I've seen hundreds of movies at the Clairidge — and was sorry to see it and every other theater shuttered when COVID-19 hit. On Sunday, Oct. 24, my wife Bibi Pasternack and I finally returned to the Clairidge, now under the aegis of Montclair Film. I've been a member since its founding and say: Bravo Montclair Film!

I'm giving the new Clairidge my highest rating: four stars. The bright, reimagined outer lobby, with its LED lighting, comfy seating lounge and giant video screen; the coolly updated interior lobby, with the venerable popcorn machine one of the few survivors; and the refreshed screening rooms all point to the way we'll all be seeing movies from now on. Seeing the excellent "Red Rocket" with a nearly sold-out crowd, followed by a fascinating Q&A with the filmmakers ... yeah, man, that's why we love to go to the movies.

But (you know there's always a but): The refurbishment overlooked one thing that was sorely needed: automatic door openers for those surprisingly heavy outside doors, on both Church Street and Bloomfield Avenue. My wife, Bibi, Bibi uses a wheelchair. For her, and anyone with mobility issues, those doors present an unyielding barrier that says "keep out." I applaud the Clairidge for its gently sloped ramps and the fact that every theater has workable seating for the disabled. But first you have to get in.

I usually get her through those doors all by myself, but it looks like bad Twyla Tharp. On occasion, I have depended on the kindness of strangers who see us struggling (apologies to Tennessee Williams). But if they were automatic doors, I wouldn't have to.

Ted Dupont
Montclair


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