toronto is a movie town whereyou can live, breathe and think film all year round. You can be overcome by the choices: Hollywood, art-house and independent movies, film festivals, student video nights and avant-garde offerings. Don't be fooled into thinking that it's reasonable to cough up $12.50 to see a movie on the weekend. There are cheaper alternatives.
Get a rep cinema card. The Festival Cinemas -- the Fox, Kingsway, Music Hall, Revue and Royal -- program films that have opened in the last three to four months, so if you can hold out and not see movies during their initial run, you're all set. A membership card good for six months costs $3, and with it admission costs just $6 ($8 without the card). The Festival hotline is 416-690-2600; Web site www.festivalcinemas.com.
The Bloor Cinema (506 Bloor West) is an independently owned rep house that also programs first-run movies. It breaks the mould by offering a variety of mini-festivals, student film nights and a regular Saturday afternoon Japanese program that screens anime shorts for $5. A membership card is $3, admission $6, and weekday matinees (4:30 pm) are only $3 for members, $4 for non-members and a double bill will only set you back $6. 416-516-2330, www.blooorcinema.com.
Starting each September, Pleasure Dome presents the city's best avant-garde and experimental films and videos on a monthly basis. A yearly $10 membership ensures that you receive screening info and discounted $2 admission (non-members $5). 416-656-5577, www.pdome.org.
I like the Goethe-Institut's $5 weekly screenings of German films, most of which are rarely shown in Toronto and unavailable on video. Their season kicks off this month and runs to mid-December at the Institut's Kinowelt Hall, 163 King West. 416-593-5257, www.goethe.de/uk/tor.
If you're more comfortable sitting at home wading through movies on video, check out your local library. All branches have video collections; you can check a movie out and watch it at home or at the library. There are waiting lists for many, but as with books, if there's a movie you want to see that's in the system but not at your branch, they'll send it over to your local library as soon as it's available.
This is by far the cheapest way to obtain a cinematic education. The only downside is that some of the videos have been viewed so often that the tape quality has degraded. A small hint: clean your VCR head before and after.
If you want to rent videos and DVDs, check out Suspect Video, which offers an eclectic film catalogue, from rare 70s New York grind-house cinema to hard-to-find anime. They've got two handy locations (619 Queen West, 416-504-7135; and 605 Markham, 416-588-6674) and their Web site (www.suspectvideo.com) includes the catalogue and will soon offer links to cool movie merchandise. After Dark Video (1043 Bathurst, 416-533-7500) specializes in foreign, cult and horror and has an alternative sex section. You can rent without a membership, but a $25 membership gets you three free movie rentals or a rockin' Rocky Horror/Dracula T-shirt. There's also a two-for-one special Monday to Thursday.