Dingo the Dissident

THE BLOG OF DISQUIET : Qweir Notions in the Armpit of Diogenes by DINGO the DISSIDENT binge-thinker since February 2008.

Saturday, 28 November 2015

The only film I ever saw in the Grand cinema, Downpatrick,

not long before it closed, was Letter to Brezhnev.

That must have been in 1986.
There is not a single photo on the Web of this modest, late, degenerate
art-deco building, now disappeared - of course - until now,
I have just discovered this rather glum photo of a rather sad building.

Those which I visited during boyhood in Belfast
(always for afternoon showings of 'fifties trash) have also disappeared:
The Alhambra, Apollo, Princess, Regal, Ambassador, Majestic,
(later Gaumont), Curzon, Avenue*, Ritz, Imperial, Royal, Strand (which lasted longest), Rex, Astoria, Mayfair (some foreign, X-rated films; later became the News and Cartoon Cinema), Hippodrome (formerly a music-hall, latterly The Odeon)
The Picturedrome, and even, for a depressing while, The Grand Opera House
before it was restored to its original Victorian glory.

It's a very common story -
but, by contrast, in a village of 2,000 people in the south-west of France
an hotel was bought over thirty years ago and turned into a cinema
where (in the last eleven years) I have seen splendid films from France (of course),
Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Belgium, Germany, Iran, Italy, Turkey, Macedonia, Serbia, Hungary, Russia, Germany, Japan, Afghanistan, Argentina, Spain, Mauretania, Mali, Australia, New Zealand, Iceland, Canada, Scotland, England...and even (Southern) Ireland.

The first 'real' film I saw was, of course, in London:  Bergman's Virgin Spring.
I have seen almost no trite Hollywood movies since then.
(Though the other night
I watched Thelma and Louise with great delight - and subtitles for the hard of hearing.)

*The Picture House, Royal Avenue:
"The first Belfast cinema proper, with no connection to the music halls, The Picture House was located on Royal Avenue. Always the first cinema to utilise new technology, The Picture House showed Jolsen’s The Jazz Singer in 1929, which was Belfast’s first commercially produced talkie. Taken over by the Odeon group, it became the Avenue, the home of long-running blockbusters. Blown apart by a huge bomb in 1974, the Avenue attempted to come back to prominence, but ended up showing soft porn and putting on bingo. This historic venue was put out of its misery in 1982."

The tiny Tudor cinema, in Comber, some 20 km from Belfast
now hosts special screenings for special groups.

Their treat is 'Casablanca'

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