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Sundries
...a sweatshop of moxie

Friday, May 19, 2006

The Premier Way

Sometimes I cannot contain my excitement, my joy, and my sense of wonder about the place I live in -- South Florida.

And thanks to Sundries, this blog of mine, I have been able to escort you around more tangible locales of my haunts and lurks, than those located in my sidebar.

I have a SPECIAL, deeply reverent love of cinema, whose picture palaces of yesteryear, I consider to be almost holy.

But as I have said, Florida is a young State in this young Union.

Its youthful buoyancy may strike some as lacking some of that much-needed grit which only true ancientness can bestow on buildings -- structures you know have been there forever, and like a fond lover, you forgive the sags and blemishes of age.

But I personally love the brand-spanking new, perhaps a rebellious pose of the girl from that mediaeval wonder, Oxford.

The following travellogue is a tribute to the finest moviehouse I know, which has the kind of professional luxuriousness that can only exist in America.

Oh, there are multiplexes all over the world which may rival it in beauty.

But I dare one of you to compare the pampering it offers to its customer, to anything you have near you.

There's a reason The Muvico Palace is very well named.


THE MUVICO PALACE 20 -- THE PREMIER






The Muvico Palace is located in Boca Raton, Florida, home to every little old, well-to-do Jewish man and woman on earth. In fact, when you land in Ben Gurion Airport, there's a sign there that says, "We're all meeting at Irv's in Boca".

When this influx of elderly Jewish people arrived in Boca, after South Beach was no longer inhabitable because Ingrid Caseres didn't have a kosher lounge at Liquid, they needed a place to hang out, and watch a flick.

Thus was born Hamid Hashemi's Muvico empire -- oh irony of ironies, this Iranian immigrant who done good, so good, he was buttah.

Knowing his clientele from the area, which include the gratin from Palm Beach, he built this multiplex, with the specific intent to create the ultimate civilised moviegoing experience, perhaps in the world. Or at least, Schenectady.

When you approach it, from I-95, you are struck again by the fact that almost everything in Florida is designed to look like either a:

1- Golf Course
2- Country Club
3- Hotel Spa and Resort


And boy, did we hit the motherlode with the Muvico Palace 20.







Our journey has many detours, young grasshopper.

And our first, is to explain to you that the Muvico Palace is actually two very different moviehouses, in one.

There's the Muvico Palace downstairs, which is plenty great, and fine on its own.

And then there's the hidden jewel, The Premier. Its purpose? To give you the most exclusive theatre-going experience in your life.

See these two Q-tips lining up outside the Palace Box Office, their bouffant hairdos and trusses going limp in the Florida humidity?

If you decide to plump down for the Premier instead, you'll never have to brave another 99F queue again.

But hang on a minute. Since we're here, let's check out the regular Muvico Palace proper.

With gas prices this high, we might as bleedin' well.







This moviehouse has the Egyptian grandiosity of size of the Muvico Paradise, but its decor more than reminds one of the Muvico Parisian, located not 20 miles away in West Palm Beach.

I really miss King Tut in the foyer, though.







The pizza here is also $6.50, but at least they serve it, and TCBY yoghurt, which I love.

And for those of you without sufficient funds to pay for the Number 4 jumbo-combo, you'll be happy to know there's a pawn shop nearby called the Happy Hocker.

No. I'm not kidding.







Sneak peak! This is a copy of the Premier seats we'll be sitting in, a little later on.

This is the loveseat, which is perfect for make-out sessions (not that I would know that...YET). The individual seat is far roomier, if you can believe that.

One lady, who passed by it as I took the pic, told her husband with that pleading tone women have around Christmas or garage sales, "Oh look, there's the seat they have upstairs. Can't we go one day?".

To which the harried hubby replied, "No."

Husband 1, Wifey 0.







You know from the other Muvicos I have shown you, that this chain offers an amenity I think is pure genius: a nanny service for those families who can't afford a babysitter all the live-long time.

And what's more, it's FREE. Look for yourselves what it offers your young'un.







Computers!

And the kids are all shapes, sizes, races, faces, and socio-economic levels, so that will please even the snooty progressive who wants his kid to mingle with the oppressed hoi-polloi, but doesn't want to risk lice en route to Yale.







I can't get over how clean, safe, and above-all fun this moviehouse romper room looks.

I'm not a parent, unless you count chihuahuas, but I'd trust my kid to be safe in this Playhouse -- wouldn't you with yours?

