Movie magic at The Phil: The Artist

Heaven, I’m in heaven…

My first true love, culturally speaking, has always been film.  When I was a little girl my mum used to regale me with stories of going to see the old musicals at The Picturedrome in Kensington; her and her little sister asking couples, “Take two in, mister?” so they could sneak in unaccompanied.  When I was young it was the time of Saturday matinees when we’d go to The Carlton on Green Lane and watch a Sinbad double bill or a cartoon marathon with a box of Poppets. The cinema has always been a special place for me.

Fast forward to 2012 and we have giant, corporate multiplexes and film on demand in our own homes.  While all of this is marvellous and innovative, I’ve always hankered for a little bit of the old-style magic of cinema going.  And so it was that I went to a movie showing at The Philharmonic to see this year’s multi-award winning The Artist.

It really was like stepping through a door to the past.  The place was packed and there were blessedly no messages selling nachos in the foyer or telling you to turn your cell phone off (ugh!), just a load of people wanting something a little bit different and a little bit special.

The session started with a man in a kilt playing a Wurlitzer-style organ on the stage before a giant, red curtained screen came up through the floor.  I was almost waiting for a Pathé newsreel to come on! The gorgeous Art Deco surroundings in The Phil were the perfect setting for The Artist, a film made in the style of the old black & white silent classics it evoked.

As the film started, we moviegoers watched on film a theatre full of moviegoers watching a black and white film.  It felt like we had our very own movie-within-a-movie thing going on.  The only difference, sadly, that in our theatre the men weren’t in dinner suits and the women weren’t in fabulous evening gowns and white gloves.

The Artist is so beautifully done I could have wept.  Leading man Jean Dujardin showed exactly why he’d won so many plaudits, evoking Gene Kelly’s intoxicating blend of masculinity, beauty and grace, with old-school Errol Flynn-style eyebrow acting to die for.  And the rest of the cast, especially Bérénice Bejo, James Cromwell and Uggie the dog, were a joy to watch as well.

I left with a feeling I’ve never once had at a multiplex – that we’d all experienced something a little bit magical.  So if you love film, give yourself a treat and go to one of these wonderful sessions. You’ll thank me for it. And that’s a promise.

Check out upcoming films at the Phil here.

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