BEST BUDGET MOVIE THEATER (1999)
Okay, so some might argue that this classic neighborhood theater's five-dollar gate charge bans it from consideration as the best budget cinema in town--but we beg to differ. First of all, five dollars isn't $6.75. And second, what kind of bargain is a two-buck movie ticket if the movie is a waste of time? Which brings us to the Parkway's singular definition of what you might call the "budget movie": No Hollywood blockbusters or bloated, trendy "independent" films here. In the last couple of years, the Parkway has split its schedule between highly worthy reprises of Uptown runoffs (e.g., The Eel, The Celebration, Buffalo '66); the occasional mainstream film of merit (e.g., One True Thing, Zero Effect); the annual Twin Cities Black Film Festival in the fall; and, every so often, exclusive niche titles snared from the coast-based curators of our town's corporate artsyplex (e.g., Unmade Beds, Fireworks, Carla's Song, God Said "Ha!"). Longtime Parkway owner Bill Irvine is a die-hard movie lover who clearly cares about the quality of what he brings to his audience. And did we mention the theater's huge screen and spacious seating area, its peerless popcorn, or its owner's habit of talking cinema with his customers and actually taking requests? In brief, the Parkway is an affordable throwback to the days when independent neighborhood theaters booked high-quality movies to suit the particular needs of their discerning clientele--and charged a reasonable price, to boot.