Monday, November 05, 2007

[Insert "Puttin' on the Ritz" joke here]

The Mrs. and me went to the new Alamo Downtown Saturday afternoon and saw Wes Anderson's "The Darjeeling Limited." The movie was your pretty typical WA movie, with all his stylistic elements present and accounted for. Unfortunately, the characters were lacking something, and I'm not talking about Natalie Portman lacking pants, which was fine by me.

As to the theater itself...

Ok, I had to go back to the car for something, so I wasn't paying super-close attention as I walked in, but the first thing I noticed, or didn't notice, was anything identifying the place as an Alamo Drafthouse. There is of course the neon Ritz sign, which I'm glad was kept, but otherwise I don't remember seeing anything that said "Alamo." Maybe it's still to come. Just inside the doorway on the right was a Mondo Tees counter. There's not much on display here other than binders to flip thru to find your iron-on. A little further in on the left was the ticket counter. It was non-descript, just a counter with your standard service-industry touchscreen device. Nothing say what movie at what time in what theater. And at the back of the lobby were the restrooms. We didn't use these until after our movie, at which time a table selling copies of the book "Little Children" had been set up, almost blocking off access to the restrooms. And we just guessed that they were the restrooms, as again, there was no signage pointing out the way. There were signs denoting men's and women's but we didn't see them until we got right up to them. Something I really like that the Alamo seems to be doing (on S. Lamar and here, at least) is that they design the restrooms so there's no door, meaning you don't have to worry if the person exiting before you washed their hands or not. Nice.

Our flick was in the small theatre (100 or so seats), which is upstairs to the right. The big room is... upstairs to the left. (No signs) Pictures taken throughout the history of the Ritz line the stairwells. You enter the auditorium at the front, beside the screen. There's six or so long rows and then a few more in the back that have maybe five-six less seats. I was immediately hit by many odors of newness--new carpet, new carpet glue, new paint--and wondered if that was going to give me a headache. It didn't; hooray! This screen is not quite stadium seating, but I wasn't as bugged by that as at the Village. Unfortunately, there is only one way to exit the seating rows so make sure you empty your bladder before the movie (there's also no breaks in the tables like the Village and Old Downtown). Another improved feature is that the paper and menus no longer live on the table. Menus get slots under the table every couple of seats and the paper gets a holder on the back side of the tables.

The menu seemed to be pretty much the same. Our drinks and popcorn did what they needed to do, i.e. sate us. It was between meals for us so no cooked food. Picture and sound were fine. There was a little flicker when they started rolling the film, which made me wonder if the projector was stabilized but it went away before too long. And as it was a late afternoon show, 6th Street was not in full effect so there was no exterior noise to fight.

I'm curious to see the big theatre. I wonder if the rows in there have aisles at either end or not. I'm guessing they don't and that it's due to the narrow property. I also want to check out the VIP boxes they got up in there. 

Overall, not a bad addition to the family. We liked stepping out onto 6th Street where we could turn left and walk down to the Jackalope for a beer while figuring out where to eat dinner (Moonshine's). I'd like to see something saying you're at the Alamo Downtown b/c it's an awesome place and it should be trying to tell everyone as such. Also, some information/directional signs inside. I think this is something that will happen and they maybe just ran out of time.


At 11/20/2007 11:00:00 PM, Anonymous BDF said...

For NC4OM, at least, gigantic clusterfuck getting out of the big theater. One way in, one way out. And then another cluster-eff trying to fight through the waiting crowd to get to the bathroom. Lack of signage was a problem for me; I tried to open a locked door to Idon'tknowwhere (Elika tried to enter the kitchen). These things were dissatisfying to me.


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