Comments from DavidSimpson

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DavidSimpson
DavidSimpson commented about Screen 22 on Apr 16, 2017 at 11:55 am

In April 2017 owner Amy Gathercote announced her “heart-breaking” decision to close Screen 22. She had re-opened the cinema in 2011 but broke her leg in October 2016, while indulging in another of her passions, Roller Derby. Friends and family kept the cinema going, but her period of convalescence led to some reflection, and she decided not to renew the lease. She now invites another film buff to take on the challenge!

DavidSimpson
DavidSimpson commented about Institute of Light on Apr 15, 2017 at 8:28 am

I made my customary visit on Good Friday, 14th April 2017, to see the 9pm screening of “Personal Shopper”, starring Kristen Stewart. When I arrived, the early evening film, “The Salesman”, starring Taraneh Alidoosti and Shahab Hosseini, was on, so the shutter had been brought down behind the front doors (see the Overview above) and a helpful map shows how patrons should enter the cinema via the rear entrance.

That leads to a covered courtyard with tables and chairs, which in turn leads to the café/restaurant directly behind the auditorium.

In the auditorium, seating is a mixture of “airline” seats, other free-standing seats and two-seater sofas. All are very comfortable and there is a very generous rake, affording excellent sightlines. Adding to the ambiance were the frequent trains passing by overhead (the cinema is in a converted railway arch!) – as “Personal Shopper” is a ghost story it was sometimes unclear whether the rumbling came from the sound system or the railway. But at least the railway wasn’t as intrusive as it was at the long demolished, but fondly remembered, Bijou, Sloughborough, as featured in “The Smallest Show on Earth”!

DavidSimpson
DavidSimpson commented about Cube Microplex on Apr 11, 2017 at 8:56 pm

Having visited with the Cinema Theatre Association in July 1999, I finally got to see a film in March 2017! Fortunately, it was well worth the wait, as I saw a stunning print of Powell & Pressburger’s “Black Narcissus”, starring Deborah Kerr and David Farrar.

I was made very welcome by the enthusiastic volunteer staff, who clearly operate the Cube as a real labour of love. The place has a wonderfully ‘independent’ feel about it, and I was delighted to sit with a near full house, a real rarity these days and a testament to the lure of a wonderful film in this lovely atmosphere. I wish all at the Cube all the very best. I only hope it’s not another 18 years before I return!

DavidSimpson
DavidSimpson commented about Westway Cinema on Apr 10, 2017 at 4:19 pm

According to newspaper reports, the 304-seat Westway closed in March 2017 after the business went into liquidation. It had been run by local woman Martina O’Connor and her partner Mark Lifely for the previous five years, after they took over from her parents Dennis and Dolores, who had run it for the more than 20 years.

Happily, the Westway was re-opened on Wednesday 22nd February 2017 by Pat and Beryl Scott, who run the Ritz at Burnham on Sea. That day, and the Thursday, were used for staff training/bedding in, and the official re-opening took place on Friday 24th February. The main change has been its transformation into a three screen cinema. There is also a licenced bar.

DavidSimpson
DavidSimpson commented about Forum Cinema on Apr 10, 2017 at 3:26 pm

The Forum stood at the junction of Dorvil Road and The Square. In March 2017 the site was occupied by the car park for a Eurospar supermarket.

DavidSimpson
DavidSimpson commented about Empire Picture Palace on Apr 10, 2017 at 3:19 pm

When I visited in March 2017, a local resident told me the former cinema had been used as a squash club until its recent closure.

DavidSimpson
DavidSimpson commented about Gaumont Plaza Cinema on Apr 10, 2017 at 2:45 pm

On 27th March 2017, when I visited the Gaumont Plaza (to see “Beauty and the Beast”, starring Emma Watson) I was very fortunate to meet operator Ashley Whyatt.

This is, of course, very much a work-in-progress. To get the film shows started, the former stalls have been brought back to life through the construction of a temporary projection box halfway down the centre aisle and the installation of a combination of multiplex seats and two and three-seat settees. 104 patrons can be accommodated, and the extremely comfortable seating has been arranged to provide plenty of leg-room. The scale of the auditorium allows for a huge screen, and I (together with a promisingly large number of patrons) thoroughly enjoyed the experience.

In due course, the projection box will be moved further back, to allow for seating for about 140 patrons, in more conventional rows.

At that time, the temporary box office/concession stand, at the back of the stalls, will be moved into the internal foyer (the original box office, in the outer foyer, is not currently being used).

Meanwhile, the circle has been blocked off, and two 50-seat cinemas are being constructed side by side, Ashley realising, quite rightly, that one single screen is simply not sufficient.

It was lovely to see this cinema coming back to life, and I wished Ashley and his team all the very best.

DavidSimpson
DavidSimpson commented about Odeon Northwich on Apr 10, 2017 at 9:39 am

This is a very striking building, with the upper-level foyer commanding wonderful views over the River Weaver. I was made very welcome when I visited, in March 2017, to see “Kong: Skull Island”, starring Samuel L. Jackson and John Goodman.

