I was born and raised in Chicago, but every movie theater is my home. Fifteen years and countless subleased seats after making the move to weatherless San Diego, my slippers click comfortably together and I sigh, “There’s no place like the big Grossmont. Or the Ken. Or Edwards’ IMAX in Mira Mesa.” Much praise has been written in these pages on the local exhibition scene, so don’t expect another checklist of favored auditoriums. Allow me to instead shed light on another side of two local picture houses. For those who don’t like to venture too far from their living rooms in search of art, there’s the best place in town to pick up used DVDs. Escondido’s been home for the past year, so it’s fitting that mention is made of a venue so spectacular, they don’t need movies to earn my admiration.
340 N. Escondido Boulevard, Escondido
The Museum of California Center for the Performing Arts
Since first opening their doors over two decades ago, the cultural campus has worked hard to establish itself as North County’s answer to Balboa Park (minus the psychics). Billed as the “art and soul” of Escondido, the 12-acre arts complex includes two performance venues (the bigger of which boasts the most acoustically advanced concert hall in Southern California), art and dance studios, and a museum. With an emphasis on diversity, on any given monthly event calendar one’s likely to find exhibitions, local singers, and/or splashy big-name musicians, theatrical productions, dance...just about every form of performance art there is, save the projected kind.
4240 Kearny Mesa Road #128, Kearny Mesa
At a time when movies are being compressed, streamed, and beamed directly to your iPhone, there remain a few loyalists who prefer the feel of a snapcase and cover-art insert in their hand. Don’t let the name Bookoff fool you. Come for the literature, stay for the cineliteracy. A good third of this cinderblock warehouse situated in the corner of the Hawthorn Center Mall is stocked with thousands of DVDs, all priced to move. Filed alphabetically by genre and with shelves restocked on a regular basis, there hasn’t been a more satisfying video-browsing experience since Tower Records bit the dust.
11620 Carmel Mountain Road, Carmel Mountain
Angelika Film Center
Three months after upgrading from mere multiplex to world-class film center, the Angelika has become a hot dinner-and-a-movie destination. With all of the gourmet goodies crying out from the menu board, it’s not unusual to find the line at the concession stand outdistancing those waiting to buy tickets. Unaccustomed to dining in the dark? As if an evening at the cinema isn’t nutritious enough, top off a (hopefully) great movie with some first-rate grub. Save your stub and take advantage of their After the Film program. Anything on the menu — burgers, wine, popcorn — is 50 percent off.
2921 El Cajon Boulevard, North Park
The Media Arts Center Digital Gym
In addition to bringing a glittering array of foreign and independent films through town, the Digital Gym offers distinguished workshops and classes for kids ages 6–13 eager to become well versed in the language of cinema. Since 2001, the Teen Producers Project has worked hard to correct the errors of the mainstream media by emphasizing collaboration, communication, and art as a means of enacting social change. Registration is now open for the next TPP, which runs January 30–April 15, followed this spring by Youth Media Tech Camps. Enrollment is $245 (members save $40) with after-care available from 3–5 p.m. for an additional $55.