My experience of cinemas before I moved to London wasn’t particularly inspiring. When I lived in Eastbourne (I call it Brighton’s boring, miserable and paranoid older brother), there was either a new cinema complex that was ugly and characterless but had all the new releases, or there was an old and classically-decorated cinema that had real character but only showed Jumanji. Now in London I’ve found the Ritzy Cinema in Brixton, where I pretty much get the best of both worlds.
The Ritzy is a genuine architectural feature of Brixton. City Screen and its subdivision Picture House Cinemas own the Ritzy and several others in London, and their goal has been to maintain ‘architecturally interesting cinemas in city centre locations’. With Odeons and Cineworlds popping up all over the place this has inevitably been hard, but City Screen is doing a wonderful job if the Ritzy is anything to go by. It attracts great numbers with its authentic design and decor.
It serves up a fantastic mix of cinema too. Here you can expect to find brand-new blockbusters right next to art-house films, independent projects, classics and world cinema. It also hosts regular Q&A sessions with filmmakers and personalities. A few years ago Chris Morris gave a talk after a screening of his film Four Lions. Also Joe Cornish – one half of Adam and Joe – gave a talk following his film Attack The Block. This sort of terribly exciting thing is commonplace to regulars at the cinema.
Some of the rooms have been restored from their beautiful 1911 form, the year in which the original cinema was erected. It also features a cafe at the front of the building which adds a particular charm to coming here. In the summer there is nothing better than watching a film and then having a drink in the cafe outside and chatting about it, pretending, if you’re me, to know far more about cinema than you actually do.
The Ritzy is a blend of old and new, and it gets the blend just right. There is something refreshing about being in a cinema where people don’t buy cups of cokes that are bigger than their own heads. Equally, it’s nice that to get that you don’t have to compromise by having to watch Dunston Checks In (although actually I would love to watch that on the big screen. For those that don’t know, it’s a film about a monkey hiding in a hotel. Writes itself doesn’t it?). The Ritzy is a fabulous cinema and I firmly encourage you to go there.
The Ritzy, Coldharbour Lane, Brixton, SW2 1JG