The cinema has decided to go the way of the handful of independents - the Phoenix in North London, The Electric in West London and the Rex in Berkhamstead - in creating a higher-end atmosphere front of house, with restored period fittings (such as the original kiosk Automaticket dispenser, right) sitting alongside comfy seating areas and a comprehensive bar. I'm a functional cinema-goer and rarely indulge this part of the experience. My impressions of the cinema are based on the auditorium: comfort, audio-visual quality and sightlines, for example. Screen two benefits from a small stage area in front of the screen, which is similar to the second screen my favourite independent, The Picturehouse Uckfield. Such a space not only gives the screen and so the film room, but also formalises the presentation in an unquantifiable manner. Claustrophobia is not conducive to a good screening experience.
The Last Projectionist was the second of two films I saw during the week at the cinema. At the first, Ted , I was very much aware of the spectres of the fleapit that the cinema was at periods in its development. That's fine for a smutty comedy such as this and my experience was none the worse for it. After all, the sagacious talking heads who bemoan the loss of the cinema experience of old are more interested in the quality of the film itself.
|The 'Giant Screen', Millenium Point|
I did take an opportunity to see a straightforward film (The Bourne Legacy) in the central Odeon which is also featured in The Last Projectionist. Like many long standing post-war cinemas, it caters to large numbers but compromises on the seating and sightlines, with no raking to the seating. Parents brought young children and chatted - it was clearly a low-pressure afternoon out of the house. My favourite cinema experience over this time in Birmingham has been at the Cineworld - a more modern, purpose-built cinema whose sickly anonymity front of house is more than catered for by the screening experience within. It helped that I saw The Imposter which is a wonderful documentary.