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The Mazza Gallerie General Cinema’s Club Cinema opened four weeks ago. Now, the days when my pal Jukey and I could have been described as faithful presences at the opening of every envelope in town are long over—envelope-openings rarely offer drink tickets, and the music tends to be hopelessly lame. But we couldn’t let the beat go on at the Mazza Gal’s new club without at least putting in a cameo.
First of all, be aware that democracy has overtaken this particular local club scene: There is no list. Not only will they let anyone in, but everybody has to pay. That said, the matinee prices are reasonable—only $6 to enter plus a $2 “handling fee,” which means that the usually surly door girl offers us a cheery greeting—and well worth it. (The evening prices run from $9.75 for plebe seats to $12.50 for “Club” seats.) Gliding past the entrance to the regular theater—teeming with nobodies, touching our Prada bags and ogling—we swept up the red-carpeted hallway toward a spectacularly Hollywoodish double door of frosted glass with a gigantic star of clear glass etched in the center.
The lounge area sports a handsome wooden bar with a small but serviceable selection of boozerie, a chilled case full of salads and sandwiches, and a small array of candy. Armed with some Milk Duds and a couple of glasses of Coppola Vineyards’ chardonnay—rich and fruity, not full of oak and tin like those California labels not headed by great directors—we made our way to our seats. “Stadium seating,” the door girl had warned us, meaning nothing is reservable except our entrance. Still, we found marvelous seats in the third row, leather (ahem, Ultraleather) and cushy, with wide wooden armrests and a nest for the Knob Creek. We spread out all our candies, winter gloves, and pens, and still had room for the notebook covered with abandoned tic-tac-toe games we played just before the movie.
Which brings us to the movie, and the fact that, once you’re in, once you’ve stroked the leather seat and admired the school-desk-sized armrest, once you’re giddy with the glee of drinking actual alcohol inside a movie theater…that’s all there is. The Club Cinema is just a theater, albeit a plush one, but unlike its nearest relative, the Cinema ‘n’ Drafthouse chain, it doesn’t have the lively frat-house/supper-club layout or the attentive wait service, and you can’t smoke. (There is a chic little restaurant enigmatically called “r” just outside the cinema; you can reserve a table there if you call ahead.) If you’d like a third glass of Coppola chardonnay, and you can wrest your sleeve from your date who’s whining (again!) about having to drive home, you have to slink out of that leather seat and fetch it yourself.
And another thing: General Cinema seems to believe that because of the plush surroundings, the films on offer should be equally highfalutin—a mistake the Drafthouse has never made (although I don’t recommend the nachos if Big Night is playing; they’ll just make you sad and gassy.) Having only Angela’s Ashes and The Hurricane to choose from, Jukey chose Angela’s Ashes, but there’s something depressing about eating a turkey club when Emily Watson has to make do with a boiled sheep’s head. The Mazza Gallerie Club Cinema is a great place to see a movie if you were going anyway and don’t drink that much; but until they loosen up, I’ll be at the Skyline with a smuggled bottle of mezcal watching Galaxy Quest. —Arion Berger