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Movies, dining and things to do / Spokane and North Idaho

Magic Lantern: Spokane’s cinematic treasure

Why do I love the Magic Lantern? Ah, let me count the ways.

Actually, forget the Shakespearean posturing. The main reason is because over its founding, in the early '70s, the Lantern has been the one theater in Spokane that reliably shows the movies that other theaters won't.

At one of its earlier locations, when it sat on Wall Street and screenings would be disrupted by passing trains, the theater would show foreign-language films to smallish audiences that didn't mind reading subtitles. Imagine that.

And it's still going, its two screens set back in the Saranac Building at 25 W. Main showing the widest varieties of films imaginable. Just tonight you can see the music-concert documentary (and a capturing of history) "Amazing Grace," the documentary profile "Ask Dr. Ruth" (see embed below) and the dramatic narrative feature "The Mustang."

And opening tomorrow? Both the issues-themed documentary "Hail Satan?" and the narrative profile "Tolkien."

As for "Hail Satan?" notice the punctuation. That's a question mark there, which says a lot. And to intrigue you more, here are a few critical comments:

Joe Morgenstern, Wall Street Journal: "A fascinating documentary about ragtag political activists making fundamentally serious mockery at a high level of media savvy."

Amy Nicholson, Variety: "(Director Penny) Lane sets out to subvert American history with intelligence and wit. Here, she asks us to question why certain religions are deemed 'normal,' even though, notes one Temple member, Catholic mass is all about the symbolic drinking of blood."

Barbara VanDenburgh, Arizona Republic: "As a study in the art of media manipulation and civic trolling, 'Hail Satan?' is informative and entertaining."

And if that weren't enough, some people say the Lantern's popcorn is the best in town. Let the arguments begin.