>A New Cinema for the West End

>I was very pleased to read this morning (thank you, Mr. Matthews) that there will soon be a new independent cinema opening in the West End. For those unfamiliar with some of D.C.’s more obscure neighborhood terms, the West End is that little sliver of the city north of Foggy Bottom proper, south of Dupont, and east of Georgetown when one crosses over Rock Creek. Historically, the deep ravine and waterway of what is today the southern end of Rock Creek Park has been the eastern geographic divide between the village and the city.

The West End Theater will be located at 2301 M Street NW, in premises formerly occupied by the Inner Circle Triplex Cinema until 2003. This information surprised me, for truthfully, despite having lived in Georgetown on and off since 1991, I do not ever recall going to the movies at this location. Part of the reason for this was that when I first moved to Georgetown there were many cinemas here, including several art-house venues, all of which have now disappeared.

For example, I saw Whit Stillman’s “Barcelona” (my favorite film of his), and Carlos Saura’s documentary-performance film “Flamenco” at the Francis Scott Key Theater, which is now Restoration Hardware. South of M there were two theaters: one called KB Cerberus on Thomas Jefferson and the Foundry Theater in the Foundry Building along the C&O Canal, where I remember seeing “The Madness of King George”. There was also the Biograph Theater in what is now the CVS pharmacy on M Street across from the Four Seasons, which tended to show a mix of foreign films and dirty movies (sometimes both incarnate in the same work.)

All of these locales are long gone, and while Georgetown has a very comfortable and pleasant multiplex now in the form of the Loews Georgetown Theater along the waterfront, that venue does not tend to show the sort of films that many of Georgetown’s smaller cinemas did. For the type of fare that I usually enjoy, I have to plan an excursion to the E Street Cinema downtown. While I don’t mind doing this, necessarily, the chances of my happening to wander by and drop in to see something unplanned are slim to none, given its location at such a great distance from where I live, work, and play. Having a similar venue just around the corner from my parish church, grocery store, and office will make it more likely that I will visit the West End Theater when it begins operations.

The cinema will have three screens, and plans to show independent films, foreign films, documentaries, and restored classic movies. This is a wonderful combination, and exactly what this part of town needs. It amazes me that in this corner of the capital, which is not only filled with people holding far too many graduate degrees, but also residents who are from or who have lived in many parts of the world, that no one has tried to make this business model work previously. Kudos to the developers for trying to bring this off, and I can assure you in advance of my patronage – and if I may, gentlemen, here are my two cents for showing “All About Eve” or “To Have and Have Not” as soon as possible.

Bogie and Baby arriving for a film premiere in the 1950’s

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