A Night Out In Town : Angelika Film Center

April 2004–“Let’s go catch a movie,” my friend shouted.

“Where?” I asked. “Angelika Film Center on Texas Avenue downtown, man.”

“Why don’t we just go to AMC or Tinsletown?”

That’s what may often happen when friends are trying to figure out where to go on any given night. Many people may believe that AMC or Tinsletown Theatres are the only good theatres around Houston because those are the most popular ones. You could go to Tinsletown…but no wait, that’s a little too unclassy. Then, you have AMC 24/32… no hold on; they look just like Tinsletown. Is there any other place? Yep, Angelika Film Center located at 510 Texas Avenue at Smith, which is operated by Citadel Cinemas; an entertainment company branched off from Citadel Holding Corporation. The Angelika Film Center opened at the end of 1997.

My friends and I arrive at Angelika around 9 PM. Upon arrival, you might want to find parking at the Theatre District Parking Garage. Various entrances are chosen depending on which way you are coming from. For instance, from I-10 heading east, you go to Entrance #4. Heading I-45 South, you take Entrance #1. There are many entrances for easy access. Handicapped? No worry, you can also park in the Theatre District Parking Garage. And if you’re in a hurry and don’t want to find parking, the theatre also has valet parking for $10.00. The only bad thing about parking underground is that you have to get a ticket. Parking fee costs around 5 dollars there, not too shabby. I was outraged as no other movie theatres made you pay for parking, but I’ll get to that later. I guess it’s because the lot was really nice. The walls had beautiful, glossy paint that portrayed the ‘80s type surrounding. One of the walls had a Jazz musician playing the magnificent brass Saxophone. I found parking near the elevator as I didn’t want to walk too far to get up a level to the theatres. The outside walls of the elevator as you were waiting were painted bright purple with multiple black figures of musicians, actors, directors, and all sorts of entertainment ideals. If I remember correctly, there are 2 elevators on each side with shiny metal doors. Inside the elevator was quite cramped as we had about 8 people stuffed in there. What happened next you wouldn’t believe; we got stuck in the elevator! The girls that were with us were screaming and shouting as if we didn’t know we got stuck. My friends that were with us were telling the girls to calm down as they kept punching the white elevator floor buttons with an orange glow. After about 5 minutes of continuing ramming of the buttons, we finally got the elevator moving upstairs.

As we start to exit off the elevator walk make a trip down some stairs because we accidentally went to the wrong floor. As we reach the Office Box to Angelika Film Center, the line was pretty long with a diverse crowd as we were getting close. It was pretty cool outside that day and was dark, I might add. I stood behind a group of females and males as they were talking about how they think “The Eye” will be a great scary movie. I let out a little smirk as they didn’t know what they were in for. I chose to go up to them and ask them if they have heard anything about the movie. They told me that they were trying to find scary movies on DVD and they stumbled upon “The Eye” while searching eBay. The male in the group then told me that there was a link in the description that showed him showings of the movie in different states. He said that it showed Texas on the location and it said that it would be showing today at 9. One of the girls told me that this was supposedly the scariest movie to come out of Japan. I was shocked that I didn’t know what I was in for. After that, I just quietly ended the conversation and start to walk back to my group of friends and told them that this movie will be one heck of a movie.

“The Eye” is about an Asian American girl who is blind but lucky when a donor set of eyes are suddenly given to her. The eyes have a twist though; they were the eyes of a girl who could see bad things before they happen and things that had already happened. For instance the girl who got the donor eyes could see a village burning and being destroyed before it happened. She would go tell people that the village was in danger and then everyone thought she was a witch. Eventually the village people gathered together and went on the hunt for the girl and killed her.

Waiting 10 minutes in line before you actually got to the ticket booth to purchase your tickets is when the African American male that worked in the Office Box asked everyone for their ID as the movie was Rated-R. Tickets for the movie cost $8.00 but if you have your student ID, it only cost $6.00. My friend got his ticket but the guy started to say something that made me think he did something wrong. I was thinking to myself, “What are they talking about?” As my turn approaches, he asked if I had the parking permit with me, I said, “No.” He then proceeded to tell me that he could stamp my parking permit which would mean that the parking would be free. For the slow people, Angelika would pay for the parking. At this time, I was frustrated as I had to go back to my car to grab the red permit and bring it back up there and wait in line again for him to stamp it. But I couldn’t complain that much, parking would be free. You might say, well, AMC is free too, but does AMC have the limited movies that you can only watch here at Angelika? I used the stairs to get to my car because I did not want to get stuck in that elevator especially because I didn’t have a cell phone with me.

