Berkshires After Dark: Images Cinema a hometown favorite


WILLIAMSTOWN -- It's a blast to hit the road for an adventure, but sometimes it's good to be home, or close to it.

I had an absolutely fantastic weekend in New York City to celebrate my friend Aurélie's birthday with a group of friends. We dined out, shopped, took in the bustling sights and sounds and went to a Stephen Marley concert. I loved every single second of it, but when I finally got back to Williamstown Sunday night, I breathed a sigh of relief. As much as enjoy the action of the big city, I'm still a small town girl at heart, who loves a bit of quiet and prefers the sight of a star-lit night over the brightness of Times Square.

Earlier this month, my friend Gabriel drove up from Pittsfield for dinner and to check out a movie (Hayao Miyazaki's "The Wind Rises") at Images Cinema, which has become one of my favorite amenities of living in the town. I feel pretty fortunate that from where I live, I can walk to a food co-op, restaurants, international art museums, hiking trails and parks and an independent cinema, the latter of which I walked to on Monday night.

This time it was to see Wes Anderson's latest film, "The Grand Budapest Hotel."

Though I arrived on foot, there's plenty of parking on the street and in the public lot on Spring Street. There are also a variety of restaurants on the street, should you want a pre- or post-show drink or meal.

When I got to the entrance, the 10 people in the little lobby made it seem full of life. In advent of Earth Day, members of the Williamstown COOL Committee were teaching people about and selling energy-efficient LED light bulbs. A couple of college-age looking students were rummaging through a box of movie posters up for grabs while waiting to buy their tickets. There was a rack of T-shirts for sale to help raise funds for the cinema, which is listed as a nonprofit.

I was flattered when the woman at the ticket counter (who I later realized was managing director Janet Curran, with a shorter haircut since the last time I saw her) asked me if I was a Williams College student and eligible for a discount. I'm a terrible liar but was glad to pay full-price for a ticket and a bottle of water ($12) and hurried into the theater, since a preview had already started running. Previews, by the way, are brief, and typically include films to be shown within the month and in-house promotional videos.

When Gabriel and I had visited, we both picked up homemade packages of chocolate-covered pretzels, which were amazing, and absolutely worth the extra calories. The rest of the concessions stand includes a mix of locally sourced and organic snacks and drinks, as well as your more traditional, commercial candies, like M&Ms and Twizzlers.

The seats in the 150-seat theater are comfortable and the sound and picture quality is modern. Though there are blankets up for grabs in the back, I suggest bringing an extra layer, as the theater tends to get cool.

The film itself was thoroughly entertaining and won't disappoint Wes Anderson fans. As the credits roll at the end, look out for Carl Sprague's name; he's a Berkshire resident who's now worked for the art department on three Anderson films.

As I left the theater, the staff smiled and wished all the patron's a good night. Fliers stacked in a little mailbox outside the theater listed an ample roster of upcoming events, including three free independent and documentary film screenings, and a Grand Budapest-inspired pastry-making workshop -- things you won't find at big chain movieplexes.

I can respect and appreciate that, and how Images is always changing. On May 1, they'll host a new art exhibit there by Richard Harrington. This year, they're also looking for a new executive director, as Sandra Thomas will be moving on after 12 years at the helm.

Whoever steps up next, I hope they'll continue on with the mission and drive to provide independent, foreign and thought-provoking films and events in Berkshire County. For me, the presence of Images Cinema makes my neighborhood a fun and exciting place.


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