Dude, they have Legos. 'Nuff said.







But speaking of the huddled masses, yearning to watch Tom Cruise bomb in Mission Impossible III, it's time we were on our true way -- to the Premier section of the Muvico Palace.

The Box Office has its own air-conditioned entrance, giving you the immediate impression that hey, this is a special kind of place, for a special kind of moviegoer.

You. Me. We.







From its teak-panelled walls, to its too tastefully attired attendants (in coats and ties, like sniffy bankers), the Box Office immediately sets the tone that will follow.

Of course, this tone becomes a screech the moment you plunk down the $18 dollars needed for one ticket.

See, it's 9 dollars for an adult ticket downstairs, and 9 dollars for the privilege of being upstairs...since you MUST be over 21 to enter the Premier -- trust me, they card you, especially if you're Jenna Bush.

Yeah, 18 dollars is steep, but for this you get, complimentary valet-parking, and a complimentary bag of popcorn.

They'll even butter it for you, complimentarily.







And I may like to mingle with the rich Jews and WASPS in the Premier, but I'm no snob. Well, not much.

I love Tyler Perry, and was excited to see his latest Madea incarnation during this visit.

Look, I even scanned the tix for you to peruse them. Ain't I thoughtful and rather eccentric? In the nicest possible way, of course.

By the way, like in Europe, and other parts of the world, but almost never in the US (wonder why?), you HAVE to book or choose your seat.

You can even call up ahead, give your credit/debit card details, and they'll reserve it for you -- for a .75 cent fee --, which is a MUST during the weekends.

I like to sit near the balcony in row D, since it's fun to throw popcorn on the poor folk downstairs.







Quick, who has any "Up the Down Staircase" jokes? As if Erica Jong weren't a joke all on her lonesome.

(Oops. Bel Kaufman wrote that, not Miz Jong. But you've read one feminist in existential angst, you've read them all)







Okay, so this is what I do when I arrive at the Premier, itself.

I go to the "bistro" area, and peruse to see if there is a table available for me to dine. The hostess usually tells you how long, and frankly, usually it's too packed for my liking.







So, then, I go to the bar area, and order me a wonderful Boca burger, or chicken cacciatore dinner.

They give you a remote-control-looking thingie, which jingles like a mutha when your order is ready. This takes about 20-30 minutes, so obviously, one vegs until then.








And this is one of the Premier Lounges, where you do your vegging.

They have about 3 or 4 areas, all of them with comfy leather sofas and recliners, and the best part, this mammoth TV you see here, usually turned onto the Miami Heat.

The Q-Tips don't get half ticked off when I turn the channel to Fox News. I don't see why, since so many of them voted for Pat Buchanan in 2000.







In case you get peckish, you can also head to the Concessions stand, and get your freebie bag of popcorn.

But now you know why it was necessary to card you downstairs, since you can actually buy a bottle of Crystal or Moet et Chandon champers, to imbibe.

Only back home, in England or on the continent, have I had the chance to get soused during a play, or a film.

This is the first, and so far, only place I know of here in the US, that one may buy a Bud or Corona, and drink it whilst watching your picture.

I don't drink, but I make a POINT to, when I come to the Premier, just because it's so cool to get drunk whilst doing something you love. I feel like Christopher Hitchens.

My tipple of choice is Sam Adams. Best American non-microbrewed beer, by far.







Oh, did I mention that the Premier is brought to you by Lexus, as the popcorn bag proclaims? The toilets are brought to you by the Ford Pinto, because they're a piece of crap.







Okay, your remote-thingie is now jingling and lighting up, and you have to pick up your food, to take to your seat.

You can ask for help with your dishes, cutlery, popcorn and glasses of vino, but there is a protocol, apparently, just like at the Car Wash.

The black, aproned waiters can take your food to the red-vested ushers, and then the usher takes you and your food to your seat.

The aproned ones cannot walk in front of you, but the usher can. I have no clue why, but it impresses the heck out of me.







My mother laughed at this fake tapestry, although I liked it.

It gives the corridors a certain glamour, plus you can practise lobbing popcorn at the heads of the young shepherdesses.







I have noticed the ushers barely look at your tickets, so you can probably sneak around to another film, once yours is over.

Not that I EVER ever do that, of course.

I like the whole old-fashioned concept of the usher, however, since part of the magic of the old picturepalaces, was the usher or usherette leading you to your seat, with their torch (flashlight).

