Critics share their favorite theaters and rental shops


Kathy Huffhines on the Star Theatre, Detroit:
It’s friendly, kicky, and cute and looks like a bright red-and-white jukebox from the outside. (Detroit Free Press)

John Hartl on the Cinerama, Seattle:
The Cinerama, a big, single-screen theater, has the best sight lines, projection, and sound in Seattle. (The Seattle Times)

Mike Clark on the American Film Institute Theater, Washington, D.C.:
The American Film Institute Theater at the Kennedy Center is intimate (224 seats), has perfect sight lines, and is the only theater where I’ve seen both Abel Gance’s Napoleon and a Green Acres retrospective. (USA Today)

Carrie Rickey on the Ritz at the Bourse and AMC Olde City, Philadelphia:
I’m torn between the Ritz, a five-plex art house that features many independent films, appropriately located within spitting distance of Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell, and the AMC Olde City, which overlooks the Delaware River and has big screens and a wonderful staff. (The Philadelphia Inquirer)

David Kronke on the Texas Theater, Dallas:
It’s where they captured Lee Harvey Oswald. I love the tacky paintings of JFK on the stucco walls. It’s currently being renovated, though. (Dallas Times Herald)

Kenneth Turan on the AMC Century 14, Los Angeles:
It’s the only multiplex I’ve ever loved. It’s laid out in such a way that it manages to feel spacious and to convey the excitement that I feel should be part of the moviegoing experience. (Los Angeles Times)

Eleanor Ringel on the Garden Hills Cinema, Atlanta:
Because it’s got history and character, because it plays films like The Nasty Girl and La Femme Nikita, and because I went there as a little girl. (The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Peter Travers on the Ziegfeld Theater, New York City:
It’s one of the few venues left that can show an epic like Lawrence of Arabia in revival as it was meant to be shown. It stands as a rebuke to all of the multiplexes out there. (Rolling Stone)

Jay Carr on the Brattle Theatre and the Coolidge Corner Theatre, Boston area:
It’s a dead heat between the Brattle Theatre in Cambridge and the Coolidge Corner Theatre in Brookline. They’re both old movie houses lovingly restored that allow you to commune with the ghosts of your younger self. (The Boston Globe)

Jeff Strickler on the Uptown, Minneapolis:
In an era of stamped-out clone theaters, the Uptown has a personality of its own. It’s an old-fashioned movie palace built in the ’30s with a full-size balcony and murals on the walls. (Star Tribune)


Malcolm Johnson on Video Visions of Storrs, Conn.:
They have a decent collection with good foreign films. They are near a college so they have a category called ”Relationships,” where they shelve videos like When Harry Met Sally (The Hartford Courant)

Bruce Westbrook on Audio/Video Plus, Houston:
A good store. I was looking for old Outer Limits episodes the other day, and I could almost expect to find it there without calling. They keep a big inventory, with a lot of 8-mm videos and laserdiscs. (Houston Chronicle)

Rita Kempley on Video Vault, Washington, D.C.:
I love Video Vault in Georgetown because it’s wonderful and courteous and carries all sorts of bizarre Italian neorealism films and lots of old TV shows. (The Washington Post)

Charles Taylor on Hollywood Express, Cambridge, Mass.:
It has the widest selection of anything in the area, with both popular and obscure titles, including some fairly outré things like the Maysles brothers’ documentary on Christo. (Boston Phoenix)

Rick Harmon on Phar-Mor, Montgomery, Ala.:
Phar-Mor, a discount warehouse-type store, is irresistible because it’s incredibly cheap: For $1.50, you get three tapes for two nights! People with shopping carts come and rent [lots of] movies at a time. They carry truly bad films from the ’40s and ’50s, and some of the worst horror films ever made. It’s lots of fun. (The Montgomery Advertiser)

Richard Schickel on Video West and Vidiots, Los Angeles area:
For a neighborhood store, Video West in West Hollywood has an extraordinarily good collection of older movies and documentaries. The other real specialty store is Vidiots in Santa Monica, which has things nobody else does. I was surprised to find Mister Winkle Goes to War there when I was working on a book about World War II. (Time)

Robert Butler on Tivoli Video, Kansas City:
My favorite has to be Tivoli Video in Kansas City’s Westport neighborhood. Where else could you find all the Fassbinder films? You can walk into the store and not think your intelligence is insulted — there’s no Steven Seagal at this place. (The Kansas City Star)

Terry Orme on Avalon Video, Salt Lake City:
As far as American classics go, there is no comparison to Avalon Video in Salt Lake City’s main business district. It’s run by an incredible film buff who is very knowledgeable and gives you personal attention. (The Salt Lake Tribune)

Andrew Sarris on the International Film and Video Center, New York City:
The International Film and Video Center has over 10,000 titles catalogued by director, and the store is very strong on foreign films. They also carry a lot of erotic titles; disgustingly erotic tapes are easy enough to find these days, but it’s hard to find things that are tastefully, artistically erotic. (The New York Observer)

Bill Cosford on the Video Cassette Club, Miami:
The store is perfect for finding obscure foreign titles, like the 1966 Czech film Closely Watched Trains. People don’t ordinarily stock 25-year-old Czech political satires, but these guys actually do. (The Miami Herald)

reporting by Christopher Henrikson and Taehee Kim