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Back-Alley Adulation 

The most congenial spirits among film fans gather at Atomic Cinema

You walk across the street to the sidewalk, toward the cyclone fence propped open with an old cinder block. You can hear the sound of screaming from over the fenceline, then laughter in a quiet chorus. The light that's been keeping the sidewalk visible darkens suddenly, a quick cut to a new scene in shadow, and you realize that you've been walking under the glare of a Samurai zombie, that this is Atomic Cinema, that this is where you want to sit and sip a drink, that this is where the most congenial spirits among true film fans relax.

That's right -- congenial. Got there late? No problem -- everyone is glad to offer you a seat and fill you in on what's happened in the most succinct terms, all ironic and sub-referential asides included. And greeting you at the gate is Tom Carr, the owner of Atomic Neon and Glassworks and the creator of Atomic Cinema.

Tom has been screening movies on the back wall of the Atomic Neon building for a little over a year, by his estimate, for crowds ranging from five to about a hundred. Why? "Oh, man, why not?" he says, and smiles.

The lineup is pretty diverse -- after the samurai decapitated the final demon, Tom switched to a short student film about bocce ball, then to a contemporary French romance. "I like movies that are unlike anything I've seen before," he says, "something out of the ordinary." He doesn't schedule movies too far in advance -- he usually makes a choice on Friday, previews on Saturday, and screens on Sunday -- but he'll try to honor requests.

The movies are outside through the summer, but don't let inclement weather stop you from coming -- there's a screening room upstairs, ready for rain and winter. And yes, you can smoke. And yes, you can drink. In fact, Tom provides beverages.

So go, already, and watch movies in open space with people who get it. It's good for you.

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