When I moved to Amsterdam from Madrid a year ago, I didn’t expect that I would rediscover the experience of going to the movies in my new city. I love watching films in theatres and, moreover, I love the act of going to see a movie, which I’ve been doing for more than 20 years now in different countries. And yet going to the movies in Amsterdam, as it happens with many other things in this fabulous city, is altogether something different.
What makes going to the films so special in this city is the big network of art house theatres scattered all around the place, and the stimulating, unpretentious programmes that run in these and other venues. Compared to Madrid, where most of the art house theatres look like multiplex cinemas, Amsterdam feels like a refreshing step back in time.
There are around a dozen of these cinemas in Amsterdam. Most of them are cosy, pleasant places with a nice café, but there are at least three that stand out for their history and unique character: The Movies, De Uitkijk and Kriterion. The Movies and De Uitkijk vie for the honour of being the oldest cinema in Amsterdam, both around a century old. The interior of The Movies displays a beautiful, old-fashioned café and restaurant, while De Uitkijk, being more modest, looms large for its small yet stunning building.
Kriterion, for its part, is a student-run cinema that has been working since the end of World War II. Its big, high-ceiling bar with affordable prices is, in its own right, worth making a visit to. It hosts many events, amongst which is the Amsterdam Fantastic Film Festival, Imagine, which takes place in April.
On top of that, this year has seen the opening of the new building for the cinematheque and the film archive, The Eye; a wonderful space that has exceeded all expectations.
Then, there are the movie listings, which may be not as extensive as in Madrid or London but can aptly fill the needs of the regular film-goer. In addition to the August premieres, which include the indie flick Meek’s Cutoff (9 August) and Woody Allen’s To Rome with Love (23 August), the spectator can watch rereleases of films such as Leningrad Cowboys Go America (Aki Kaurismaki, 1989) or Happy-Go-Lucky (Mike Leigh, 2008) in unusual locations (check filmhuiscavia.nl). You can revisit The Lord of the Rings trilogy at Kriterion (2, 9 and 16 August) or check the best films of 2011 according to The Movies (including Black Swan, Drive and A Separation). And, of course, keep an eye on the broad program of The Eye,which includes both French and Dutch classics, as well as the exhibited Stanley Kubrick collection.
More inclined to blockbusters? Well, that’s covered by the Pathé cinemas which, among others, boast a beautiful building close to the Leidseplein (Pathé City) and, more remarkably, the gorgeous Pathé Tuschinski; a 1921 art deco theatre with a really impressive main auditorium, now showing The Dark Knight Rises.
A last tip: check the website www.cineville.nl for a comprehensive agenda and a really fair monthly subscription to watch any movie in 13 art house theaters, including The Eye.
Jaime Menchén López is passionate about all types of films, from Murnau’s ‘Sunrise’ to anything made by Fritz Lang to some of the Coen brothers films. The most recent film he feels very impressed by is ‘Take Shelter’.
He is in the process of learning Dutch in order to, amongst other things, be able to read subtitles. He’ll be writing about movies in AmsterDO in addition to his blog jaimemenchen.wordpress.com and UA magazine (united-academics.org/magazine).