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A movie theater in a class of its own - Review by cat c | Harvard Exit

Harvard Exit

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A movie theater in a class of its own 1/3/2007

This former Women's Century Club was the first or second art film house to open in Seattle, a distinction it shares with the Grand Illusion in the U. District). (My sister was one of the first ushers here before she matriculated at Brown; she loved working there). The Harvard Exit opened in ca. 1970. It was purchased eventually by the Landmark Theatre group but still operates mostly the way it has since its inception, with the addition of another movie screen. In some ways comparable is the Seven Gables (also in the U. District), but I find the screen similar to a long train car: viewing movies there is like sitting in a tunnel and watching images flickering at the far end,,, It is probably my favorite movie theater in Seattle for several reasons: (1) the wonderful "living-room" style lobby with its early-mid 20th c. furniture and furnishings, all comfy; large windows with Venetian blinds, looking out across Roy to the the D.A.R. and Anhalt cottages. Most movie theaters do NOT have a lobby/parlor of this kind. Once the movie gets out, YOU get out, too, simply because there is NOWHERE to linger--unless your idea of a good place to talk about the movie and to relax is to be next or across from a wall of pinball machines. (2) the quality programming (which currently includes the film version of "The History Boys" and "The Queen," both outstanding British releases. One of the first and most memorable movie moments when I saw Bernardo Bertolucci's "The Conformist" with Jean Louis-Trintignant and Dominque Sanda when it opened the flood of art house, foreign film that began at that time (at least for me) and led to the independent films that seem to carved a large niche of movie-going today. I can't count the number of fine films I have seen here that would never have been shown at the multiplex. The only regret that I have is that the refreshment stand has been moved from the entrance lobby into the living room, as the staff tends to be pretty obstreperous (loud) and not really aware of the space. That said, I enjoy spending a half an hour after a movie is over on a rainy afternoon and enjoying some moments of serenity--it sure beats Starbuck's in my opinion. Let's hope, perhaps against all odds, that the building is not demolished soon and a 6-story retail-with-condos-above or a multiplex cinema doesn't take its place. more
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