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The Central Cinema - it's one of Seattle 's best kept secrets
The Central Cinema - it's one of Seattle 's best kept secrets
courtesy Scott Rice

The Central Cinema combines urbane decor, stylish food, and a diverse slate of films to create a sophisticated and relaxing cinematic experience. I believe it's one of Seattle 's best kept secrets.

I did an impromptu poll among fifteen friends that live in or near Capitol Hill. Only two knew where the Central Cinema was and only one of them had been there. Folks, you need to check this place out.

Tucked just off East Union Street and 21st, the Central Cinema offers a range of movies including classics old and new, offbeat foreign fare, independent films, and locally produced stuff you won't see anywhere else. The theater is comfortable with couches and dining tables in the front and traditional seating in the rear. The screen isn't huge, but it's large enough for the intimate space and the sound is good, too. You definitely get the big-screen experience. From the tiled mosaic entrance to the comfortable restrooms, the style is understated sophistication with a slight retro edge. The Café Noir in the lobby is open 6-10pm Wednesday through Sunday for those nights when the movie doesn't turn you on but the stone oven pizza does. They also offer sandwiches, salads, and gourmet popcorn.

I arrived early enough to get my order in and sit back to enjoy some of the old commercials and informational reels that run before the feature presentation. My pizza and wine came just after the film started.

I ordered the Maiale pizza with Italian sausage, pepperoni, crimini mushrooms, cheese, and marinara for $9.75. They call the pizzas 10 inch personal size, but I could only eat half of mine. The crust was simple and nondescript, but cooked just right. The toppings were terrific; it's nice to see a Seattle eatery that's not afraid of spice. The hint of rosemary was the perfect thread to tie it all together.

The Boirá Pinot Grigio was simple with nice acidity. While it wasn't memorable, it served its purpose and I'm sure it was somewhat blown out by the robust pizza. I would have ordered red but the only Italian available was a cabernet. I was looking for something with more acidity and a lighter feel. Still, the Boirá would have been more aptly priced at $6.00 rather than $8.00.

This week's feature, Memento Mori, didn't appeal to me as much as the theater itself. Made in Korea in 1999, the trailers claim it's a horror film. Funny thing, while there is a surplus of inexplicable elements in the movie few of them spring from the horror genre. The film has telepathic teenage Lesbians, snotty school girls, inappropriate teachers, feckless teachers, inappropriate feckless teachers and a stray turtle. The film does not have monsters, murderers, or any beings remotely supernatural.

Memento Mori also lacks a lucid narrative structure. I don't mind playing with linear narrative as long as the device serves the larger aims of the film. However, jumping around because you think it is cool is actually just irritating. And, by the way, I wasn't fooled by the over-wrought score, quick cuts, and digital image manipulation; I am fully aware that nothing actually happens for the last 20 minutes.

The best thing about the movie is the bevy of lovely young women actors. They are beautiful and I get to offer that up without feeling icky because I'm a Queer man; it is a purely aesthetic observation. For Lesbians and breeders planning to take your girlfriends, things could get a touch uncomfortable.

Memento Mori is a Latin phrase roughly translated, remember your death. Unfortunately, while watching this mess of a movie there were times I forgot I was living. Memento Mori runs August 1-3 with shows at 7 and 9:45pm.

The future, however, looks brighter with Moulin Rouge playing August 6-10 followed by Fried Green Tomatoes August 13-17. Show times are 7 and 10pm Wednesday through Sunday. Both are wonderful movies that would be nice to see on the big screen again (I hear coming to Moulin Rouge in costume is being encouraged by the management). Check out the Central Cinema website, www.central-cinema.com, for information on other screenings and theme nights, including GLAMN (Gay Lesbian Alternative Movie Night) hosted by Ron Anders.

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