On Friday, I wrote about the sale to a local church of the Tivoli, one of St. Louis’ oldest movie theaters. I said I doubted I’d return there because the screen fare was destined to be different than the edgy, indie-heavy films that were projected onto its big screen for years. The truth is, I’ve long had a love-hate relationship with the place.
On the positive side, the Tivoli’s popcorn was always delicious, and you could get a small bag at its concession stand without needing an increase in the limit on your credit card. The sound system was fairly good considering how large its main auditorium is. And you never had to worry about the audio from its two smaller theaters overwhelming the sound from the quiet, pensive movie in the bigger one. That’s because the Tivoli never showed big, effects-driven blockbusters like “Transformers,” “Fast and Furious,” or any of the 547 “Star Wars” titles. Thus, unlike too many multiplexes, no explosions or booming soundtracks leaked through the walls.
Unfortunately, the Tivoli was never a comfortable place to view a movie. Its old-fashioned seats (probably installed 25 years ago during its last renovation) were no match for the plush recliners found in more modern theaters. Its seats were there so long they wore down to the point they offered approximately the same tush-cushion as double-ply toilet paper. Even for attendees not as large as I am, sitting in them caused much squirming in the second half of any movie over an hour long, followed by a need for spinal realignment upon returning to a standing position.
The main reason I don’t foresee returning to the Tivoli is its new ownership. I’m told that the clergyman now overseeing the place is fairly progressive, so perhaps the movies shown there henceforth will not be as tightly restricted as they would be under ownership by a fundamentalist sect. I doubt it and, regardless, it’s still under the auspices of a church and — as a lifelong atheist — I make it a policy not to spend my money in businesses that financially benefit religious organizations of any kind. Think of it as anti-tithing.
That might mean missing out on some movies, particularly if the sole remaining arthouse in town (Plaza Frontenac Cinema) doesn’t exhibit them. But the good thing about the modern era is that they’ll all eventually find their way onto a streaming service or DVDs I can borrow from the public library.
Then I can sit back in my oh-so-comfortable recliner at home and watch them — without having to consult an orthopedist afterwards.