DavidSimpson
DavidSimpson commented about Everyman Chelmsford on Apr 9, 2017 at 10:11 am

The Everyman is housed in the upper floors of a new, eye-catching building in a wonderful location by the river. I visited on 21st February 2017 to see “Manchester by the Sea”, starring Casey Affleck and Michelle Williams, and was made very welcome by the staff. Just a small correction to my Overview comments: the wonderfully named ‘Spielburger’ is one of the menu options, not the name of the bar/restaurant!

DavidSimpson
DavidSimpson commented about Odeon Hornchurch on Apr 8, 2017 at 4:18 pm

By late March 2017 demolition was well underway. I’ve posted four photographs, taken on 27th March by David Weedon.

DavidSimpson
DavidSimpson commented about Curzon Aldgate on Feb 19, 2017 at 9:59 am

This is a really lovely cinema, well up to Curzon’s customary standards. An extremely imaginative touch is the sixties ‘retro’ furnishings and decoration in the extensive, very comfortable foyer/lounge.

DavidSimpson
DavidSimpson commented about Cineworld Cinema - Harlow Queensgate on Feb 19, 2017 at 9:44 am

When I paid my customary visit to the new Cineworld in the Harvey Centre, on 31st January 2017, I took advantage of the occasion to also call in at this Cineworld, which I last visited in January 2000, while it was the Virgin. I saw “xXx: Return of Xander Cage”, starring Vin Diesel, in Screen 5. I was told that seating capacities are now: Screen 1:201, 2:115, 3:103, 4:103, 5:113 and 6:116. This total of 751 is less than half of the 1,553 stated under its previous branding. Judging by Screen 5, this appears to be more to do with newer, wider seats than any significant re-stepping of the seats. But the cinema is in fine shape; between them, the two six-screen Cineworlds finally provide the town with the multiplex capacity it deserves.

DavidSimpson
DavidSimpson commented about Cineworld Cinema - Harlow Harvey Centre on Feb 19, 2017 at 8:51 am

Seating capacities are: Screen 1:266, 2:127, 3:98, 4:209, 5:123 and 6:115. A total of 938 seats.

DavidSimpson
DavidSimpson commented about Everyman Barnet on Feb 19, 2017 at 8:40 am

By January 2017, when I visited to see “Live by Night”, starring Ben Affleck and Elle Fanning, Everyman had carried out their usual sumptuous refurbishment.

DavidSimpson
DavidSimpson commented about Shubert Performing Arts Center on Jan 2, 2017 at 9:49 am

This is a screen grab from “All About Eve” (1950) with the marquee advertising a [fictitious] play within the film.

DavidSimpson
DavidSimpson commented about Electric Theatre on Dec 20, 2016 at 11:41 am

Yes, Philip, that could well have been the case. I was able to see inside the ground floor: it’s a large space with a relatively high ceiling, ideal for use as a cinema in 1908.

DavidSimpson
DavidSimpson commented about Electric Theatre on Dec 19, 2016 at 11:34 am

By late 2016 the building was vacant – indeed, internally it had been stripped back to decaying bare brick. It is due to be converted into Peckham Market, a venue for work, events, food and music, with offices on the first and second floors and an events venue on the ground floor.

In the meantime, an ad-hoc market occupies the ground floor, while the enterprising folks behind the Rooftop Film Club, based in the adjoining Bussey Building, have converted the second floor into the Winter Film Club.

Repertory screenings of seasonal-themed films are taking place from 1st to 23rd December. I visited on Sunday 18th December to see my favourite big-screen action thriller, “Die Hard”, starring Bruce Willis and Alan Rickman. Despite the designation as a Film Club, membership is not required.

160 Rooftop Film Club deck chairs have been installed. There is a balcony (that, judging by the exterior window line, might once have been a separate, third upper floor) which is home to the bar/concession counter and loose tables and chairs. The digital projector is in the centre of the balcony front, while the soundtrack is relayed (very effectively) through individual headphones. The screen is 16ft by 9ft. With minimal available facilities some imaginative lighting gives a nice ‘cinematic’ atmosphere, while a large number of candles light the entrance stairs – and also the stairs up to the rather dark toilets! Heating is provided by an industrial blower (which is switched off during the film!) and blankets are also available: it all made for a wonderful experience.

However, whether the film was screened in the space last used in 1915 by the Electric Theatre is not so clear-cut, as there are three floors to choose from. The second floor balcony is not raked, and gives all the appearance of a much more recent addition. There is no indication where the projection box might have been. Nevertheless, the second floor, with its very high ceiling, would have been an ideal location. However, even if the Electric occupied the ground floor, this is still a very imaginative use of a building that did once house a cinema, and I congratulate the organisers on their endeavours.

DavidSimpson
DavidSimpson commented about Brady Cinema Theatre on Dec 13, 2016 at 11:28 am

In March 1977 a friend and I visited Paris to attend the 6th International Fantasy Festival at the Grand Rex. As lifelong lovers of horror films we were delighted to discover the horror-themed Le Brady. Although I took a photograph of the cinema we didn’t see any films there. Instead, we saw two double bills at Le Colorado, a similarly horror-themed cinema. (So Le Brady wasn’t quite as unique as indicated above.)

