There’s certainly no shortage of places to see movies in Portland. Anything from the biggest-name blockbuster to the most obscure independent release is available to anyone willing to look. So, one might ask, what could possibly be missing? Until I attended Living Room Theater this week, I would have answered that question with “nothing.
There’s certainly no shortage of places to see movies in Portland. Anything from the biggest-name blockbuster to the most obscure independent release is available to anyone willing to look. So, one might ask, what could possibly be missing? Until I attended Living Room Theater this week, I would have answered that question with “nothing.”
But now I say that I was certainly wrong. Occupying the bizarre triangular lot across Burnside from Powell’s, Living Room at first seemed slightly out of place, a little too nice for the side of the street it sits on. The theater opened in December with the goal of providing high-tech service and quality atmosphere to Portland’s movie lovers, and it delivers on this promise in spades.
Although the price is admittedly higher than a lot of the lower-brow places in town, student discounts and a generous winter price reduction on Mondays and Tuesdays make seeing a film at such a nice place within reach of those with tighter purse strings. General admission is a pricey $9, with $7 matinees and $6 for students, with the winter discount placing a movie at $4.50, cheaper than even the Clinton Street Theater or Cinema 21. And, of course, you get what you pay for. Even before you walk in through the massive, clean wooden front doors, Living Room is making no bones about its swank status. A full bar is the first thing to greet prospective moviegoers, along with the exquisitely carved cedar wall that backs it. The lighting is colored and low, and clean-cut Pearl types sit utilizing the free Wi-Fi. It looks great, in that Flinstones/Jetsons retro-futuristic way.
I was even more pleased to find that my 6:50 show time fell within happy hour, netting me a pint of Sierra Nevada Pale for a measly $2. On top of the microbrews, wine list, and fine booze, Living Room also features a food menu with items such as a meat and cheese plate, rice paper wraps, crepes and sandwiches. The tapas-style food will put you back a bit, up to $10 for the most expensive, but the fact that you can eat it while drinking and watching your selected feature makes up for it.
You can also drop in anytime after 7 a.m. for coffee, espresso and pastries. Happy hour runs from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m., but adding extra incentive on Monday and Tuesday from 10 p.m. till closing time at 1 a.m., and brings with it its own specialized and cheap menu. As for the screening rooms themselves, they epitomize understated comfort. The seats are plush airline-style units, with a couple of small tables in back and up front accompanied by no-less-plush ’60s chairs. If I’d wanted to, I could have easily fallen asleep.
A big deal about the place is its all-digital video and sound facilities, which certainly were clear and crisp. There was only one glitch the entire duration of the film, and that’s a lot more than I could say about even established high-end theaters like Fox Tower. I would also rather spend $10 on a beer and sandwich than a soda and shitty hot dog. The thought and planning that obviously went into this place pays off in a big way with a theater that can appeal to any segment of the movie-going population. I would recommend that you get with it, get with it now, and check out Living Room Theater. I guarantee it will not kill you to treat yourself to a place with some nice ambiance instead of a dive with uncomfortable seats.
And, while the starting prices are admittedly higher than other small places, the combination of discounts and happy hours provide some excellent loopholes for the budget conscious.
Film selection, the reason you’re coming here in the first place, is geared more towards the foreign end of the spectrum than most other places, and with six theaters you have a lot to choose from. Only drawback is that some of the movies have been out for a while (This Film Is Not Yet Rated is kind of an oldie), but with one new film added per week, it’s really not much of a complaint. Still playing after a couple of weeks is Zizek!, which follows a noted thinker I have certainly never heard of on a whirlwind worldwide speaking tour in which he pontificates on the meaning of life through his own particular, distorted lens. The film has garnered some good reviews, so it might be worth a check-out.
Next addition is Iceberg, a Belgian flick about a woman who develops a strange fascination with cold and ice after being erroneously locked in a walk-in freezer. The theater’s website (www.livingroomtheaters.com) helpfully lists show times and provides descriptions of upcoming movies, along with a full menu and wine list.
These kinds of deluxe-ifying touches are part of what lifts Living Room into a plush-seated, high-sound-quality, drinking-beer-while-viewing realm of its own. In fact, you would be a fool not to see at least one movie here. It is a truly unprecedented cinema experience.