The DVD industry has nearly annihilated Toronto's rep cinema scene, but there's still nothing like seeing a movie on a big screen. That doesn't mean you have to shell out $25 for a flick and a snack. Of course, check out NOW's pages for lots of free preview screenings; not only do you get to see something for nada, but you can impress your friends by talking about a film weeks before it opens.
A good rep
Long-time standby chain Festival Cinemas recently closed several of its theatres, but the Fox (2236 Queen East, 416-691-7330) in the Beaches remains, and the Royal 's (608 College) about to make a comeback soon. Movies cost $6 after you pay $3 for a six-month membership. The programming tends to stick to just-past-first-run blockbuster territory, but the occasional art film or small indie get exclusive runs there. www.festivalcinemas.com. The Bloor Cinema (506 Bloor West, 416-516-2330, www.bloorcinema. com), restored to its former glory after extensive renovations, is cheap, elegant and terrifically located. Programming ranges from second-run mainstream to indie festivals, student screenings and alternative one-offs. Tickets are a mere $4.25 with a $3 membership.
For those of you who can't wait a couple of months for movies to hit the reps, there are other options. The Rainbow Cinemas show first-run movies at cut-rate prices: $4.25 for students and seniors and Tuesdays, $7.50 for adult evening rates. Book early for the weekends - many screenings sell out quickly. 80 Front East, 416-494-9371, and others. www.rainbowcinemas.ca.
Many of the big chain theatres offer cheap matinees and Tuesdays. One of the better deals is at the Carlton (20 Carlton, 416-598-2309), where an ever-changing array of first-run independent and foreign films screen for 6 bucks in the afternoon or a more-modest-than-average $10 at night.
The Town Hall theatre at U of T's Innis College (2 Sussex, www.utoronto. ca/fff) offers an eclectic cinematic selection in its Free Film Fridays every week at 7 pm throughout the school year. If it's not Friday and you're dying to go out to the movies but have nothing in your pockets but lint, the NFB Mediatheque (150 John, 416-973-3012, www.nfb.ca) has what you need. Private viewing stations offer a menu of over 2,800 movies, including recent Oscar winner Ryan, and it's all free. There are NFB Film Thursdays, when selected films screen at the John Spotton Cinema , generally for $6, or $4 with a free membership. And finally, if you're fed up with Hollywood pap, be sure to check out Cinematheque 's free Tuesday-night Independents series (Jackman Hall, AGO, 317 Dundas West). It's a great place to bone up on experimental (i.e., non-narrative) film and video, and often guest speakers help you make sense of it all. 416-968-FILM.