The Kent Theatre in Flatbush isn't just a movie theater—it's a movie star. A fixture in the neighborhood for many decades, the space was a favorite hangout of a teenage Woody Allen in the 1950s. Perhaps that was the reason he chose the Kent when scouting locations for The Purple Rose of Cairo, his paean to the early, less spaceship-filled days of cinema. The movie house still retains its vintage charm today, welcoming patrons with dramaturgical masks on its marquee and new releases on its three screens.
With an American flag hanging from its brick façade and its name scrawled in red cursive atop an old-fashioned marquee, The Pavilion Theater looks like it sprung from the screen of a 1950s film. But in reality, it stands right in the middle of Brooklyn. The two-story neighborhood picture house combines both of these worlds, whisking away audiences to another era with its quaint charm and sepia ushers while staying current with a rotating roster of newly released films.
Inside the pitch-black Touch Tunnel, you're completely blind. On your hands and knees, you crawl forward, relying solely on your other senses to lead you through the darkness. The tunnel is only 80 feet long, but the exit might as well be miles away. After finally emerging safe (and sighted) from the most popular exhibit at Liberty Science Center, a family could still spend four more hours at the many hands-on attractions and experiences designed to enlighten visitors about the power and fun of science.
All told, Liberty Science Center houses a dozen galleries for interactive exploration. Visitors can perform surgery on a 3D robotic simulator; tip-toe across a steel girder hovering 18 feet in the air; or even connect with more than 90 different animals, including giant fish and a family of tamarin monkeys. At I Explore, young scientists ages 2?5 learn about the world around them while launching colorful balls into the air or using a xylophone made of stone slabs. When it's time to relax, the whole family can visit the largest IMAX dome theater in the U.S., which transports onlookers from outer space to the deepest depths of the oceans and just about everywhere in between.
Tribeca Cinemas screens the latest works by renowned national and international filmmakers, but not on a new-movie-every-Friday schedule. Instead, Tribeca's two theaters hosts festivals throughout the year, including the famed Tribeca Film Festival, the Architecture & Design Film Festival, NY Television Festival, and Vision Fest. In between fests, the theater's curators stick to foreign films and repertory classics, which they screen using both digital projections and projectors for 35mm and 16mm reels. They also do private screenings and theater rentals.
But entertainment at Tribeca Cinemas isn't just limited to what's onscreen. Soirees at The Varick Room, the theater's industrial-chic event venue, run the gamut from film premieres and rehearsal dinners to lavish cocktail parties. Backed by glowing red letters that spell "LIQUORS," bartenders whip up cocktails themed around each event, while the wait-staff distributes beverages and bottle service to a soundtrack of live entertainment.
Based in the West Village, Film Forum is an autonomous non-profit cinema house that has the wonderful distinction of being open for more than four decades. The theater’s three screens run a variety of American independent features and foreign art films every day of the year, and curates in-house film festivals, documentary showings and retrospectives as well. These special events often bring writers, directors, filmmakers and authors to the stage for lectures and Q & A sessions, which can render the fewer than 200-seat spaces a bit cramped at times. But for the cinematically passionate, Film Forum remains a mecca of quality film screenings and rare archival showings, all run by a core group of buffs and hobbyists who truly enjoy the work they do.
Founded in 1961 by Ellen Stewart, La MaMa Experimental Theatre Club has been a home for artists of all kinds, especially those whose work is not considered to be mainstream or conventional. Sam Shephard, Phillip Glass, Amy Sedaris, Harvey Fierstein and more have all been a part of this historic East Village performance space, which encourages all kinds of art – think everything from puppetry to poetry reading, dance concerts to beatbox championships – and offers several in-house programs, as well as special events all year round. Visitors can experience any number of alternative artistic happenings within the theater’s casual black box atmosphere, with down-played surroundings and non-fussy seating that help guests focus on the performances at hand.