Hunting for the best movie theater in the Ukrainian capital turned out to be a harder task than it seemed. In fact, movies are something the whole Best Of team canâ€™t live without and therefore all of us have visited most of the city movie theaters â€“ at least those worth visiting. The thing is, though, that each theater on our â€œfavoritesâ€ list is good in its own way, but we tried our best to pick a single one that should suit almost anybodyâ€™s high demands, offering a perfect combination of good service and good movies.
High and low
Kyivska Rus can boast a cinema hall that is the biggest in town â€“ and with the biggest screen, too. Itâ€™s a perfect place to go to the premiere of a show even if you havenâ€™t booked any tickets â€“ the hall holds enough seats for everyone. However, the foyer of the cinema serves as a bar, a waiting room and entertainment center all in one with lots of game machines, always occupied by kids and TV sets broadcasting music videos very loudly. Altogether this provides a noisy and less classy atmosphere to the theater. Besides, the location by the out-of-the-way Lukyanivska metro didnâ€™t help Kyivska Rus win any more points from us.
The much more centrally situated Ukraina cinema, right by Maidan Nezalezhnosti, is a stylish high-end theater with two big halls and a bar for each. However, it was probably due to its location and expensive tickets â€“ from Hr 36 in the evenings â€“ that Ukraina soon became the main attraction for gilded youth and turned out to also be a fashionable hangout for them. More than one of the Best Of team members complained of having to endure silly giggling from some cool kids who wouldnâ€™t hush it for anything. The list of movies usually showing at Ukraina is pretty standard, though exclusive movie festivals such as French Spring Pre-Premiere Shows take place at Ukraina several times a year, sometimes offering movies in the original language. The Best Of team agreed that it appreciates Ukraina for what it is, but still decided to continue the search.
Odessa Kino, located at the top floor of the Ukraina department store, with its four medium-sized halls and decent service, attracted our attention mostly due to the possibility of watching movies in English on the weekends and Wednesdays. However, its location by the circus with no metro close by and its small screens failed to add anything to our first good impression.
By now Zhovten (October) has firmly established its reputation as an art-house cinema. One of the oldest Kyiv theaters, it still carries the atmosphere of old Soviet times when the movies admitted for distribution were very carefully selected â€“ which often meant not only the absence of anti-Soviet propaganda but of real trashy Western films too. You will seldom find real blockbusters at Zhovten; instead, youâ€™d see some alternative flicks such as â€œLast Daysâ€ by Gus Van Sant and festival movies that seem to be showing constantly there: The Czech film festival and two different Japanese anime festivals where shown in Zhovten just during the last month. Itâ€™s certainly great that Kyiv has at least one such cinema, but we found that it was just a little too alternative to be our pick â€“ and not only in terms of movies; the building itself didnâ€™t undergo much renovation since Soviet times, the seats at the cinema hall are not supplied with plastic holders for your corn and soda, the rows are too close to each other and the toilets are in a poor state, too.
The four-theater Butterfly chain is the most renowned in town. All the theaters are relatively new and up-to-date â€“ complete with bars with a great selection of food, tasty popcorn and no less than three comfortable halls â€“ allowing each one of them to carry a nice selection of films, about six at any given time. Butterfly at Petrivka and Butterfly DeLuxe differ mostly in location, though neither of them is very central. The one at Petrivka is probably a little more popular, being situated in a place that is almost always crowded with shoppers â€“ Best Of team members themselves often stopped there after shopping at the Petrivka book market or Megamarket; DeLuxe is a quieter and therefore more comfortable spot, with a bar decorated with black-and-white pictures of the movie stars of the past. However, the one spot that deserved the most attention was Butterfly Ultramarine, situated not far from the cityâ€™s main train terminal. Apart from the theater, Ultramarine also contains a nightclub, a bowling alley and other forms of entertainment. The cinema is supplied with six movie halls usually showing as many as eight movies at once, including one or two that can be seen only at Ultramarine. For instance this yearâ€™s Oscar favorites â€œRayâ€ and â€œWalk the Lineâ€ were distributed only at Ultramarine, as well as â€œChumscrubber,â€ which was showing in the original English with Russian subtitles. We all certainly paid Ultramarine its fair due for its impact on Kyivâ€™s movie scene. However, its not-quite-comfortable location didnâ€™t allow us to call it our best.
Kyiv crowned best
In fact it came as a surprise to us, but we realized that actually Kyiv cinema had everything we needed. Situated in the city center right by a metro station, this old-style columned building was renovated well enough without being deprived of its original charm. Heavy wooden doors welcome you into a spacious but cozy foyer with two ticket office windows and no game machines of any kind to cause irritating noises. Several small flights of stairs lead you up to a room with a bar that doesnâ€™t have a large selection of food like the ones at the Butterfly outfits, but it has the most important â€“ popcorn and refreshing drinks. The two halls of Kyiv are as sumptuous as a palace and the seats are as comfortable as could be. The films they show range from Hollywood hits such as â€œBasic Instinct 2â€ to more artsy films often showing only at Kyiv cinema. Moreover, they play the movies in English with Russian subtitles. During the last two months the theater has screened â€œBroken Flowersâ€ by Jim Jarmusch, â€œThe Libertineâ€ and Terry Gilliamâ€™s â€œTideland.â€ The ability to see those movies â€“ and in their original language â€“ is already enough to win Kyiv the best rating. But thereâ€™s more. Somehow, even though there are never too many empty seats during screenings, the theater never looks crowded â€“ you wonâ€™t see many people hanging out either in front or inside, which altogether provides a nice relaxed atmosphere. What more could we ask for?
(19 Chervonoarmiyska, 234-7381)
www.kievkino.com.ua Tickets: Hr 10 to Hr 40.by Alexandra Matoshko, Kyiv Post Staff Writer