Right next door to one of Hollywood's oldest cinematic institutions is its newest and scrappiest. Opening a stone's throw from the Egyptian Theatre and just down the block from the Chinese may seem an odd strategy for a fledgling art-house theater, but Arena Cinema feels like it's here to stay. It takes chances on indie flicks most other venues in Los Angeles wouldn't risk booking, such as the micro-budget horror oddity Toad Road and under-seen Silent City. Curator Christian Meoli is the first to admit this doesn't always work in his favor, but adventurous programming is a must in film culture. Small, intimate and with a dedicated parking lot that costs just $5 after purchase of a ticket, the nearly 2-year-old Arena feels the way it looks — DIY, lo-fi and charmingly austere — in the best way possible. You get the sense just from sitting in the theater that this really is a unique, necessary environment for film in Los Angeles. —Michael Nordine
1625 N. Las Palmas Ave., Hlywd., 90028. (323) 306-0676, arenascreen.com.