I’m a great fan of cinema and much prefer seeing a film on the big screen than on the TV with all the fun of the movie going experience. London has an amazing range of cinemas, from the swanky thousand-plus seaters in Leicester Square like the Empire and Odeon, through to the many intimate local and boutique places.
London has great movie credentials as it hosts one of the world’s top film festivals in October every year when over 200 films are on show and the stars come to town to parade on the red carpets. As a venue for shooting of films there are too many to mention but from the top of my head come ‘Notting Hill’, ‘The King’s Speech’, ‘Harry Potter’, ‘Bridget Jones’ and of course the recently released ‘Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy’.
My favourite cinemas are the small, boutique and quirky ones and here are my top 5, not in any order as it’s too hard to chose! Those of you with a working knowledge of London cinemas will notice that these are all around the Notting Hill area. This is not just because I live there, but we have an amazing concentration of great movie houses and I celebrate that!
1. The Electric
This is the last word in luxurious film viewing with extra wide seats, a bar with snacks in the auditorium, plenty of space for drinks by your seat, a footstool, bed sized seats at the back for – well, best leave that there…. All this and up to the moment films and a long and interesting history as they have closed and nearly gone under many times since opening in 1910! They are one of the oldest working cinemas in the UK
2. The Lexi
This a wonderful warm hearted little cinema, staffed by volunteers and sending their profits out to an amazing project in Africa, the Sustainability Institute. They show you a film about their work with kids so you are in no doubt as to the good they do. You can catch the latest films here and it’s well worth heading out to find them.
3. The Gate
The Gate is a very comfortable stylish cinema dating from 1911 with a splendid Edwardian interior. It is an independent cinema showing big name films as well as more hard to find gems and live screenings of opera and plays from the National Theatre, which is pretty cool of them!
4. Portobello Pop Up
This is a brilliant place – a digital non profit microplex, the antidote to multiplexes, made of recycled materials, sitting under the Westway. The box office is made out of – you’ve guessed – cardboard boxes and the seats are a collection of odd reclaimed seats. They show a range of films, of with director’s Q&A. This year I saw My Beautiful Launderette with a chance to chat to Michael Frears. There’s no booking, no tickets, you just turn up – how refreshing! Just check when their season is….
5. The Coronet
Lots of history associated with the Coronet as it started as a theatre in 1898, featured in the film Notting Hill (remember the scene where Hugh wears his snorkel goggles – of course you do!) and I recall it being the last cinema you could smoke in – upstairs only! The interior gives away its theatrical background and the tickets for all the latest films are good value too.
London has loads more great cinemas but these are my top 5 – which are yours?
Bye for now,