By Ted Zagraniski, Culture Editor
If you’re sick of the cookie-cutter megaplex, boy do I have a theater for you! Only in a place as unique and (quietly) bohemian as Cambridge could you find a place like this. Gone are the days when you had to dig endlessly on the Internet to find those rare movie gems that weren’t playing on any of the 10, 20, 30 screens at your city’s super-theater. Now all you need for a nostalgic theater experience a la 1995 is your Charlie Card. Let me introduce you to Kendall Square Cinema.
Built in and operated by the same company since 1995, Kendall Square Cinema is a nine-screen multiplex located between Kendall and Central squares. Every screen now uses digital projection and sound technology, so the quality of the viewing experience at this theater is essentially identical to your average American cinema. The intriguing façade facing Binney Street beckons patrons into a small lobby, befitting the overall scale of the building and its generally more thoughtful attitude towards film. There is a snack bar – of course – and a staff of friendly people dedicated to your enjoyment of the film of your choice. The facility is clean and functional, and on the day I was there it was relatively quiet. I’m sure on a weekend night it picks up, but I would not expect you to have any need to dodge gaggles of bobbleheaded wags or cellphone obsessives on your way into or out of any show.
What makes Kendall Square Cinema truly special, however, is not the building – comfortably sized and appointed though it may be. The reason I went – and the reason you should go – is for the films. Kendall Square Cinema specializes in “independent film, foreign language cinema, restored classics and documentaries”. A quick look at the Kendall Square Cinema website (http://www.landmarktheatres.com/Market/Boston/Boston_Frameset.htm) proves at even the most cursory glance that this theater offers truly unique fare. I myself saw “Black Fish”, although that particular documentary on the treatment of Orcas (Killer Whales) in captivity is no longer playing. At the moment Kendall Square Cinema is offering two foreign pictures (one Afghan, one French), a Hugh Jackman/Jake Gyllenhaal thriller, a Cate Blanchett dramatic comedy, three feature-length documentaries, and the comedy that won the 2013 Sundance Film Festival Award for Best Screenplay. Frankly, no megaplex anywhere could possibly compare.
Logistics at Kendall Square Cinema leave something to be desired. For one thing, the student and military discounts are only valid Monday through Thursday. Parking is abundant (in the adjacent garage), but the same cannot be said for transit access. The easiest ways to get to Kendall Square Cinema are via the #69 bus from Harvard Yard or the Red Line stop at Kendall Square. Either way, the walk from stop to destination is about ten minutes. But honestly, for a theater which seems to regard life as a journey seen through myriad lenses, your personal journey to the front door should just be taken as your individual pilgrimage to an American shrine to thoughtful cinematic art. I encourage you to make Kendall Square Cinema a part of your next study break – or date night.