When it’s February in New York and you live in the East Village luxury rentals at EVGB, a night out can feel like a cozy night in when the neighborhood is an extension of your home and the old-school New York charm and indie programming of Village East Cinema can be found just blocks from your doorstep. Originally built by architect Harrison Wiseman and developer Louis N. Jaffee in 1925, the building is one of the last still standing of the old Yiddish theater district, and has enjoyed a storied past as a venue for both theater and cinema.
This is a theater whose connection to the history of New York can be felt in its walls, and whose programming reflects its identity as a cultural center for the neighborhood. In the days of lookalike multiplexes, this is a place that has helped define the neighborhood for a century. It’s the perfect venue to catch the most exciting indie up-and-comers and to indulge in some serious cinematic nostalgia. Let’s take a look at what’s happening at Village East Cinema this month.
The theater’s Black Is the New Black series, in celebration of Black History Month, features classics such as “Coming to America” and “Do the Right Thing,” both of which feature, and even provide portraits of, the New York City of recent decades. The series also features Oprah Winfrey’s film debut, “The Color Purple,” and the Janet Jackson vehicle “Poetic Justice,” both of which feature powerful performances from powerful women that can only be fully appreciated on the big screen.
Another irresistible repertory program is Musical Mondays, where you can indulge in classic musicals with shameless abandon. While the emphasis is on music, dancing, and fun, the brilliance and art house edge of the Village East curators shines with the choices in their lineup, which include “Hedwig and the Angry Inch,” “Fame,” and “Footloose.”
In many ways, Village East Cinema is not just showing movies, it is keeping the New York cinephile tradition alive and well. This is nowhere more evident than in the new films on the theater’s nightly roster. This month’s art film must-sees include: “If Beale Street Could Talk,” “The Favourite,” “Vice,” “Cold War,” and “Mary Queen of Scots.” With a list like that, and the temperatures plummeting, it seems only right to make a night of watching Emma Stone or Saoirse Ronan backstabbing in period dress a weekly, or even nightly, treat.