In the absence of a full-fledged art cinema, the place to see a movie may as well be chosen for its parking as much as its programming. Narrow ramps, cavernous floors, electronic parking-payment contraptions? No thanks. When you have only five minutes to put butt to seat before the credits roll, pull into the wide-open lots at Sunrise Intracoastal (for free). Hustle to the ticket booth and enter -- lines are rare, except at bargain matinees showing movies with geriatric appeal. "No stairs to climb. Listening devices available," the North Miami Beach theater advertises, clearly spotlighting a more aged demographic than those ramp-cavern-contraption places. Though the programming won't be proclaimed "adventurous" by any sane person, you are likely to find two or three of the Intracoastal's eight large auditoriums screening those artsy foreign and indie films you read about so wistfully in the New York Times.

Since the lights first flickered on less than a year ago, the Cinematheque has established itself as the screen to be seen. In the heart of South Beach, the movie house's art-gallery setting provides a perfect scene for cineastes eager to enjoy true classics (Hiroshima, Mon Amour), rare oddities (Todd Haynes's Superstar: The Karen Carpenter Story), or specific programs tied to local festivals such as Art Basel and the Winter Music Conference. The Cinematheque also provides an outlet for locally produced independent films, making it something much more important than simply an alternative to multiplex hell.

Hardcore, emo, pop-punk ... whatever you call it, tuneful rock and roll (a fair definition of "pop") has its share of followers, and performers, in South Florida. Few of the performers are as accomplished as the players in Sunday Driver. Since forming in 1999, the Sunny Isles Beach quartet has released an EP (Third Place Prize) and, this past February, its debut full-length, A Letter to Bryson City, to growing national acclaim. What's the secret? Lots of cross-country tours promoting a sound that balances Alex Martinez's melodic vocals with his and Charlie Suarez's blistering twin-guitar attack. If popularity is the end zone, these cats are in the red zone and it's first down.

Hardcore, emo, pop-punk ... whatever you call it, tuneful rock and roll (a fair definition of "pop") has its share of followers, and performers, in South Florida. Few of the performers are as accomplished as the players in Sunday Driver. Since forming in 1999, the Sunny Isles Beach quartet has released an EP (Third Place Prize) and, this past February, its debut full-length, A Letter to Bryson City, to growing national acclaim. What's the secret? Lots of cross-country tours promoting a sound that balances Alex Martinez's melodic vocals with his and Charlie Suarez's blistering twin-guitar attack. If popularity is the end zone, these cats are in the red zone and it's first down.

Nobody truly escapes reality via public transportation, not even on a long day's journey from Government Center to Aventura via Biscayne Boulevard (and on to Miami Beach if you want). Go surreal: Put the L'Avventura in your field trip to Aventura and turn this ride into a mind film. Friends afeared you've vanished to the point no one will ever find you, a cast of thousands, sights to behold or be filmed. Like Antonioni's dense tableaux, you may judge your encounter with mass transit as aggressively alienating and maddening in its slow pace, but by using your Truffaut-informed imagination (after steering clear of an aisle seat) and pretending you're chilling at Cinecitta instead, the vehicle transforms in that day-for-night way. As the Bluebird diesel rumbles north, downtown's hectic sets fall behind and the windows frame unbroken vistas of on-location neighborhoods -- housing, strip malls, construction sites, restaurants. Interestingly costumed extras appear, some more than once, making ominous eye contact or uninterpretable gestures. When you disembark at the mall, you will be astounded to discover that neither David Hemmings nor Monica Vitti is waiting to accompany you to the Gap. Ask the old woman in the heavy coat and sweater or the teenager appropriating black culture with his wardrobe but holding tight that platinum Visa just in case. Maybe Fellini should be your mental guide. At least until you enter the mall and walk head on into its 24-screen multiplex. A comedy turned tragic. So new wave.

