It seems a shame in London to grace the static lint-laden carpets of Cineworlds and the likes when there are so many amazing old picture houses; particularly, The Phoenix in East Finchley. I’ve heard, if you are a bit more Southerly inclined, there is an equally charming little cinema in Clapham.
When you enter The Phoenix, it’s status as “the oldest cinemas in the UK” is not a surprise. One is immediately transported back; with the quaint popcorn vendor and posters of whichever cult film they are screening that month.
As it is an independent business, it is a wonder that it has survived for more than a century and myriad economic crises. Or is it?
Although it is more expensive, it is much more appealing. Maybe it is because of the worlds new-found love for all things “vintage”. Possibly this began with the appeal of not spending more money or making unnecessary things; both seem to make sense given the financial clime. However, in both cases: the more years, the more money.
Luckily, it has grabbed the attention of the well-off art-house scenesters. Picture houses are cool. No self-respecting film critic would be seen dead in a multiplex. Mark Kermode recently talked about his loyalty to The Phoenix and the importance of supporting art house cinemas. He reasoned that the smaller cinemas screen more interesting films, and we will miss them when they are gone – like charming local groceries being bankrupt by supermarkets.
Whether it is due to the love of all things old, the superior film selections, or just plain kookiness; I think we all hope The Phoenix can bear witness to the next 100 years of film history.