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I first visited Reading Cinemas Gaslamp 15 while the theatre was still operating under the Pacific Theatres banner. It was 1999 during a visit to San Diego to audition for the job of film curator at MoPA. What better way is there to enjoy a trip to America's finest city than by walling yourself in a dark room for 188 minutes watching Magnolia?

From the spacious, architecturally resplendent lobby to the wide screens and perfect sight lines, it was love at first sight. Something told me this was going to be my new home away from home.

What with so many people holed up in their living room cineplex, there has never been a better time in our history to assess the importance of keeping movie theatres alive and thriving. Not just the mall complexes that cater to the blockbuster mentality, but the smaller venues that provide the devoted with an artistic respite from the digital destruction on display in The Avengers and Battleshit.

San Diego is far from a cinematic haven, but with Reading and Landmark consistently pulling in class acts, if patrons snoop around their local listings long enough they are bound to find something to satisfy their appetites for something that doesn't fit the event mold.

The list reflects individual auditoriums, not entire multiplexes. For every giant screen with raked seating and perfect lines there are dozens of cement bunkers with fixed aspect ratios and cramped quarters. The phone numbers listed will get you directly through to a human being, not a recorded menu, so when in doubt, drop a dime.

Admittedly I have not visited every auditorium in San Diego County, so if there's a house that I overlooked, please educate me.

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