I like to go to the movies, and I am nostalgic when I think about the theatre of old, smelling of popcorn and sugar, with its bright yellow lights behind the concessions counters, with ushers at the door with classic uniforms. I remember fondly my trips to Le Cinéma de Paris, on the Carré D’Youville, which is now Le Cabaret du Capitole, or at Place Charest. The movie experience was almost solemn: movie-goers were not bombarded by video games, advertisements and loud music and noises of all kinds. And people could actually walk to the movies before the trend became to build theatres in big box complexes, squeezed between a Wal Mart and a Home Depot.
In Ottawa, there are two classic old-fashioned theatres, the Bytowne and the Mayfair; who have been open for 62 and 76 years respectively.
I admit that I do not go as often as I would like, but I was very excited to go on a double-date to see Che Part 1: The Argentine, the first part of two about the life of Ernesto Guevarra. The Bytowne has it on its schedule until the 12th of March. You may want to consider the special 4-hour Guevara-thon, featuring both Part 1 and Part 2: Guerilla, on March 11th or 12 only.
It was a cold and windy night, and we were impressed by Théo and Laura, who had picked up tickets ahead of time and were waiting patiently outside, on Rideau street, even though the doors had been opened for a while by the time we showed up. Parking is not easy in the area, but the Bytowne offers some directions and tips and even a parking map.
We walked in the tiny vestibule and went on through. The Bytowne is basically divided in three, a tiny vestibule where you purchase the tickets, a larger hall where the camdy bar is located, and the theatre itself, a very large room with a balcony, with bathrooms at the back. It was pretty crowded, as expected. But with almost 800 seats, we had no problem finding seats for the four of us. Talking of the seats, they are fairly comfortable, although you do get the feeling that you are sinking in them.
Once we were seated, Melissa decided she would go line-up to get one of the greatest things at the Bytowne: popcorn with real butter.
That is right. Not the oily concoction they serve at multiplexes, no, real butter. There is nothing like a bag of fresh, warm popcorn topped with butter and chased down by an ice-cold Pepsi. And at the Bytowne, they do it well, most of the time. The popcorn was quite fresh, tasty but not too salty, and the butter was spread nicely right through the bag, making our fingers buttery all the way down the bag. The problem with butter, however, is that you need to eat your bag fairly fast. It doesn’t take too long to make the popcorn cold and kind of mushy. The usual commercial “butter-flavored” yellow goo does not have that effect on popcorn and while it doesn’t taste like butter, the popcorn does, thanks to a secret ingredient. Since most movie popcorn is popped in coconut oil, well, it is not low in calories.
For a bag of popcorn and a large drink, it costed us about $7.50. For those wondering why it is that popcorn costs so much in theatres, find out here.
As for the movie itself, I liked it. It is an interesting and realistic war movie, not much is there on the motivations, but still. You can read real reviews here, here and here.