Investment in Seattle's alternative screening spaces continues into the new year, and I couldn't be happier. Along with a new paint job, the Grand Illusion has a brand-new marquee. It looks nice, too. Perhaps it's an outward manifestation of their inner beauty, because the movies they've been landing to advertise on said marquee have been topnotch, which is a pattern that looks to be continuing into the new year.

Over in the Central District, exciting things are happening at the Central Cinema. They have been renovating their space at 21st Avenue and Union Street, and are now earthquake-proof. They've also just put up the steel for their new marquee (everybody's getting one!) and are working on putting in some neon highlights, as well as a neon chandelier for their lobby. Meanwhile, they're busy installing a kitchen. Yeah, you heard me right: a kitchen. Inspired by the likes of the Alamo Drafthouse in Austin and the Olympic Club in Centralia, this will be a place for a meal and a drink while you enjoy a movie. Though on their website they don't say when they'll open, I'm hoping it'll be the springtime, or maybe just after the Seattle International Film Festival. And if you want to see it open earlier, you could volunteer to help them out. One thing they're looking for are donations of small mirrors for an art project in the restrooms. You can try stopping by the theater, or contact them at

There are only a couple of events happening in the first week of the new year, one of which I'm looking forward to and the other I am not. I'll do this chronologically. On Sunday the 2nd, the 5th Avenue Theatre is hosting Sing-A-Long Sound of Music. I can think of nothing so painful, so excruciating, as this three-and-a-half-hour event, which comes with pre- and post-show festivities, a costume contest, and the movie complete with subtitled lyrics. This is not my cup of tea, but it might be yours--or maybe your kids will like it? It is scheduled for 1:30 in the afternoon, after all.

More to my speed is an evening of surrealist and absurdist short films at the Rendezvous on Wednesday the 5th. Of course they're showing the Salvador Dalí/Luis Buñuel team-up "Un Chien Andalou" (1929), but it's been so long since I've seen more than just stills of the ants coming out of the hand and the slicing of the eyeball that I'm curious to see it again. That will show with two rarely screened student films by Roman Polanski. First there's "Two Men and a Wardrobe" (1958), about two men who emerge from the sea with a wardrobe, get beat up, then return to the sea. The second is "The Fat and the Lean" (1961), where the Fat is the master and the Lean is the slave, and Polanski himself stars as the slave. Unlike at the 5th Avenue Theatre, here you are encouraged to drink all the way through the show.

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