies in the same way your 15-year-old brother watches porn, without the obligatory self-gratification that makes the experience worthwhile? (Hint: It should.)
Consider this a wake-up call, friends. Hearken back to that golden age when movies were about popcorn, plush velvet seats and shameless necking. Look toward a weird, wonderful future of open mic comedy between showings, cocktail-stocked VIP lounges and incomprehensible art films. Here’s a list of highlights in the Chicago movie realm, so there’s a wealth of experiences at the ready — as long as you can find the energy to dust the cracker crumbs off your covers and put on some fucking pants.
Where to Bring the Bros | The Brew & View
It’s cheap — just $5 gets you a double or triple feature. It’s also interactive — go watch Grease and be prepared to dance. According to its website, it draws a “lubricated crowd.” The Brew & View, a sexy little cinematic offshoot of the Vic Theatre, offers underground and second-run cinema alongside copious amounts of pizza, drink specials and open mic comedy. Movies aside, it sounds like a damn good time. I’m just hoping that the “lubrication” to which the site refers is alcohol-based.
Best special event: This one’s a DIY — Brew & View does private bookings for up to 1,000 people. Just call (773) 929-6713, or email GM@brewview.com.
Where to Bring the Pretentiously Sexy RTVF Major | The Gene Siskel Film Center
The Gene Siskel Film Center is Chicago’s premiere cinematheque. If you’re intimidated by the word cinematheque, stay away. The Gene Siskel is notorious for screening the artsiest films it can get away with — and because it’s funded by the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, it can get away with a lot. If you can get excited about the German film El Bulli: Cooking in Progress, described as a “concentrated portrait … [of] the world’s foremost proponent of molecular gastronomy” and spoken in Catalan, then you’ll feel at home among the artistically over-evolved über-hipsters that flock to each obscure offering.
Best special event: Oscar Night America, Chicago’s only official Academy Awards party, held annually.
Where to “Treat Yourself” | The Patio Theater
The Patio Theater, located in northwest Chicago, boasts more than 85 years of family-run excellence. As good as it looks on paper, though, the Patio experience is not about the size of its screen — the largest single one in Chicago, according to its website — but the overall performance. Said performance includes $5 tickets for any age at any time, cheap popcorn and drinks ($5 for the combination, practically free when you consider the sky-high prices of the buckets they sell at AMC) and according to the website, “a simulated blue sky, flickering stars and moving clouds.” In case it all sounds too good to be true, though, the theater only shows one film at a time.
Best special event: None scheduled. However, there is a cloud projector for the twinkling star ceiling, a “special” touch that will make any Patio experience a memorable “event.”
Where to Go for Foreign Films and Fear-Mongering | The Music Box Theatre
It’s often called the premiere venue in Chicago for independent and foreign films. I guess that’s cool, if you’re too cultured for Alvin and the Chipmunks: the Squeakquel, but can’t quite grasp the merits of “chiaroscuroed film-noir visual style” (See Gene Siskel, above). What’s truly rad about the Music Box, apart from its name, is its resident ghost — “Whitey,” a neighborhood character and the Music Box’s manager for an astounding 48 years who died on a couch in the theatre and — according to legend — never left. Ooooh.
Best special event: the Music Box Massacre, a 24-hour horror movie marathon every October.
Where to Bring the Queen of Fucking England | ShowPlace ICON Theatre
The ShowPlace ICON is a yuppie’s dream. A catchy slogan informs us that we’re “redefining how movies should be watched.” What kind of urban glamour-seeker wouldn’t want to “redefine” something so thoroughly unpretentious as Beauty and the Beast 3D by getting a Freschetta pizza delivered directly to his or her assigned seat? If that’s not the definition of chic, then hit me over the head with GoogleDefine. And if assigned seats don’t cut it for you, just head on over to the 21+ VIP Reserved Assigned Seating section, where the landed gentry and nouveau riche alike can sip on expensive cocktails. Ah — to be young, in love and liberal with your parents’ emergency money.
Best special event: None. Evidently, this place is special enough on a daily basis (although you can do private parties, which, unless you’re Tom Hanks’ son, are financially out-of-your-league).