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Culture Dogs' Corner

The Culture Dogs' WWUH Film Awards

by Kevin O'Toole

  Ah, May and June in greater Hartford. As I write this, I can only dream of it as the cold winds of March blow… well, okay, it's 60º out, but bear with me here, I'm being dramatic.
  I'm torn every year around this time as a cinema fan. On the one hand, movie-going in around this time seems to be part of the whole recreation ritual. On the other hand, you tend to plug yourself into the local multiplex in the search for entertainment after you've tired yourself out going to the beach or bicycling or playing "Going to the Beach 2" or "Cycling 3" on your PSP. "I don't want to have to plan it out," you think to yourself. "I don't want to think," you think to yourself. "Wait… did I just think? Stop that!", you then think loudly to yourself.
  Stop the madness, I say.
  As many fair-to-middling bits of big-screen adventure as may come down the pike at the monsta-plex (like Mission Impossible III: Saving Tom Cruise from Scientology, or Dan Brown's original lawsuit, The DaVinci Code), there is salvation in the institutions we on Culture Dogs have come to call your local non-profit cinemas. (As a matter of fact, if you want a listing of the latest premieres and other special goodness coming from those non-coms every week, you should tune in from 8-9 pm on Sundays for our show. But I digress…)
  Last year, though we were heartened by commercial cinema releases like Batman Begins, Land of the Dead or Howl's Moving Castle, we were truly sustained by Hartford's Real Art Ways, the Wadsworth Atheneum and Trinity Cinestudio, all of which run excellent and engrossing summer programming.

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Wadsworth Atheneum's Aetna Theater is the oldest of these three theatrical spaces, and is known for not only offering theatrical art house favorites like the charming "Seducing Dr. Lewis" during summer months, but they also often serve coffee, beer and wine, as well as the more usual candy and snacks. Last year, also, they premiered the beautiful film, "Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress." Plus, they have that nice little historic museum upstairs from the theater that you may have heard about…

For more information:
WADSWORTH ATHENEUM
600 Main Street
Hartford, CT 06103
Phone: (860) 278-2670

http://www.wadsworthatheneum.org

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  Trinity Cinestudio is a former lecture hall that has been acoustically and otherwise renovated to screen films, and they have been historically the best in terms of their cinema presentation. They've been known to screen the odd 70 MM print (for those less initiated in old cinema formats: it's the IMAX before there was IMAX… and after there was Cinerama…). They've been around for just under forty years, and they're run by folks who have a love for many kinds of film, from Batman Begins to Au Revoir Les Enfants to Rocky Horror Picture Show to Tamala 2010: A Punk Cat in Outer Space.  Among the highlights of last summer, were a revival of Sam Peckinpah's lost Western classic, Major Dundee, the Italian two-part epic, The Best of Youth and a small revival of the cult classic, Trainspotting. They also host the Connecticut Gay and Lesbian Film Festival every June.

One minor detail: no snacks or drinks are sold or permitted at Cinestudio. People who go there go for the movies, and just the movies.
For more information:

TRINITY CINESTUDIO
300 Summit St.
Hartford, CT 06106 - 3173
Phone: 860-297-CINE (2463)

http://www.cinestudio.org

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  Real Art Ways has been a Hartford arts institution for over thirty years, and, yes, some of that time has been spent showing the odd film. In the last ten years or so, however, they've evolved a full fledged alternative cinema space with a great presentation, as well as a wide array of snacks, (including coffee, beer and wine). They also, of course, run a full-fledged art gallery featuring an interesting array of provocative and engrossing art, and they also often feature live performances, often as part of their monthly Creative Cocktail Hour.
  Last summer, RAW featured some great documentaries (The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill and Rock School among them) and other great narrative films (including Todd Solondz' brilliant Palindromes, the underrated Intimate Stories and the cult Korean paranoid sci-fi flick, Oldboy).
For more information:

REAL ART WAYS
56 Arbor St
Hartford, CT 06106
Phone: 860-232-1006

http://www.realartways.org

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  It's a bit of a haul, but I've got to get down to the Avon Theatre in Stamford sometime. Why do I have to? Well, their movie selection is quite excellent, though you could as easily wait for any of them to come to RAW or Trinity. It is a vintage movie house, but you could get that vibe from Wadsworth Atheneum or Trinity Cinestudio locally. They serve snacks apparently, though having not been, I can't say what they have. I saw a popcorn and candy counter at least. And, sure, they have late night and revival screenings, but, again, we can get that closer to home
  So what do they have?
  Star power.
  If you want screenings with a good Q and A afterwards, the Avon in Stamford may be a must as a day trip. Not one month goes by without a decent Q and A opportunity. For instance, when they recently ran Good Night and Good Luck, they had, not one, but two nights featuring guests who worked with Edward R. Murrow, even some who were represented in the film. In the month of April alone, they have two such events, including an evening with Jane Fonda with a special screening of Klute.
For more information:

AVON THEATRE FILM CENTER
272 Bedford Street
Stamford, CT 06901
Phone: 203-967-3660

http://www.avontheatre.org

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  Now, if that list of options doesn't help you survive a summer over-stuffed with cinema, I don t know what will. And I believe I do, thank you very much. Make sure to listen to Sam Hatch and I on CULTURE DOGS every Sunday night, your weekly video and movie news and review program from eight to nine on U-H Radio for the latest on how to survive your summer on home video...and out at the movies! Also heard at culturedogs.com on our Pod-cast.

See you on the radio!

- Kevin O'Toole

WWUH: Program Guide 2006 ©

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