Going to the pictures used to mean something, you know what I mean?
You would get dressed up. There would be usherettes to see you to your seat and give you free cigarettes. And you’d get seven films, a newsreel, a cartoon and a nudist documentary, all for a halfpenny.
Now a child with spots pokes you with a stick as you sit in a pile of rancid Maltesers and sadness.
But there are still some unique film going experiences out there. Movie palaces that proudly bear the moniker ‘weird’. Take a quick tour around the globe’s strangest and most impressive film venues.
Exuding all the best of English eccentricity, like a man with a large moustache and a pith helmet throwing cribbage pieces at a lion, this former farm building is one of the oldest cinemas in the country opening in 1922.
Nestled in the village of Woodhall Spa, from the outside it resembles an enormous ski lodge gone slightly wrong, while the interior, featuring a classic crimped curtain and bountiful murals, is awesome. And there’s an organ!
Cinema d’Ete: Monaco
You can rely on those swanky denizens of Monaco to produce something a bit plush and extremely luxurious when it comes to showing movies.
The Cinema d’Ete claims to be the largest open-air cinema on Earth. It’s probably the most picturesque as it appears to hang over the Mediterranean Ocean like a big expensive barnacle. So if they are showing an Adam Sandler retrospective, there will be either something else to look at, or something to hurl yourself off.
What a whopper!
The largest cinema in Northern Europe and the largest THX cinema anywhere on the globe.
But what is great about this Norwegian wonder is the bloody great dome that houses the auditorium and sits upon it like a large, exciting boob. I have to say, after experiencing the Kino, I had a very disappointing visit to St Paul’s Cathedral, where its own great dome fails to house any Shia LaBeouf vehicles, but rather contains old paintings and vicars and stuff. Very poor.
Broadway Cinemas: Hangzhou, China
Located in a posh shopping centre, this looks like the sort of cinema that Blade Runner would have gone to after a hard day of blade running.
Shiny curved surfaces, weird rippled ceiling, information screens everywhere and everything as white as a snowman’s tan line. Futuristic doesn’t do it justice. It’s like the sort of cinema where the characters in a film that’s set in the future, who go to the cinema to see a film featuring a cinema set in the future, would see.
As Jeremy Clarkson has continually proven, always think before opening your mouth and also, caravans are a bit rubbish. Besides providing ample material for quite untimely stand-up comedians, they have been usurped by RV’s, motorhomes and trailers in the ‘things on wheels you can go on holiday in’ stakes.
But some ingenious British types have turned a vintage 1972 Euro-Camper caravan into the world’s smallest solar-powered cinema. 8 conventionally sized patrons can enjoy quality films, offered in a stylish, if petite surroundings.
Luna Palace: Margaret’s River, Australia
I am continually lobbying my local multiplex to relax their alcohol consumption rules. ‘So what if it’s a 11am mother and baby screening of Happy Feet 2, Special Brew is an anytime drink’ I tend to bellow before being ejected.
But the Australians know what they are doing booze and leisure time wise, hence this rather lovely cinema in a vineyard. Located in the Margaret River Wine Region, you can slurp on a cheeky little Shiraz, while watching Paul Hogan’s finest on an endless loop. What could be more pleasurable? Other than death?
Famed not so much for the size or the décor or the odd location, but more for the fact that the place is supposedly haunted by the ghost of a nine-year old girl.
Like The Sixth Sense come to life, Mary (the ghost) wanders the aisles, plays the organ and even turns the seats away from the screen if it’s a show that she doesn’t like. Her favourite seat is said to be C-5, where patrons have experienced cold chills that has nothing to do with the fact that it’s located right by the fire exit.
Sometimes you’ll find a cinema in a shopping centre. But with this vast monument to the movies, the cinema is the SIZE of a shopping centre.
Cologne’s cinema colossus boasts 14 theatres and 2300 seats, with restaurants downstairs in the lobby and three floors of cinematic fun. But it’s the outside that is the most impressive, looking like a monster movie factory slap in the middle of the futuristic ‘media park’.
Rooftop Films: New York City, USA
If the quality of Hollywood’s latest offerings has made you feel like hurling yourself off the nearest roof, then best avoid this annual New York event, showing a wide range of shorts and documentaries on the sides of various buildings.
Blasting little seen films against structures all over the city, hotels, factories and museums have acted as the projection screen. Lots of fun – if it’s not raining.
Claiming to be Japan’s tiniest cinema venue, this microscopic movie house has a rather unusual seating arrangement. With only 40 people able to cram themselves into the auditorium, each chair is different and mobile.
That’s right, you can sit where you want! Really close to the screen, really far from the screen, over in the corner, right by that man who keeps complaining about you moving around. Anywhere! You can even take your own favourite chair if you wish (Editor’s note: you can’t take your own chair to the cinema. That would be silly).