This past weekend I toddled the family off down to the local AMC multiplex to see Paddington (Side note: AMC Willowbrook has free soda refills now!). We're a big moviegoer family. My wife and I met at a movie theater and named our daughter for a friend we met at another. We love paying $50 to sit in a dark room eating popcorn and candy while having giant people tell us a story.
That said, there are a surprising number of ways that you can indulge a passion for going to the movie that doesn't actually involving, well, going to the movies. Here's how.
10. Alamo Drafthouse Rolling Roadshow On occasion the Alamo Drafhouse chain brings the movies to you, which is nice because seriously why are they both out in the boonies? Using an inflatable screen they show films in Market Square and the parking lot of the Kirby Whole Foods. Mostly the movies are staples like The Princess Bride and Ghostbusters. They're also free, but you might want to invest in some collapsible chairs if you're going to attend.
9. Discovery Green Bank of America sponsors similar events on Discovery Green, with a slight more emphasis on family fare. This Friday they're showing Edward Scissorhands, with Oz the Great and Powerful and Labyrinth to come in the following weeks. Like the Rolling Roadshow these films are free and bringing a blanket and chair is advisable.
8. Moon Tower Inn Tuesday nights are movie nights at Moon Tower Inn whenever the weather is nice. You have to call if you want to know what they're showing or just show up because they're website literally just says "Get Off The Damn Internet And Get Your Ass To 3004 Canal St." though their Facebook page is a little more tech friendly. Still, you really shouldn't need a reason to go out for beer and off-the-wall hot dogs on a Tuesday. I hear the horror movies they screen around Halloween are really killer, and they just had a mini-Keanu Reeves film festival so clearly they are doing God's work.
7. Miller Outdoor Theatre There are a ton of great things to see at Miller, and movies are among them. They get a bit more diverse in their selections than the other big outdoor movie shows with both Hollywood blockbusters like Amazing Spider-Man and old classics like Shall We Dance?. They tend to group films in themes, and sometimes the start times are earlier -- and therefore easier if you're dealing with little kids and don't want them up to late -- because of the shading Miller provides. You also don't have to bring your own seating, which is a plus.
6. ComicpaloozaOur annual geek explosion is coming up pretty soon, and it's a fantastic place to see films that are very hard to see otherwise. Last year there was a really excellent collection of short films based on Stephen King novels and short stories. Indie horror films, niche documentaries, and rare films also get space. Just another reason to attend as if you needed one.
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5. Neo Benshi Now for something completely off the wall. Benshi is a form of Japanese art where actors live narrate silent films or provide translations for foreign ones. The folks at BooTown and Beta Theater do the same in a very weird way at PJ's Sports Bar on the first Tuesday of the month. Two performers reinterpret clips from mainstream modern movies for a baffled and hopefully delighted audience. If you want to weird up your movie-going experience then this is it.
4. Café Brasil You have to keep an eye on their Facebook or Twitter accounts to know about them, but Café Brasil has some really badass movie nights. Just recently they screened John Ford's The Searchers, easily one of the best Westerns of all time. In addition, they host get-togethers for the local film community so it's a great place to get introduced to that scene if you have an interest in doing so.
3. Willow Waterhole Like the Rolling Roadshow and Discovery Green Willow Waterhole occasionally holds family film screenings outside in the park along with all the jazz fests and other park fare, The thing that Waterhole has over the rest of the similar screenings is that Willow Waterhole is this quiet oasis out of the way on the southwest side that has all the glory of being out in nature without making you do it in Houston traffic. Go for the day and wander the trails by the water before snuggling up to catch and you can call the day well spent.
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2. First Down Dads Movie Nights They only do it once a year, but it's really killer when they do it. First Down Dads is dedicated to strengthening the bond between dads and their children over Texans football. One of their activities is their annual movie night held in the Methodist Training Center. Typically they are sports movies like Little Giants and Air Bud, though last year's was Chicken Little. It's a great alternative movie going experience for football families.
1. Asia Society Texas Center Plenty of museums and cultural heritage foundations in Houston host festivals and festival entries, but none seem to do it as well as the Asia Society. They really go all out when it comes to finding the best in Asian cinema across all genres and popularity and bringing them to town on a regular basis. ReelAbilities, the Indian Film Festival, the Asian Pacific American Film Festival, Children's Film Festival Seattle...the list goes on and on. If there's a really excellent movie that ties in at all with the myriad of cultures represented by Asians around the world odds are not only will Asia Society probably screen it but they'll also bring in the filmmakers to talk about it. The programming there is always daring, special, and worth your time.