London’s Coolest and Weirdest Cinemas
Going to the cinema is one of my favourite activities. I love everything about it. The feel of the leather (if you’re lucky) seats, the smell of popcorn in the air (so much more so than the price or taste!). Films in general, for both their voyeurism and entertainment value.
I love film so much I studied it in both a theoretical and practical sense during the course of my tertiary education. I highly recommend this to anyone who enjoys wasting their money.
So, there’s nothing quite like a trip out to the cinema – and there’s nowhere else like London to go and take in a film. My current city is home to some of the most interesting, intriguing and cheapest venues I’ve ever caught a flick at.
Here are some of London’s coolest and weirdest cinemas. Some are already beloved favourites and others I’m hoping to make it to in the near future.
Although the venue is small and viewings limited, at £4.99 a ticket, I see no reason to complain. Beats the £15 it costs to see a movie at Leicester Square, that’s for sure.
The Prince Charles Cinema, Leicester Square
That being said, there is one film-related reason to visit Leicester Square, thanks to the existence of the Prince Charles Cinema. One of London’s kookiest movie houses, it regularly features both recent releases and reruns of classics – from Alien, to Wayne’s World and the odd Disney film.
There are movie, beer and pizza nights, regular sing-a-longs to the likes of Grease, Frozen and the Rocky Horror Picture show and £1 weekly films for members (it’s £10 to join for a year – £50 for life and you get discounts on most viewings).
Almost every year, infamous director/actor Tommy Wiseau journeys out to this cinema to host a talk before the screening of his film The Room – a movie that has regularly been hailed as the worst ever made and has developed a cult following as a result. IF I DON’T MAKE IT TO THIS EVENT IN MY LIFETIME, I WILL CRY.
Curzon at Goldsmiths, New Cross
Curzon have their fingers in many different pies. The company recently partnered with Goldsmith’s college to open the closest thing to a cinema in the Lewisham borough in over ten years.
The off-peak tickets are reasonably priced and the venue hopes the play host to both art house films and live theatre/opera/music events.
Definitely one to keep an eye on.
Soho’s Curzon has been in the news a fair bit of late, for all the wrong reasons.
At the moment, there is proposed project in the works, called Crossrail 2. In a nutshell, Transport for London are hoping to implement a new north-south train line, that could run through the heart of the city’s entertainment district, which may result in the demolition of the art house cinema.
I continue to roll my eyes at the constant attempts to destroy or decimate London’s cultural heritage. The Curzon is fortunate enough to have a steady amount of star power behind it, but who knows what the final outcome will be.
If anything, go catch a flick there because it may be one of the last chances you’ll have to do so. Bleak.
As I mentioned earlier, Lewisham is one of two boroughs of London that doesn’t have a cinema. A small team of volunteers in Deptford hope to solve this problem, with the community run Deptford Cinema.
The venue runs a range of programs – which volunteers are invited to help discuss and schedule. I am constantly awed by the range and scope of cinema screened there. My first attendance was for a Georgian coming of age film and I was disappointed to have recently missed the Iranian film festival that ran in celebration of the Persian New Year.
This not-for-profit organisation is one of the coolest things happening at present in South-East London (as a resident of the area, I can and will assure you that there are many others).
Rooftop Film Club, Peckham
There are so many reasons to love Peckham. Here’s yet another.
Every summer, the top of the Bussey building is transformed into a rooftop cinema, run by the Rooftop Film Club – who have cinemas across LA, NY and London.
The cinema screens a whole range of films, from classics such as Casablanca or Pulp Fiction to the more contemporary films of the season.
Keep an eye on the ticket pages, as they sell out fast – particularly in the summer months.
Although the cinema provides blankets, I’d recommend wearing warm and possibly waterproof clothes. London weather is notorious for being quite unpredictable.
Genesis Cinema, Whitechapel
If you fancy seeing a film on a Monday or Wednesday and happen to be in the area, Genesis Cinemas have one of the most reasonably priced ticket deals in London, at £4.50 a pop. The Barbican Cinema has a similar deal, with £6 tickets every Mondays.
The cinema screens a healthy range of blockbuster and art house movies, along with events such as film festivals, Q&As, poetry slams and swing dancing.
The Institute of Contemporary Arts is another venue in London for those who have a penchant for art house cinema.
Along with films, the cinema hosts a range of festivals, talks and exhibitions – with a view of promoting an understanding of radical art and culture. Whatever that means.
The Ritzy, Brixton
The Ritzy in Brixton deserves an honourable mention for several reasons. One is the fact that it survived the purge of many of south London’s cinemas, thanks to past management and Lambeth council.
Although it’s now part of the Picturehouse chain of cinemas, great care was taken to restore it to its original style and decor in 2009. It now serves as both a cinema and a live music venue.
Lastly, I had a laugh at this tidbit of information from its Wikipedia page:
During the 1980s the cinema developed a reputation as having a left-wing agenda, so much so that the incumbent manager was motivated to place an advert in the local press advising potential patrons that that not every film that the cinema screened was “left-wing or gay”.
The Floating Cinema
Let’s end this list on a slightly strange note. I am more than intrigued by the Floating Cinema – a mobile film venue that can be found among the canals and waterways of London and beyond.
Over the course of the last few years, this particular cinema has featured workshops (such as documentary making), on-board screenings and talks, as well as projecting to larger scale audiences on land close to water.
There’s no information available as yet on the schedule for 2016. If this is truly subject to change, guaranteed I will be there!
Are you a fan of cinemas? What are your favourites, around London and the world?