Guidebook Screen: a city of art houses and multiplexes

Stage and screen

Screen: a city of art houses and multiplexes

Melburnians love to go to the cinema, observes the City Journal. “But let’s be honest, the local multiplex is overpriced, sticky and completely boring,” which is why The Astor in St Kilda is so special. “Going to The Astor makes going to the movies a special event and harks back to the golden era of cinema.” In true film nerd-style, says Concrete Playground, The Astor is “named after the eerie hotel from Stanley Kubrick's The Shining, whose dramatic art deco styling somewhat mirrors that of the historic, 80-year-old St Kilda cinema.” But with its dapper fitout and walls of movie memorabilia, the Astor “looks like a pretty inviting spot for sipping pre-movie vino or dissecting plotlines over a post-film feed. The drinks list has a boutique wine, craft beer, or signature cocktail to complement any kind of feature.”

The Rivoli in Hawthorn East has “Art Deco architecture and eight red-curtained screens, stepping through its doors is the equivalent of going back to the golden age of Hollywood,” says Concrete Playground. It’s “a beautiful example of Jazz or Streamline Moderne styles mixed with Art Deco,” writes Cinema Treasures. It opened in 1940 with Ray Milland in ‘French Without Tears’ and a total seating capacity of 1,644 in stalls and circle, and today has “a cute roof garden and bar overlooking the Camberwell street scene.”

The Nova in Carlton is a favourite of Melbourne cinefiles, writes Jade Bate in City Journal. “The famous purple palace of film shows art house, commercial and independent films from all around the world, as well as doing its part to support the Australian film industry.” The Nova has “a real sense of community” that you just can’t find at your local multiplex, she adds.

Meanwhile, there's nothing more Melbourne than a “a rooftop bar that houses a rooftop cinema,” says Hilary Simmons in Buzzfeed. Rooftop Cinema is “an inner-city institution just gets better and better as time goes by,” she writes -- “the program is packed with cult classics and indie gems, and you can hire a blanket if it gets chilly. Rooftop Burger Shack will even help you out with your choc-top and popcorn fix (and they do vego burgers as well as meaty numbers!).”

But wait, there’s more. Melbourne has a whole slew of outdoor cinema experiences, reports Time Out. There’s the Moonlight Cinema (“settle back with friends and family for a movie and BYO picnic on a balmy summer night, or let one of the food trucks take care of the edibles for you”), Lido on the Roof (an Art Deco building that has been “transformed into a ‘60s futuristic” themed space, adding lashings of contemporary design whilst respecting the building’s original features”) and the 50+ year-old Coburg Drive-In (“as you might hope for from an institution that first opened in 1965 (with a screening of Hitchcock’s Marnie), there’s a retro diner serving food and cinema staples, but with a modern twist – you can simply text your order from your vehicle … flicks start at dusk across three screens, and – as Village Cinemas run the joint – it tends to be your standard blockbuster fare”).

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