The Prince Charles Cinema Is Awesome
Everyone in London probably already knows about this, so this isn’t one of those ‘hidden London’ style posts (unlike when I, erm, noticed that Islington has pubs). But I feel compelled to pay tribute to the continuing excellence of the Prince Charles cinema, the only repertory cinema in central London, and certainly the only reason to venture to Leicester Square.
It’s a proper repertory cinema, which shows a big crazy melange of everything, rather than the posh repertorys where they only show subtitled films about relationships and shit. Don’t get me wrong, I love beautifully shot subtitled talky-films about relationships and shit as much as the next man, but sometimes you just want to watch Star Trek 2: The Wrath of Imran Khan. Or The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly. Or Who Framed Roger Rabbit. Or the epic roadtrip eccentricity charm of Separado, which featured Gruff Rhys travelling to Patagonia to find a long lost folk-singing relative while dressed as a Power Ranger.
The place is pretty chaotically run, largely by a bunch of permanently stoned twentysomethings who play their own crap music at ear-bending volume in the foyer, serve you with immaculate insouciance, and occasionally screw up in a fairly major way (like closing the curtains during the final climactic fight scene, or putting the film in upside down). But this only adds to the charm, and besides: if you’re a member you’ve only paid £4 in any case.
The showings are sometimes absurdly underpopulated*** – for Separado there can’t have been more than six of us in the cinema – and the place is a bit sticky and dingy. If you are a fan of shit modern Hollywood ‘classics’ like Dark Knight or Avatar**, this isn’t the place for you. Sure, they’ll show them, on the upstairs screen a month after the rest of the country, but you won’t like it. The sound won’t be good enough for you.
Meanwhile, downstairs, the sheer range of films they show is impressive. This week you’ve been able to watch Chinatown, George Lucas’ first film, the future-satire THX 1138, the Marx Brothers classic Duck Soup, Metropolis, or a Japanese film called Big Tits Zombie. Let me repeat that: a Japanese film called Big Tits Zombie. In 3D. Also, its double bills are works of twisted genius – upcoming double whammies include Goonies / Raiders Of The Lost Arc, Ghost In The Shell 2.0 & Spirited Away, Gremlins & Die Hard (YES!), and the inspirational pairing of Wayne’s World & Waynes’s World 2.
Meanwhile, your local multiplex is showing the sequel to Wall Street, a biopic based on Facebook, and a film called “Eat, Pray, Love” starring Julia Roberts.
* directed by the apparently-controversial-nowadays Roman Polanski.
** I don’t hate all modern Hollywood films, just think the vast majority are unwatchable these days (compare Back To The Future with any present day family action/adventure film. I rest my case). I like the pixar films though. Except when they’re about Cars.
*** I live in fear of it closing