by Stacey Kuhns
Laemmle Royal Theater - Cafe 50's - Emil's Swiss Bakery
On Saturday, February 13, 2016, my parents, my friend, and I headed to West Los Angeles. Our plan was to see two independent films at a small theater, find a cool place to have lunch, and possibly dessert.
We headed to the Laemmle Royal Theater located at 11523 Santa Monica Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA, 90025. The Laemmle Theaters were established in 1938. They are the premiere art house theater chain in Los Angeles. They are a family owned business spanning three generations.
There are seven locations: Claremont, Santa Monica, Beverly Hills, Pasadena, West L.A., Encino, and North Hollywood. I recommend leaving early if you are going to the Royal as the freeway is always a nightmare and parking is less than plentiful. Most is metered parking so bring lots of quarters.
The Royal is a small theater. There are three theaters inside. You enter from the street into a small "waiting room" type area. You turn to the right and there is a counter to purchase tickets.
You then walk up the stairs or ramp to the concession stand. The walls are lined with pictures of the Laemmle family and history. The concessions seem to have larger candy bags than the standard everyday theaters, including a box of dark Godiva chocolates.
The concession prices were considerably cheaper than the Regals, United Artists, Edwards, and all the big theaters. If you are a senior citizen, you can get a box full of popcorn and a drink for $5! They also do not check bags (just saying.)
The staff are very friendly and eager to help. The clientele seemed to be mostly older folks. Each theater is small, maybe six rows of seats and some extra handicapped areas.
There are no stairs as everything is one level, but slanted down so no one blocks your view when they sit in front of you. The theater was recently redone. The seats were the most comfortable movie seats I had ever sat in. Thickly padded and almost better than Cineopolis luxury seats. Only complaint we all had was the lack of leg room.
We saw an early afternoon showing of "Rams." This movie was a winner at Cannes and also won Best Narrative at the Hamptons International Film Festival. It is about two brothers who live in a valley in Iceland and tend to their sheep and rams. They have not spoken to each other in 40 years. They have a dog that takes messages back and forth between them. The story is what happens when a lethal disease infects one of the brother's sheep; how the brothers and the town handle the crisis.
The theater gave out little postcards that told about the movie (below picture).
I found the movie plot interesting but felt the movie was long and drawn out. My friend fell asleep. My parents loved the movie. So, it is just a matter of opinion, as all these things are.
After the first movie, we walked down the street to eat lunch at Cafe 50's, located at 11623 Santa Monica Blvd., West Los Angeles. They are open 7 a.m. to 12 a.m. daily. This was a fun place to go.
When you walk in, there is a soda counter on the right where you can sit and eat. Everything looks like you stepped back into the 50's. There is another room with additional booths. Each booth has a jukebox that takes quarters. We listened to some Fats Domino.
The menu is extensive and includes all that you would expect and a large variety of shakes. There are decorations and movie posters covering every wall and ceiling, which makes the time pass quickly as you are so absorbed in reading everything.
There is even a public phone booth. In the back is a set of lockers that have games piled on top of them.
I was amazed by some of the things I was reading:
The food was good. I had a turkey sandwich. The others in my group had burgers, a chocolate shake, corned beef sandwich, fries and onion rings. The fries and onion rings were awesome. Everyone loved their meal and we all enjoyed the ambiance of the place. We like fun!
There are old fashioned candy and cigarette machines around the area. They do not work but you can purchase candy, such as bubble gum cigarettes (who doesn't remember those?!)
(I apologize about the fuzziness in the following pictures. They were taken with a phone instead of my camera.)
There is also a public phone booth near the front counter. I know some kids who would not know what that is. All in all a worthwhile stop if you are in West L.A.
After lunch, we had some time to kill before the second movie at Laemmle. We decided to stop into a bakery I saw on the way to Cafe 50's. Emil's Swiss Bakery is located at 11551 Santa Monica Blvd #3 in West L.A. They are closed Mondays. Tues through Saturday, they are opened 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Sunday 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. (I did not take an outside photo as it was a strip mall looking place with no distinguishing features outside.
There is plenty of places to sit and enjoy coffee, tea, Italian flavored sodas, or other beverages. The pastries looked gorgeous.
Emil's does catering, bakes fresh breads daily, serves lunch, dinner, and other assorted items. They also have a few shelves of items such as jams, beets, pickles, and coffees for sale. We decided to try the large brownie, chocolate chip scone and Florentine cookies. My parents each had a cup of decaf coffee. They said it was the best decaf they had ever had anywhere. Unfortunately, I cannot remember the name of the coffee and it is not listed on their website. They did have it for sale in a greenish can, but it was over $11 for 8 ounces!
The cookies were delish. The brownie was so dry you had to chisel it with your fork and crumbs were flying everywhere. I thought it tasted like sawdust and could not get past the dry consistency. The scone was the same. Huge disappointment for sure. I would not recommend this place to anyone.
So, we returned to the Laemmle for our final movie of the day, "Son of Saul." This is a 2015 Hungarian film about two days in the life of Saul Auslander, a Hungarian member of the Sonderkommando (work camp units made up of German Nazi death camp prisoners).
This film won Grand Prix at the Cannes Film Festival and nominated for Best Foreign Language Film at the 88th Academy Awards. It also won the Golden Globe for Best Foreign Language Film.
The story is told through the eyes of Saul. One of his jobs in Auschwitz is to clear the gas chamber of bodies and to sort through the clothing of the prisoners. He also spends some time shoveling the ashes of the prisoners burned in the crematorium ovens. There is not a lot of visible violence or scenes. It is all perceived through knowledge of what is taking place as the background is blurred quite often in the movie.
I found the movie to be emotional for me for personal reasons, but I thought it was very good and suspenseful. My friend also liked it. My parents did not like it at all and felt the story was implausible and the actors looked too "Hollywood" so again, a matter of opinion.
For anyone who likes movies that are not mainstream and who wants to support independent movies, I urge you to find a local art theater and see some of these jewels.