In a world of multiplexes and 3D surround-sound behemoths, it’s easy to forget that part of the allure of taking a trip to the cinema is glamour and cool. You could look up at the – genuinely – silver screen and lose yourself in an ecstasy of nouvelle vague Breton tops and pixie cuts or be mesmerised by Marlene Dietrich’s swagger count. There was a reason that these places were called ‘picture palaces’, though, and not just for the achingly aspirational movies they showed. You could go and hang out in some of the most stylish deco-tastic surroundings, inhale movie magic and then chat about it over a cocktail.
Luckily for London film-lovers, a new ‘old’ picture palace has opened in town and it fulfils all our yearnings for a place to enjoy the whole cinematic experience once again.
The Garden Cinema in the heart of Covent Garden – opens on March 25 and currently has two screens – one with 70 seats and the other 40, with a third planned to open imminently. The aim is to create a space to share and discuss film in a plush, inviting setting in the heart of the West End. All its screenings are carefully curated with an ethos of only showing films that the cinema team thinks are actually good and enjoy themselves, but it’s safe to say that the choices are centred on independent cinema, arthouse releases and movie classics. It’s launching with a Marlon Brando season alongside the new release from ‘Louder than Bombs’ creator, Norwegian filmmaker Joachim Trier’s ‘The Worst Person in the World’ and a mini film festival, CinemaItaliaUK.
Viewing pleasure is enhanced by the promise of no adverts before each feature, but instead shorts from emerging talents prior to new releases. In keeping with its non-corporate vibe, prices for tickets and drinks are accessible – if not quite from the 1930s, and the snacks are healthy, plastic and noise-free. There’s also lifetime membership for just £20 which offers a nifty array of discounts and benefits.
Both Mike Leigh and Ken Loach have voiced their support for this venue, and if that doesn’t convince you, then a drink in the bar with its swish velvet banquettes and art-deco mirrors will definitely give you an Instagram-worthy frisson of movie connoisseurship and glamour.
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