Boston’s Independent Movie Theaters

When I was in my sophomore/junior year of high school, I wasn’t exactly partying it up. No Texts From Last Night hijinks for me. Not even on par with those wacky Degrassi canadians with their teen pregnancies and their 100% intense drama. I wasn’t part of the group of kids from my all-girls prep school that drank and let boys stick their boy parts wherever they wanted.

Nope. What I did was go to midnight movies. That was my entertainment. My friends and I would check the movie listings at the Coolidge Corner Movie Theater every week to see if something racy was playing, and then sit in the dark watching Donnie Darko or Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas and wondering why we weren’t shotgunning beers in someone’s basement.

I loved those midnight movies. It was like belonging to a community of cult-movie fans who all looked a little like Tom Waits and knew all the words to Repo Man. So it’s with a healthy dose of nostalgia that I present to you my top picks for best indie movie house in the Boston area.

5. The Somerville Theater

Would you like a beer with that movie?


All I have to do is mention that this theater serves beer and wine as well as lindt chocolate bars and the usual movie theater crap candy. Sold yet? It also has live shows (I saw The Flaming Lips there when I was 17). Sold now?

4. Kendall Square Theater

If you can find it.....


Kendall is great, except for one thing–it’s in the middle of the bermuda triangle in cambridge. I suppose if you were taking the red line, and got off at Kendall, it might be ok, but driving is a different story. The signs that direct you to the cinema are about 2 microns across, and say “take left here” instead of just having a stupid arrow. DO A THING, Landmark Theaters. On the other hand, there is plenty of parking, and they have a great selection of foreign films, documentaries, restored old classics, and short film collections. Plus this is another theater where you can buy gourmet chocolates and beer. I love you, Boston.

3. The Brattle Theater

Upscale, yes, but it's Cambridge, what do you want?


I will always have a soft spot for the Brattle, ever since the time the theater caught on fire during a showing of Correlli’s Mandolin. So, instead of having to sit through one more second of that absolute Nicholas Cage wankfest, I got 16 free movie tickets, and free popcorn. As well as having hollywood releases and independent films, they also have festivals (a yearly bugs bunny festival, for example,) a yearly Oscar party, and the Harvard Bookstore holds very interesting author lectures there (Jody Picoult is an upcoming speaker). It’s also cozy and slightly upscale, leading to the feeling that you are going to see an opera instead of Shutter Island.

2. The Regent Theater

Slumdog Theataire


This theater deserves to be on this list simply because of it’s utter uniqueness. Located in Arlington (my hometown, by the by), it has live music of all, albeit strange, types (most popular being Journey and Steely Dan tribute bands); festivals of everything from bollywood films to strange animation, comedy shows, Seussical, and singalongs. Yeah. But what they’re most famous for is “The Bombay Cinema” which offers first run movies from India. People flock from miles away because really, either they’re jonesing for movies from home, or they’re Indian movie enthusiasts. Either way, it certainly is unique.

1. Coolidge Corner Movie Theater

Beautiful old school art deco marquis


There’s a reason this one ranks number one on my list–and it’s not only fond memories of my partyless teenage years. Though the ticket prices are slightly cheaper than the big chains, the place is beautifully restored, with gilded, sumptuous theaters. Their midnight movies are almost always themed, cult hits–for the coming weekend it’s Robocop and Terminator 2: Judgement Day. In the past they’ve done horror themes (Halloween, The Thing, and The Blob), bizarre comedies (The Big Lebowski, Repo Man, Fear and Loathing), and, of course, Troma in all it’s gory splendor. In addition to regular midnight movies, they also have sing-a-longs (Hedwig and the Angry Inch to name one) and quote-a-longs (Blazing Saddles one of many). How fun does that sound? Sitting around at midnight with a bunch of like-minded freaks, quoting along with Mel Brooks. There are other things to recommend this theater–lectures and classic films and foreign film festivals. Here’s the deciding factor–last month they had Alton Brown there to talk about his new book. Case closed.

Who's up for Old Boy at midnight next month???

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