Have you ever thought about how much more glamorous and exciting cinema-going must have been in the past? I have. In fact it has crossed my mind almost every time I’ve bought my ticket at the almost over-poweringly Americanised multiplex, chosen between popcorn or ice-cream and taken my seat in the comforting darkness to immerse myself in a movie for an hour or so.
Well, glamorous cinema is alive at The Electric Cinema on the Portobello Road. A bit of a London institution, The Electric is the sort of place you’ve probably heard of but maybe never quite bothered to go to. Well you should! It feels totally different to the ‘normal’ cinema experience.
You collect your tickets at the door from pretty girls dressed in flouncy, floral vintage dresses plucked straight from the stalls outside- that’s the dresses, not the girls. There’s something quaint and charming even about the little library card boxes where they alphabetise the ticket orders. Inside the atmosphere is really fun and relaxed, and there’s a bar where you can order drinks and food- there are things like salmon mousse or lobster alongside the usual popcorn and particularly delicious chocolate ice-cream. Then you take your seat and -wow- what great seats they are! Big, butter soft, leather armchairs that you can melt into while you pop your feet up onto a perfectly positioned and (crucially) fixed, footstool.
There’s even an ice bucket for your bottle of wine.The best seats in the house are the two enormous leather sofas at the back, but they are notoriously difficult to book, and I must admit I have never been one of the lucky (sofa) ones.
Ok, so tickets are a bit more expensive than the average, but if you want to rediscover the fun and the glamour in cinema, you won’t regret the inflated price.
The last film I saw there was Cemetry Junction- a coming of age drama in a similar vein to Mawi girls’ favourite An Education.
The film is set in a slightly too appealing , but apparently very oppressive and restrictive version of Reading. The plot centres around the lives of three young boys and their ambitions, or lack of ambitions, at a crucial juncture in their lives. There’s also a romantic plot line based around a childhood sweet heart endearingly played by the incredibly pretty Felicity Jones, whose dreams of National Geographic-inspired escape intersect with those of the rather dreamy Christian Cooke and contrast with her mother’s own unfulfilled, Stepford-wife existence.
The film has met with criticism for its life-affirming elements (not very British) but where can we dream if not in the cinema? Besides, something about the retro setting makes me feel more forgiving towards the wide-eyed naivety of the hero and heroine. I feel as if the world was less saturated ‘way back then’ and remote travel was an original ambition and not the apparent birth-right of every ‘gap yah‘ student…
Cemetry Junction is directed by Ricky Gervais and after the great disappointment of The Invention of Lying, this restored my faith in his ability for genuinely hilarious dialogue. Well worth a watch, and if you can see it at The Electric, even better!
The Electric Cinema
191 Portobello Road,
London W11 2ED
+44(0)20 7229 8688