Cinema Paradiso?

It is my husband’s birthday today, so for a birthday treat, last night we went out for a meal followed by a trip to the cinema to see The Revenent.  Good grief it was bleak. ‘Visceral’ was the word that we agreed upon as the best description, though for me, despite the quite magnificent scenery and wonderful cinematography, ‘cold, violent, misery’, were the three words that came to mind.

However, it led me to muse on how my cinema experiences have changed over the years.

The town I lived in when I was a gel, boasted three cinemas (with just one screen each).  The biggest and best was the very grand Granada Tooting, which had a sweeping carpeted Hollywood style staircase, and when you had a seat in the ‘circle’ upstairs, you got the pleasure of walking along a corridor lined on both sides with practically full length mirrors in gilded fancy frames.  Thus you were able to see hundreds of reflections of yourself treading the red (of course) carpet.  It’s still there, but sadly, now used as a bingo hall.  I found a bit of video about it which you might like to see:

Granada tooting wurlitzer

The Granada’s famous Wurlitzer organ

The Granada was famous for it’s organ (mysteriously not mentioned in that video clip!), which rose majestically from the depths of the building during the intermissions. Of course, it was originally used for accompanying silent movies, but I’m not quite old enough to have witnessed that.  Anyway, I do remember that splendid time between the ‘B’ movie, pathe news, and the main feature, when the organ played and we ran down to join the queues to buy tubs of ice cream and watered down orange juice from ladies in uniform standing at the end of the aisles with trays. (If you’re interested, you can read a bit more about the Granada’s history by clicking here)

The ‘B’ movie and pathe news faded out over the course of time, replaced initially by cheaply made adverts for local restaurants and hairdressers, with the wooden looking owners valiantly reading from a script behind the cameras inviting you to visit.  They were a hoot.

I used to go to the cinema almost every week in those days.  Partially because my friend Linda’s mum worked as the cashier and occasionally allowed us in for free.  I have no idea if she was breaking the rules or if it was one of her official perks.  Actually, I didn’t care, as long as I got a free pass to watch the magic of the big screen.

We’d watch anything from musicals to mickey mouse, with westerns thrown in.

We rarely go these days, partly because of the exorbitant cost, and partly because it’s a forty minute drive to the nearest cinema.  Still, if there’s a film we want to see, or for special occasions, we make the effort.

Of course, now, there is just the one film preceded by about three quarters of an hour of adverts that you already see on TV and trailers of films that you have no interest in.  So we buy half a ton of popcorn and some m & m’s along with a gallon of coca cola to see us through that bleak time.  Because we don’t go often we treat ourselves to the VIP seats, which are virtually the same as the other seats but with a bit more width and legroom, and crucially, a place in the armrest to park your popcorn.

The whole experience is better I guess.  The screen bigger, the sound amazing, the seats being tiered so you always get a perfect uninterrupted view.  Well, most people always get an uninterrupted view.  Me, well, I haven’t mentioned it before, but I come with my own personal phenomenon.

You see, when I go to a cinema, or theatre, or anywhere where I am required to sit in rows with other people, I get a great seat with a clear view of the goings-on, right up until the minute before whatever it is starts, then a hulking great brute of a man (or woman, don’t want to be sexist here) comes and sits in the seat in front of me so that, if I’m lucky, I have to peer through their parting for the whole event, but more often than not, I have to sit with my head to one side to try and see anything but the back of their head.

For instance, last night we had great seats.  As the lights went down there was actually no-one sitting directly in front of me, and I was thinking how pleasant it was that the seats had high enough backs so that no distracting heads came above the tops, when a bloke, who was clearly nearly seven foot tall shimmied along the row in front and plonked himself down yep, in the seat in front of me. I kid you not, those fantastic sweeping shots of the wilderness were interrupted by this blokes massive bonce, and I left with a crick in my neck from craning to the side to be able to read the subtitles.  Boooo big tall man.  Big tall men ought to have to sit in the back row in my opinion.

Anyhoo, we still enjoyed (endured?) the film, but I was glad to get home and get tucked up in my cosy hor… sorry, bed, to get over the chill of it all. If you’ve seen it, you’ll know what I mean. 😉


This one’s for my mum

Hi Mum!

Surprise!! I know you loyally read my blog even though sometimes you don’t understand it, and quite definitely ‘don’t like poetry’.  So when I came across this video this morning and knew that you’d love it, I thought I’d post it here just for you (and anyone else who might like it too of course).  The music might not be entirely to your taste, but it’s worth watching for the dancing and the incredible way all the clips are put together in perfect timing.

When I watched it, it took me back to Sunday afternoons watching Fred and Ginger, Gene Kelly, or Busby Berkeley movies on the sofa with you and nan. You always did love dancing.  I can remember, when I was very small, being told off for running about between peoples legs when you and dad took me along to one of your ballroom dancing classes, and as I got older, watching you being swept around the floor in a dazzling waltz on our annual visits to the holiday camp.

For a short while you sent me to dance classes.  I don’t remember why I couldn’t do ballet, I think I wasn’t the right shape or something, but I did a bit of tap and modern, well, until my sister refused to take me anymore because she was embarrased by my (alleged) naughtiness.

So, I’ve never been up to scratch with the dancy dancy. That’s not to say I don’t do it, blimey, I even admit to dancing about on my own on my ‘about’ page here!  But it’s probably just as well that no one is watching.

You and I both enjoy watching Strictly Come Dancing at this time of year, and I’d love to be on it. I bet in your day you could’ve beaten the pants off of any of them! Wouldn’t it be great to be all dressed up in those glittery frocks and being swished around the floor by a proper professional? Of course, this programme is the new and improved incarnation of ‘Come Dancing’ that we used to watch together years ago too.

Anyhoo, enough of the reminiscing, have a look at the video and enjoy. I hope it cheers you up as much as it did me this morning – but don’t try any of the moves, well, not unless you’re hanging on to your ‘trolley’ 😉

lots of love

k xx

Music on Monday

Well, I guess it’s about time I shared my absolutely number one favourite song ever. By happy co-incidence it is also from the soundtrack of my absolutely favourite film, Merry Christmas Mr Lawrence (I may be the only person in the world who lists this as their favourite film, I’ve not come across anyone else yet!) , which moves me to tears every single time I watch it (apart from the bit with David Bowies brother which is a bit of a weak point methinks).

Anyhoo, my favourite song ‘Forbidden Colours’ by Sylvian and Sakamoto never fails to send my stomach into a knot however many times I listen to it… and believe me that is many, many times. I hope you love it too.