The only thing that is missing is the candy or cigarette girl, wearing sheer nylons, asking your boyfriend if his Mars bar is nice and stiff, the cow.







This is the inner sanctum called the Ladies powder room.

I expect all gentlemen reading this to cover their eyes. This ain't no Porky's or Fast Times at Ridgemont High.

(So far, our travellogue would not differ from many picturehouses in Europe, but American washrooms are usually bereft of those most ubiquitous of staffers -- the washroom attendant. Consequently, no tip, how ever meagre, is expected from you to them. The bad news is that there are valets downstairs all too eager to rob you of that hard-earned fifsky)







This is the perfunctory shot of the auditorium entryway -- it's no big shakes, even if that trompe l'oeil banister along the walls is nicely done (although my mother laughed at it, all the same. Tough crowd).







None of the shots of inside the actual theatre, came out, so instead I offer the last vista of the Premier interior.

It's actually my favourite statue, this Winged Victory in the throes of either ecstacy or agony, I'm not sure.

Either way, it encapsulates everything the Premier wants to offer its patrons -- a kind of to-the-manor-borness, which is used to the very best, and yet is always asking for more.

Remember, the rich are never satisfied with what they have, and that's why they are rich, and we're not.

Give most people a bag of greasy popcorn, some Twizzlers, and a tub of Coke, and they consider that a great night out at the movies.

Well, I may not be rich, but in America, no one asks you how big your bank account is.

If you have the 18 bucks, you're in. If not, save.







I noticed that the valet guys come in all shapes and colours, but there is a definite curiosity about each level of staffer at the Muvico Palace.

Box Office -- male, and white
Waiters -- female/male, and white
Ushers -- male, and African or Haitian American
Managers -- female, black and white
Valet -- male, black and white and "Hispanic"


Not sure I want to know why. I just want my frikkin' car.







Here we are, your last stop of your wonderful, elegant, and very expensive visit to the Premier.

What with your 18.00 or 18.75 ticket, your 30 dollar meal, your 5 dollar glass of booze, your assorted tips totalling about 5-10 bucks, you just spent 70 dollars per person, for the best night out at the movies in your life.

It's not cheap, but believe me, it's worth it.

Every time you can have a civilised, select, adult experience in this hectic, mass-marketed, youth-oriented world, it's worth blowing your 401K.

...and now you know where I'll be, this Friday, 19th May, 2006 at almost midnight.

At the Premier, watching the Da Vinci Code, sipping my glass of Sam Adams, and eating my meatloaf sandwich.

A votre santé!


RELATED TRAVELLOGUES


MUVICO PARADISE 24

MUVICO PARISIAN 20

9 Comments:

  • Whoa.

    So wait, do you eat your bar/bistro food during the screening?

    By Blogger JSU, at Fri May 19, 04:20:00 am GMT-4  

  • Whoa.

    And this from a native New Yorker, ladies and gentlemen -- one, moreover, used to every kind of luxury and exclusivity in his environments.

    It is indeed, a very special experience, JSU, and one I would love to share with you, one day, mebbe.

    So wait, do you eat your bar/bistro food during the screening?

    Ah trust your keen eye to pounce on that.

    Yes, everyone gets a choice:

    You can either eat the bistro or restaurant (there are two kinds, one more formal, which requires a tie to dine in, the other, nearer the bar, doesn't).

    -- Or --

    You can take your ordered food to your seat, and eat your chow during the screening.

    Everyone does the latter, of course, since it's something you can't do anywhere else.

    This goes double for the booze, which includes hard liquor like Scotch, not just Corona, and spritzers.

    (They have cute little covers for your cocktails, so they don't spill on your way to the darkened auditorium)

    Once you're in your seat, you won't necessarily disturb your neighbours with your munching, since the Premier seats are HUMUNGOUS.

    Although there is no separation between them, the armrest easily holds one or two plates of food, each.

    The cupholder on each side, is there for you to place your booze or Cokes.

    Trust me, even a big man of some heft would feel completely at ease in those things.

    Unlike the seating downstairs, the balcony/Premier seats are few.

    I believe it's about 70-100 seats upstairs, and there are only a few movies (the most popular, or the most "toney" ones), which get the Premier treatment.

    Not all movies have this option, so one always calls up ahead to see which films are being shown at the Premier level.

