I’ve already bitched about The Landmark at Westside Pavilion in West Los Angeles so I figured it’s only fair I gave L.A.’s newest movie theater a test drive. Does it make the grade?
- A decent lineup of smaller films including Away From Her, Once and Paris je t’aime along with smaller wide-release fare like Mr. Brooks and Gracie.
- Free parking.
- Reserved, assigned seating. I can’t say enough about how much I like this feature and I wish more theatres besides Arclight and The Landmark would adopt it. It’s a more relaxed and civilized way to go to a movie than the usual cattle call approach. Of course 60% of the time there’s some ass monkey already in my seat when I show up. Invariably they give me the stink eye when I tell them they’re in my seat like I’m some kind of irrational hardass who just likes to give people a bad time when in fact I’m really just trying to avoid the chain reaction clusterfuck that occurs if I then sit in someone else’s seat and the problem is repeated over and over and over as the joint starts to fill up. Once the lights go down and seats are hard to find, things get ugly…
- Real butter on the popcorn. Compare this to the greasy substance they use at AMC which tastes and smells a little like it passed through someone’s ass on the way to my mouth.
- Purchase tickets and print them out online. I didn’t actually try the advanced purchase option because I wasn’t sure when I wanted to see the movie until the last minute when I wasn’t near my computer, but the overly friendly usher confirmed I could print my own tickets if I’d wanted to. You can order tickets for most theaters online these days, but you can’t always print your own. This is important because, for the most part, people are stupid and the fewer I have to contend with (either running things or in lines in front of me) the better.
- Reasonable $11 price (Reasonable by LA standards anyway). Weekdays before 7pm are $9. I didn’t check into a weekend matinee price.
- Presentation appears to be state of the art, though I’m not one of those weirdos carrying around light and sound meters taking measurements and analyzing sight lines.
- No commercials before the movie. You don’t even remember how nice that is until you’re in a theatre that doesn’t do it.
- Extra $1 charge for online ticket purchase, though the free parking kind of makes up for it.
- Small number of tiny bathrooms.
- The popcorn was cold. I’m not expecting steaming hot, but at least heat-lamp warm. It was also served in a bag instead of a bucket. I hate the bags.
- The 4 screens upstairs are only served by a limited snack bar with bottled drinks and uncooked snacks. If you want popcorn or the fresh pretzels with the snooty artisanal mustard they brag about, you have to get them downstairs. Not a huge problem if you know in advance.
- They don’t give you drink straws, you have to get one yourself at the little condiment island to one end of the counter. That’s a recipe for roadblock. Maybe this doesn’t seem like a big deal, but trust me: your average self-centered asshole is drawn to these things like a moth to a flame and they’ll stand their blocking everyone’s way, serving themselves up 17 containers of wasabi relish and raspberry whateverthefuck mustard to eat with their fresh baked pretzels. You’ll find these same people hogging the salsa table at taco joints or the cream and sugar islands at Starbucks. You (being the generally motivated and efficient sort that you are) just want to get a fucking napkin and be on your merry way and they’re standing in your way, chatting on their cell phone, destroying a perfectly decent cup of coffee with ounce after ounce of lord-knows-what. Here’s a hot tip, fuckos: if you’re so hell-fired up for cream and sugar, why not go order a fucking milkshake at DQ and stay the hell out of my way? I’ve got a life to live here and I’m not getting any younger. Thanks, you’re swell.
- The NASA designed foam seats were a little firm for my liking, though the extra support could have extra benefits during longer movies and admittedly my ass never really got sore. I just prefer a soft, cloth-covered La-Z-Boy to a leather sports car seat when I’m watching a movie.
- There didn’t appear to be anywhere to sit in the main lobby. Not a big deal, but sometimes I show up early and it’s nice to have a place to sit and wait for the rest of my party to arrive.
Extra Credit: The Landmark is just across the street and half a block down from The Apple Pan, purveyor of decent burgers and most importantly, the 2nd finest fresh-baked apple pie in Los Angeles county since 1947 (I’m partial to Pie ‘n Burger in Pasadena because I like the crust a little better, but that’s like saying I prefer brunettes to blondes). It’s still counter service only so be prepared to tuck in those elbows as you linger over a warm wedge of apple pie with ice cream. For weirdos who don’t like apple pie, rumor has it they have a limited number of other flavors. I haven’t tried them and can’t vouch for them. For weirdos who don’t like pie at all…well I’m not sure we can still be friends. The coffee, served at about 1000 degrees from gas-fired stainless steel machines, would make Special Agent Dale Cooper soil himself.
Overall Grade: A-. A very civilized theater going experienced aimed at more mature audiences. The cheaper weekend cost and free parking (relative to the Arclight) tend to balance out the pretty minor drawbacks. I’ll go out of my way to visit this theater as long as they continue to have movies I want to see and I’ll definitely be stopping for pie before or after. (Date of visit: 6/2/07) (Update: 10/12/07) New Grade: B