I went to the cinema on Thursday. Yay! I’ve said before how much I love films and why I stopped going to the cinema when I moved to London – mostly because smoking was still allowed and because eating and drinking was becoming more common, and I couldn’t stand it (also because, when you go to the theatre three nights a week, you don’t have much time left for other things).
I used to live very very close to Portobello Road and I did go to the Electric (the oldest cinema in London) a few times, back in the early ’80s, before it closed down, then reopened briefly as a theatre, then closed down again, then reopened again as an über- trendy cinema and café/restaurant, where the Notting Hill Set (i.e. people who moved to the area after 1995, after that film came out) like to be seen. At the time, the Electric was a big barn of a place, with a Wurlitzer that would come up before the performance, and a kind of indoor kiosk where you could buy a hamburger and chips to munch through the film. The smell of food and cigarette was rather disturbing, but less so than crunchy popcorn, and the Electric was convenient and it showed good stuff. You could sit through great long double bills for very little money. I remember getting an awful migraine after watching The Day of the Triffids followed by several hours of 1900, during my Donald Sutherland phase. It was eccentric and fun. Much more than the awful Odeons and Empires in Leicester Square. I was very sad when it closed down. And by the time it reopened I had already left the area.
Here in Shepherds Bush we were deprived of cinemas for a very long time, until three years ago, I think, a beautiful cinema opened in our local shopping precinct. I went the first week it opened and promised myself to go regularly, but, guess what!, I haven’t. I can count on the fingers of one hand the films I’ve been to see there. Don’t ask me why. I don’t know.
But on Thursday my partner and I saw Goodnight, And Good Luck, at 5pm – while people were still at work (ah, the life of a freelancer!). We had a 2-for-1 voucher (which helped a lot with the decision to get off our butts and actually go there) and we managed to get our favourite seats: the ones in the back row that face the aisle, i.e. with an unobstructed view of the screen. Hooray! Except that, apart from us, there were only four other people in the entire auditorium, which meant we could have sat anywhere.
Just before the start of the performance, a young couple turned up and stumbled over our feet to get past and sit at one end of the back row. Ok. But then they talked loudly all through the trailers. Fine. Surely they would keep quiet as soon as the big film started. Not a chance. They carried on talking until we shouted at them to please shut up. Luckily, they were silent from then on, but ten minutes from the end of the film they stumbled over our feet again and went out. Did the woman have a crush on George Clooney and was she disappointed that it wasn’t a romance? They left separately – did they have an argument halfway through? Or was it too difficult for them to keep quiet for another ten minutes?
I’m slapping them for spoiling the first fifteen minutes of that wonderful, stylish and thought-provoking film, and everyone else who thinks they are in their living room when they go to the cinema. Stay in and watch DVDs, please!