    Going to the Muvico Palace is a blast, and what's more, we're getting one in Kendall (a southward suburb of Miami) soon!!

    Grecian-Ancient theme, with a 56 ft statue of Athena in the middle, apparently.

    And this type of Muvico theatre come to New Jersey too!

    I can't wait for you to check it out. :)

    Cheers,
    Victoria

    By Blogger vbspurs, at Fri May 19, 05:08:00 am GMT-4  

  • Victoria,

    I love love love your travelogues. The only thing I can ask for is more.

    Pete

    By Blogger Pete, at Fri May 19, 07:32:00 am GMT-4  

  • Dang, that really is sweet!

    "Every time you can have a civilised, select, adult experience in this hectic, mass-marketed, youth-oriented world, it's worth blowing your 401K." I home in on the "civilised" and "adult" parts here. One of the last movies I saw at a theater was Planet of the Apes - no kidding, I've been to maybe five movies since then. And it may have been my Apes experience that has turned me off of going out to the movies. I'm not an old fogey (at least I don't think so, even though I'm pushing 40), but with all the teenyboppers running around, yelling, blabbing on cellphones, and the ever-present boomboom-thumpthump cars rolling by, driven by young males who are probably compensating for testiculus nonpresentus, going to the movies was, and I suspect still is, just a flat-out nasty experience. Pay more to hang out with adults? Oh heck yeah!

    Did the "Premiere" seating entitle you to not having to sit through a bunch of inane commercials before the previews?

    By Blogger Bob, at Fri May 19, 01:28:00 pm GMT-4  

  • Victoria,

    I love love love your travelogues.


    Oh honey, thank you so much.

    I really appreciate you leaving a comment, because I personally loved the way this travellogue came out too.

    Due to the dearth of replies I've noticed of late (school getting out, and what-not, no doubt), I decided I needed to do something with a little more pizzazz this time. :)

    The only thing I can ask for is more.

    Sure!

    I have another cinematic travellogue already done, although it will be a while 'til I post it, so as not to crowd the theme too much (and though this is hard to beat, that one is different enough and has its own goodies, so it's not that bad).

    And many other travellogues ready to go!

    Stay tuned, my dear Pete. :)

    Cheers,
    Victoria

    By Blogger vbspurs, at Fri May 19, 01:57:00 pm GMT-4  

  • Dang, that really is sweet!

    I kept thinking of all the moviehouses I've been to in my life, and I never travel to a city without visiting/watching a flick in at least one (the locals or hotel staff usually know the "best" to go to).

    But this Premier in Boca takes the cake.

    When you think of "First World", you think of the Muvico Palace.

    It just wouldn't exist to this extent, with this amount of professionalism, and amenities in say, even Paris -- the home of luxury.

    And South America? Keep dreamin'.

    I home in on the "civilised" and "adult" parts here.

    Me too. :)

    One of the last movies I saw at a theater was Planet of the Apes - no kidding, I've been to maybe five movies since then.

    Whoa! That was what...1974ish?

    And it may have been my Apes experience that has turned me off of going out to the movies.

    "You bastards, what have you done! You did it, you really did it!"

    Seeing the Statue of Liberty covered up to her eyeballs in sand is enough to scare anyone.

    I'm not an old fogey (at least I don't think so, even though I'm pushing 40),

    That's definitely not old.

    but with all the teenyboppers running around, yelling, blabbing on cellphones, and the ever-present boomboom-thumpthump cars rolling by, driven by young males who are probably compensating for testiculus nonpresentus, going to the movies was, and I suspect still is, just a flat-out nasty experience.

    Wow, you're really bitter, I mean!, particular. ;)

    Actually, I read your sentence above with complete agreement, but it does make me rather sad.

    One of the happiest filmgoing experiences I remember is watching Batman in 1988, as a kid, laughing, and talking throughout the flick with my friends -- and we were all seated in the aisles (!), because the one-movie moviehouse was packed to the rafters for that showing in Oxfordshire.

    If me-now were to meet me-then, I would probably go shhhhhh! be quiet, you teenybopper!

    One day, we wake up to the certain knowledge that, though we promised ourselves we'd never become a picky as an adult, that we have.

    It's part of growing up I suppose, and you can see where generational conflicts arise...

    Pay more to hang out with adults? Oh heck yeah!

    EXACTLY.

    Me, I'm not so aware of people around me to begin with -- I'm a bit odd that way, since my life is lived inside me (an only-child trait, I think).