After about 15 minutes, we finally got to the entrance this wonderful place in downtown. As we enter the theatre, I notice the gigantic chandelier hanging from the 40-50 something feet ceiling. It was a beautiful sight as it was night time and the chandelier shined with an extraordinary glow of light like the sun. A little bit in front of the door, you can see single and double brown leather couches and light tan wooden chairs for you to sit in as you wait for the movie to start or just want to sit back and relax. To your left coming through the entrance, is the Angelika Café & Bar. The area was pretty classy looking because of the nice tables and chairs that they had for you. The wooden tables were a light tan in color and so were the chairs. For the back support, they had aluminum as the seat and legs. The feeling you had when you sat down is like you were in a steak house since the environment is quiet and dark.

I didn’t decide to buy anything food from the Café & Bar as I already had a meal before I left my house. The Café & Bar serves all sorts of foods as they combine the specialties of France and the delicacies of Asia to make a new Millennium menu. Some items are soups & salads, pizza, sandwiches, pastas, burgers, New Orleans crab cakes, spicy chicken satay, French club, and many more selections. Prices for such foods can range from $5.00 appetizers to $20.00 meals. As the hour of our movie was at almost at hand, we decided we would start heading into the theatre for seats. Our movie was way down the hall all the way in the back. It was a nice walk though; the walls had portraits of old movies and new limited movies that were going to show or already showed. That hallway gives you that feeling like your walking through the hall of fame for movies. I think I saw a portrait of the man himself, Elvis Presley. You know, that picture of him holding that old school microphone with his hand in the air while tilting the stand that holds the microphone. Yea, that one.

To our surprise upon entering the theatre, it was empty as if the theatre was haunted. I guess nobody wanted to watch a scary movie that would make their skin crawl and their bones shiver. It was great though, more room for us to sit without worrying about someone getting mad at us being too loud from whispering. We chose to sit near the middle of the theatre so that we could have the best view. The size of theatre was about the size of the AMC theatres in the back and the seats were about the same quality as AMC but had more leg room. Seats inside the Angelika Film Center were comfortable as sitting on a fluffy leather couch and the arm rest had plenty of padding compared to AMC’s, as they feel like one layer of cloth over the plastic arm rests. The walls were painted black so you could have the dark environment while viewing the movie. You could say that the theatre was about the same as other theatres but with more leg room, much more leg room.

The movie was minutes away from starting when people actually started to walk in. I knew people wanted to come see this movie besides the group of friends I had along with me! It wasn’t a big group, but at least we weren’t in the theatre by ourselves. They decided to sit behind us and that made me feel a little bit more comfortable. I’m not good when it comes to really scary movies. I thought the people behind us were going to talk a lot since they were teenage females. Girls usually have something to say about anything whether it’s good or bad. To my amazement when the movie started, it was so quiet like people were forbidden to talk. There wasn’t even a single murmur from anyone. Our group didn’t sit all in one row so about 4 of us were in one row while the other 4 was in the row in front of us. I had a great a time because as the movie ended, we scared our friends in front of us by making ghostly noises and they screamed like when someone taps your shoulder when no one else is in the room.

The movie ended around 11 PM, we decided it was time to head home to get some rest. My overall experience was fantastic as I had friends close to me enjoy the wonderful night.

“Did you guys enjoy the movie?” the ushers asked when we were leaving.

“Yes, we had a good time.” I replied.

“That’s great, come back soon.” He responded.

“You can count on it.” I answered.

While leaving, I got the chance to talk to one of the workers about working here.

“Oh hey, how’s working here for you?” I asked.

“It’s wonderful; the environment is very relaxing and comfortable.” One of the ushers replied.

“I enjoy working here because the staff and faculty here treat me with much respect as if we were childhood friends.” Another usher answered.

They were very hospitable and nice. I could hear from behind us as we were leaving that other people had enjoyed it also. A girl was talking about how she wanted to come back here as soon as possible when there was another scary movie coming out. Her friend next to her was saying that she really likes the different environment Angelika Theatres gave her and that she would definitely be coming back.

So if you’re planning on taking your girlfriend or boyfriend to a classy theatre, try Angelika Film Center. They have “Cheap Date” every Monday that costs $5.50 per ticket, which includes a FREE large popcorn & FREE large soda, and free valet parking upon presentation of valid student ID at the Box Office. If you’re a parent and want to take your children to the film center, Angelika offers “Cry Baby Matinee” each Friday and Saturday morning at 11:45 AM and the cost is regular for the adults and children under 5 is free. For your needs, the theatre will dim the lights, turn down the volume, and keep the movies rolling. It won’t have the usual movies that are playing nationwide, but the limited movies that other talented directors our there make that you don’t get to see on the “big screen”. What I mean by limited movies is that, the movies that are not released nationwide, but are released independently. It’s a great experience because you get a break from the usual famous directors such as Stephen Spielberg or Peter Jackson. For a great night in town, give Angelika Film Center a little visit.


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*Now* showing at Angelika
Director Stephen Spielberg


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