Have you seen Cinema Paradiso? It's an unassuming love letter to the cinema. I believe everyone should have a cinema like that. Somewhere that transports them to a different world or at least puts a smile on their face on a grey day.
Multiplexes are all good and well for action packed blockbusters; it's fun to have a shitload of strangers to cheer and scream at the same time as you. But if you're not in the giant battery chicken coop mood, even in big old London town you can find the intimacy of a small cinema.
If Anyone Can, Barbican!
This urban entertainment and residential complex has been bestowed with the oxymoronic title of my dream dystopian paradise. How I long to inhabit its brutalist exterior! Deep down in the concrete there are a few cinema screens. And on a Sunday morning I found myself in Cinema 2. The air-con that day may not have been up to the job but the clean sleek room and relaxed atmosphere chilled me out no end.
If you like your film, theatre and music going at it in a cultural threesome, the Barbican membership will probably leave you satisfied - you get discounts AND special screenings.
we were the only ones in that row that weren't getting laid that night
Turn the lights out Renoir
I went to the Curzon Renoir cinema on what, at the time, was the hottest day of the year. I regret nothing! Just a hop away from Russell Square tube, I had no idea there was another concrete gem in London. The cinema's glass ticket booth entrance has charm and flare that I'd expect from a frenchily named cinema. The two guys who served me and my friend where nice enough offer up some useful information. They told us EXACTLY when the film would start so we could sit in the sunshine and eat ice cream until the very last moment before the lights went down.
This place is not a cheap date. This is a classy cinema that loves glamour, excess and lots of red velvet. There is nothing understated here. Unlike the cool exterior of the previous two, the Electric cinema gives you a taste of old Hollywood. Not only that, it's got a diner!
Its low arched roof making you feel like the waitress at the door is walking you into a pizza oven but somehow that's exactly where you want to be. The food is incredible but it's really the atmosphere of this place that whet my appetite, you could seriously be starring in your own movie in this setting.
I couldn't have been happier if I'd have seen a man face down in a swimming pool on the screen (points if you get the reference). The sweeping curve of the gold kissed ceiling, the rows of plump ox blood red leather seats, each with its own little mirrored table and some with a perfectly placed lamp.
You're told to "Grab a glass at the bar at the back, take the blanket out of the matching leather foot stool and sit back. Relax." This is pricey but well worth the experience.
It does offer a cheaper and saucier option than the armchairs; behold the red velvet lounging beds! They're 15 quid a head and right at the front of the screen. The soft sexy bargain bed is where me and my friend lay but we were the only ones in that row that weren't getting laid that night. This row was couple central. By the time the lights went up, I had three sets of people re-enacting From Here to Eternity minus the waves lapping around them. Actually the whole audience seemed to be in hot date mode. I have to agree the chemistry of the place is living up to its name.