    But I must admit, seeing adults all around, is worth the price of admission alone.

    Did the "Premiere" seating entitle you to not having to sit through a bunch of inane commercials before the previews?

    Oh! I never checked. I will tonite, and report back. :)

    But I have to tell you, when my mother and I went to watch Poseidon last week, she thought we had gone to the wrong auditorium.

    "Why?"

    "Because this movie is about a fashion magazine"

    (The Devil Wears Prada preview, which I found rather fun -- Meryl Streep in the Anna Wintour role!)

    The "preview" was not your usual 4 minute clip, with disjointed segments of the whole movie, which PRACTICALLY tell you the whole damn plot!

    It's a long, long dialogue clip of one scene (lasting about 5 minutes), and that's it.

    I LIKE THAT! It makes more sense, and I really wish other chains would follow suit.

    The Muvico rulez!

    Cheers,
    Victoria

    By Blogger vbspurs, at Fri May 19, 02:12:00 pm GMT-4  

  • Where does one ever start with you?
    Almost every paragraph needs a comment or a remark about its content. I need a notebook, way too much to remember.
    I loved the pictures, I wonder how many are of the surreptitious nature, if any? I even enjoyed the remark about the unfortunate confusion causing Pat Buchanan to score better than he should have. Well, they WERE confusing, at least to some Fla. Supreme Court Justices.
    There's not enough room to comment on this excellent tour without turning it into an essay, just thank you and if I'm ever in town, I'm asking you to the movies. To the GOOD seats too!
    You're hilarious yet warm, charming yet devilish. Good people.

    By Blogger Paul, at Fri May 19, 03:35:00 pm GMT-4  

  • One of the last movies I saw at a theater was Planet of the Apes - no kidding, I've been to maybe five movies since then.

    Whoa! That was what...1974ish?

    No, this was the 2001 version, with Marky Mark Wahlberg.


    Wow, you're really bitter, I mean!, particular. ;)

    I do the old-fashioned thing - I keep it all bottled up inside until it explodes in a fury of pent-up RAGE! KHAAAAN!


    Actually, I read your sentence above with complete agreement, but it does make me rather sad.

    One of the happiest filmgoing experiences I remember is watching Batman in 1988, as a kid, laughing, and talking throughout the flick with my friends -- and we were all seated in the aisles (!), because the one-movie moviehouse was packed to the rafters for that showing in Oxfordshire.

    If me-now were to meet me-then, I would probably go shhhhhh! be quiet, you teenybopper!

    I really don't so much mind the occasional chatter during the movie - I mean, I do mind a little, but I think I've come to expect it and thus can tune it out. And occasionally it has a nice twist: During The Sixth Sense there was a group of kids chattering away, giggling, a few rows back and to my left, when the first "ghost" darted across the screen. You could here the kids jump, and then they were quiet and actually watching the movie after that. I guess they were all like "What's that hype? This isn't scary!"

    What I was getting at was more the behavior outside the theater. Definitely not a genteel atmosphere, and not even really a good way to start/continue a date (even a date with one's wife!).



    One day, we wake up to the certain knowledge that, though we promised ourselves we'd never become a picky as an adult, that we have.

    It's part of growing up I suppose, and you can see where generational conflicts arise...

    So true!


    Did the "Premiere" seating entitle you to not having to sit through a bunch of inane commercials before the previews?

    Oh! I never checked. I will tonite, and report back. :)

    The commercials have also contributed to my cinematic anhedonia. "Previews of coming attractions" I can dig (I do the Siskel & Ebert thing - thumbs up or down), but not commercials for Coke, etc., etc. Especially when Coke products are the only thing the theater serves at the concession stand - that's built-in advertising, and I don't need to be bludgeoned with a music video-style advert at 200 decibels to tell me to "DRINK COKE!"

    Anyhoo, I loved your descriptions and the pics. There was a time, and maybe I'll get back to it, when I loved going to the movies. For me, no home theater will ever match the experience.

    By Blogger Bob, at Tue May 23, 03:32:00 pm GMT-4  

  • Victoria-

    Marvellous sendup of that remarkable establishment. I honestly cannot disagree with a word of it and wonder why Muvico hasn't lifted it from your site yet...

    Cheers,

    John

    By Anonymous John S., at Wed Jul 05, 08:02:00 pm GMT-4  

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