DavidSimpson
DavidSimpson commented about Colorado on Dec 13, 2016 at 11:23 am

In March 1977 a friend and I visited Paris to attend the 6th International Fantasy Festival at the Grand Rex. As lifelong lovers of horror films we were delighted to discover the horror-themed Le Colorado, at which we saw two double bills that were presumably typical of its fare: “Le Creature Invisible” (“The Sorcerers” [UK/1967], starring Boris Karloff, complete with English title and BBFC ‘X’ certificate!) + “Dracula, Prisonnier de Frankenstein” [1971] and “Magdalena, l'Exorcisee” ([1974] UK: “Magdalena: Possessed by the Devil”) + “Le Monstre du Chateau” ([1971] UK: “Killers of the Castle of Blood”). I don’t recall any ‘horror’ decoration inside the cinema. I just remember a relatively small single floor auditorium (and the requirement to tip the elderly usherette as she showed my friend and me to our seats, something we weren’t prepared for!). So the cinema was operating until at least March 1977.

DavidSimpson
DavidSimpson commented about Cineworld Cinema - Loughborough on Dec 12, 2016 at 4:07 pm

Although I now live in Southend-on-Sea, Loughborough is my home town and, on visits to see my father, I was able to periodically document the construction of the Cineworld. I have numbered these “Construction photographs” as “1 of 22”, etc. The first ones were taken in February 2015, when the foundations were being dug out.

I well remember the former General Hospital (though thankfully I had little need of its services!). It had been built in 1863, with many additions over the years, especially in the 1930s, but had become very outdated. It had closed in March 2003 and was eventually demolished in 2012.

The question now is whether a medium-sized town such as Loughborough can support two multi-screen cinemas. When I made my first visit to the Cineworld, in December 2016 to see “Allied”, starring Brad Pitt and Marion Cotillard, there was clearly a price war, with seats for standard 2D films, all day every day, being just £5.00, to counteract the Odeon’s £4.00. As a new, purpose-built multiplex the Cineworld clearly has the advantage, but it would be a shame if the historic Odeon was forced to close.

DavidSimpson
DavidSimpson commented about Regal Cinema on Dec 12, 2016 at 10:20 am

This wonderful cinema is currently in the very safe hands of manager Jacob Mundin, a member of the family that has rescued the Ritz at Belper, Derbyshire, and the Savoy at Heaton Moor, Greater Manchester. After initially re-opening in March 2013, The Regal re-opened again on 23rd June 2016 following further refurbishment and is proving extremely popular with local cinemagoers (as is the membership scheme, which allows members £1.50 off the ticket price, together with other benefits).

But tribute should be paid to former operator John Merryweather, who took over in 2000 but sadly died, at only 65 years of age, in April 2012. In April 2007 he proved to be a very welcoming host during the Cinema Theatre Association’s visit to Leicestershire. No doubt he would be delighted that his cinema is continuing to provide the town’s film entertainment.

DavidSimpson
DavidSimpson commented about Everyman Harrogate on Nov 8, 2016 at 6:12 pm

The box office is in the ground floor corner entrance. A stairway or lift takes patrons up to the first floor where there is a large bar/diner/lounge (where a “Spielburger”(!) can be purchased, alongside the usual pizzas, hot dogs and spicy chicken wings) and there is the entrance to Screen 5. Classic film posters decorate many of the walls. Screens 1 to 4 are on the next floor up.

DavidSimpson
DavidSimpson commented about Pocklington Arts Centre on Nov 8, 2016 at 4:34 pm

The Arts Centre re-opened in May 2016 after a full refurbishment, which saw a bar/lounge being created in former storage space on the first floor. A side lounge is fitted with a screen and projector for informal, small-scale screenings.

DavidSimpson
DavidSimpson commented about Jam Jar Cinema on Nov 8, 2016 at 3:19 pm

When I visited, in October 2016 for a screening of “Life on the Road”, starring Ricky Gervais, I was given a very warm welcome by founder Dan Ellis and his colleague Barbara. Dan was inspired to set up this not-for-profit, community interest company-run cinema when he noticed that people were having to travel some distance away from the town to the cinema. The Jam Jar Cinema, on the first floor of a former Job Centre, is certainly staffed by enthusiastic volunteers. There is a very pleasant bar/lounge. In the auditorium, the original 42 previously-unused Odeon ‘Premier’ seats have, since opening, been joined by four two-seater settees across the front, increasing the capacity to 50. With such a relatively small capacity many screenings sell out. There are also accessibility issues, as the only way up is via a steep flight of stairs. For these reasons, Dan is on the lookout for larger, more accessible premises. However, in the meantime, he and his team are doing a super job, and I wished him every success.

DavidSimpson
DavidSimpson commented about Cineworld Cinema - Dalton Park on Nov 8, 2016 at 2:46 pm

During my visit, in October 2016 to see “Deepwater Horizon”, starring Kurt Russell and Mark Wahlberg, I had a nice chat with the very friendly staff, and was informed that the seating capacities are: Screen 1:268; Screen 2:67; Screen 3:47; Screen 4:180; Screen 5:173; Screen 6:147 and Screen 7:111.