A multiplex in a modernist milieu
By Michael O’Sullivan
Friday, September 21, 2012
Is the Washington area ready for the $13 movie ticket? The company behind the new Angelika Film Center and Cafe thinks so.
Looking like a modernist battleship that has somehow slipped into drydock near the intersection of Lee Highway and Gallows Road in Fairfax County, the soaring, glass-fronted multiplex, which opens Friday, is the latest addition to the area’s movie landscape.
Featuring eight black-box screening rooms (ranging in size from 100 to 300 plush, stadium seats), a cafe menu offering braised short rib panini, an upscale concession stand and a third-floor lounge serving beer and wine with gorgeous sunset views, the theater is the latest outpost of the boutique-theater chain best known for its flagship moviehouse in New York’s SoHo.
Although the Angelika plans to offer a range of discounted tickets, for weekday morning screenings, matinees and “Baby Boomer Thursdays,” for example, its full-price admission is an area high-water mark.
So what do you get for your money, aside from hardwood floors, a chandelier and the privilege of calling the box office the “concierge”?
Well, it’s gorgeous, for one thing. But what matters most is what’s on the screen.
Along with foreign and indie fare that one can find elsewhere, the Angelika will offer occasional area exclusives, such as “Hello I Must Be Going” (see review on Page 33).
But a little ambience doesn’t hurt. And the range of amenities is sufficiently enticing -- with a menu created by “Top Chef” contestant and producer Lee Anne Wong -- to give the area’s restaurants, most of which have yet to open, a run for their money.
Over the next few months, the Angelika will be joined by branches of Matchbox and Taylor Gourmet, along with other high-end restaurants, shops and specialty grocers in the Mosaic, a new mixed-use development.
Niche retailers include the clothing store Anthropologie, Dawn Price Baby and the Palace 5 skateboard shop, which might strike some as ironic considering that skateboarding is banned from areas of the complex.
Sure the whole thing feels a little like a D.C.-themed amusement park -- high-brow cinema! hipster hangouts! -- without the parking and safety hassles.
Sure, it’s a substantial drive from the city, though only a 15-minute walk from the Dunn Loring Metro, through what is not the most pedestrian-friendly terrain.
If it sounds a bit escapist, it is. Isn’t that why we go to the movies?