Saturday, April 12, 2008

We were robbed

Last night we had the unaccustomed pleasure of a visit to the cinema. We went to see "The Bank Job", a very enjoyable picture embroidered by Dick Clement and Ian La Frenais on the basis of an actual robbery that took place in Baker Street in 1971. What makes it sing is their plausible inclusion of threads relating to real life figures from that time like Princess Margaret, Michael X and Lord Mountbatten. These were the people that you would read about in the Sunday papers in the days when scandal was hinted at but never quite spelled out.

It can't have done all that well at the box office because the Odeon Leicester Square had banished it to Screen Five, a former box-room at the top of the building which has space for just about forty seats. Leg room is further reduced by the thoughtful installation in the back of each seat of a cup-holder, as if to remind you that your main job as a customer is to consume their confectionery. Having paid £19 for the two of us, eating was out of the question.


  1. I cannot abide the insistence that a visit to the cinema has to be accompanied by a container of popcorn so large that, when empty, it will serve as an adult sized hat. My daughter insists on the nachos they serve in Enfield, which look and smell like the most disgusting thing known to humanity. But what really winds me up is that the cinemas have sold this myth to the public: that the cinemagoing experience is somehow incomplete unless you eat and drink stupid amounts of crap at the same time. At the risk of sounding like an old fart, I'd rather watch the film at home with the volume up and the lights off. I'll probably get a better print of the film that way, too.

    I've said it before, but when I was young, people used to talk about certain films that "you simply had to see at the cinema". I think that the greatest sea change in the cinematic culture of the last fifteen years is that this is no longer true. There are many films that I'd rather watch on DVD.

  2. In defence of the cinemas they do say that the rentals demanded by the studios are now so exorbitant that they make most of their money out of the confectionery. So if you're nauseated by the smell of popcorn, blame Tom Cruise's agent.

  3. I'll have a word next time he's doing one of his fan tours of Leicester Square.

  4. I've been priced out of my local cinema. £7.20 for a standard seat. £5.50 before 2pm, but they hardly put anything on at that time of day. I don't feel a burning need to see 'Hannah Montana'.

    The last time I went, the toner in the ticket printing machine was running out. An enormous queue built-up as one staff member sold seats, while the other went over the details on the tickets in biro.

    I wouldn't mind the pricing so much if visiting my local multiplex was a pleasant experience. It's not. It's a bare bones operation. Once they have your money they don't seem to care.

  5. Anonymous2:25 pm

    You should try the excellent Curzon Soho, assuming there is something on there you want to watch. Good screens, great sound, good coffee shop and bar. IMHO it's worth paying for the big screen and the sound quality. Bear in mind that cinema going used to be financially comparable to going to footy. Not that you would pay upwards of £50 to see a film, but it hasn't gone up that much in fifteen years, and you don't think twice about spending a similar amount of money in the pub, or on a couple of mags etc.

  6. On the plus side, if you're willing to go to Cineworld (I believe there's one near Leicester Square although I don't live in London any more) - they have a subscription card that's less than �15 per month for as many films as you'd like to see. It's even less than that outside of London.

    The downside being that because I go to the cinema and don't feel like I've paid, I'm more inclined to buy the popcorn!

  7. Anonymous10:11 am

    I always buy a packet of opal fruits from the corner shop when I go to he cinema. You get a fresh fruity confectionary and as they're made to make your mouth water there's no need to buy a drink.

  8. Anonymous9:34 pm

    Years ago I worked in the box office at the Odeon Leicester Square. Tourists, especiallly Americans, could not believe the price of admission, and were often not best pleased when they realised that their expensive tickets did not get them in to the main screen where they would at least see the film on a big screen through a decent sound system, but rather gained them entry to a shoe box.