There's an attitude that artistically successful local acts share no matter the musical style. Maybe it's the geographic isolation or just the damn heat, but a detachment from other "happening" scenes affords Miamians musical acts that play by their own rules. With 2 Live Crew this parochialism found its zenith. The sound itself began with the DJ (David Hobbs) and his 808 drum machine (and vast record collection) popping beats that were (and still are, for that matter) infectiously danceable. Mark "Brother Marquis" Ross added some of the best raps ever put down, and the other members (and dancers and audiences) added so much crazy fun that the Crew ended up in federal court more than once and, eventually, the U.S. Supreme Court. It fought for freedom of speech, against prior restraint, and, in its landmark case, for the right to parody other songs. (Weird Al and other parodists couldn't perform if not for the Crew's fight for the right to mock and mimic copyrighted music.) The Crew didn't invent lewdness, ass shaking, the dozens, or call and response. It simply took all of them to new heights.

There's an attitude that artistically successful local acts share no matter the musical style. Maybe it's the geographic isolation or just the damn heat, but a detachment from other "happening" scenes affords Miamians musical acts that play by their own rules. With 2 Live Crew this parochialism found its zenith. The sound itself began with the DJ (David Hobbs) and his 808 drum machine (and vast record collection) popping beats that were (and still are, for that matter) infectiously danceable. Mark "Brother Marquis" Ross added some of the best raps ever put down, and the other members (and dancers and audiences) added so much crazy fun that the Crew ended up in federal court more than once and, eventually, the U.S. Supreme Court. It fought for freedom of speech, against prior restraint, and, in its landmark case, for the right to parody other songs. (Weird Al and other parodists couldn't perform if not for the Crew's fight for the right to mock and mimic copyrighted music.) The Crew didn't invent lewdness, ass shaking, the dozens, or call and response. It simply took all of them to new heights.

British people know their Latin rock. That's why the BBC named the nine-member Locos Por Juana "The Best Latin Rock Band from the U.S." Right on the dinero. We should feel privileged that, unlike our transatlantic friends, we have many opportunities to check these guys out on their home turf. They just rocked Calle Ocho and are now in the process of putting together their second album, along with a documentary about the Latin rock scene in Miami. They offer an eclectic mix of Latin rhythms with ska, rap, and reggae undertones. Not only is their album fun, but their shrewd studio skills have earned them a Latin Grammy for producing an album by Jorge Moreno. As for wooing America's ally across the pond, consider it a tiny bit of payback for all the incredible music the U.K. has sent to this hemisphere.

British people know their Latin rock. That's why the BBC named the nine-member Locos Por Juana "The Best Latin Rock Band from the U.S." Right on the dinero. We should feel privileged that, unlike our transatlantic friends, we have many opportunities to check these guys out on their home turf. They just rocked Calle Ocho and are now in the process of putting together their second album, along with a documentary about the Latin rock scene in Miami. They offer an eclectic mix of Latin rhythms with ska, rap, and reggae undertones. Not only is their album fun, but their shrewd studio skills have earned them a Latin Grammy for producing an album by Jorge Moreno. As for wooing America's ally across the pond, consider it a tiny bit of payback for all the incredible music the U.K. has sent to this hemisphere.

When gross-out auteurs the Farrelly brothers were looking to jump-start their decade-old project, the Siamese twins comedy Stuck on You, where did they go? To Miami, of course, a prime shooting location for such "Hollywood" schlock as Bad Boys II and 2 Fast 2 Furious. Granted, this would-be plea for greater understanding of physically conjoined persons starred slumming A-listers Matt Damon and Greg Kinnear, and audiences gave it respectful reviews when it opened in December of 2003. But really, when is Hollywood gonna start taking us seriously enough to shoot some Academy Award-potential films down here? When Accounting starts asking questions about why movies that have nothing to do with Miami are being shot in Miami? "Because it has great weather, even better dope, and abundant nightlife" is not an acceptable answer unless you're, say, Oliver Stone. Or, apparently, those crazy Farrelly boys.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®