Metrograph officially joined the ranks of New York’s great independent cinemas when it opened its doors to a line of eager filmgoers today. With a decor that coyly mixes throwbacks to glamorous Old Hollywood with the industrial chic favored by today’s L-train types, the theater’s small team and highly curated programming will likely please both the cinephile who feels that French New Wave just isn’t getting enough attention these days, and those who simply want a chance to finally watch The Blob in 35mm.
The cinema, near the corner of Ludlow and Canal, marked its opening with a 2 p.m. showing of the quintessential New York classic Taxi Driver, shown in the big theater (which holds 175 people). Woody Allen’s The Purple Rose of Cairo will play later in the evening in the smaller theater (which holds 50). Fun fact: the theater’s seats are actually made from reclaimed wood beams from Brooklyn’s Domino Sugar Refinery.
Aliza Ma, Metrograph’s head of programming, told us the opening-weekend picks centered around the topic of “filmgoing.” The “Surrender to the Screen” series will carry on until March 8. “After that we’re starting a retrospective of the French Second Wave director Jean Eustache– we’re importing all his film prints from Paris. It will go on for five days, and we’re covering his entire filmography,” she said.
From its third week onward, Metrograph will also begin showing new films, but the team’s pet project continues to be the re-release of old films in 35mm, as well as organizing themed retrospectives with directors and actors in attendance.
The airy cinema, which was an empty warehouse before heavy construction began last summer (you can still kind of tell), will also house a bookshop and a restaurant on the second-floor gallery, both of which are scheduled to open later this month. Ma explained that the bookshop will be run by a curator who specializes in “rare and fine books,” and is planning to set up a collection of out-of-prints titles, reprinted screenplays, and a rotating selection based on the cinema program’s theme of the week.
With popcorn house-made by the Metrograph’s new chef (who will be helming the restaurant) and a selection of international treats, this seems like a chic place to bring your Goddard-obsessed love interest on a first date. “We want to create a prestigious moviegoing experience,” Metrograph CEO Ethan Oberman said right before today’s screening of Taxi Driver.
But don’t worry, these cinephiles know how to have fun, too: if events such as Noah Baumbach’s “Dream Double Feature” (Babe: Pig in the City, followed by Kubrick’s Eyes Wide Shut) on March 5 are any indication, there should be plenty of variety in the programming to keep anyone entertained.
Metrograph, 7 Ludlow Street at Canal Street, Lower East Side. 212-660-0312