In praise of small cinemas and a review

Malvern Theatres entrance

[An old post, rescued from the Drafts folder.]

Last Friday I watched Iron Man 3 (verdict: meh) at my local multiplex. Comfy seats. Huge screen. Lots of choice. 3D.

This is not my preferred cinema, however, and not just because it’s expensive. Most weeks I go to the (much smaller) cinema at Malvern Theatres. Here’s why:

  • Nostalgia. I have been going to Malvern cinema since I was a child. I’m pretty sure the first film I watched there was Star Trek: TMP. I know I saw Jedi.  It was also the cinema where I held hands with Georgina all the way through Ghostbusters. We were nine. I have seen some real crap there and some real gems. It is my cinema.
  • My mum. This is where mum and I watch films together. I remember watching Tarzan: The Legend of Graystoke when I was a boy. Last night we watched Promised Land (verdict: meh). Last year we were mesmerised by The Artist.
  • You can sit upstairs in the circle. I like walking upstairs and the seats seem to have a bit more room up there (these are not deep, multiplex-style seats, although we are getting new ones). Malvern is an old art-deco-y cinema and it just feels right to have circle and stalls. (Don’t sit in the stalls right beneath the balcony though.)
  • You get what you’re given. We are members of Malvern Theatres for which we get a certain amount of theatre tickets per year (next up: the stage version of The Woman in Black) and weekly cinema tickets. There is only one screen (newly digital) and so we watch what comes. I watch most things and given I have already paid, I don’t mind taking a risk. Which brings me to a film I would not/could not have gone to the multiplex to see.


In Trance, Danny Boyle once again makes London look cool. Trippy music and neon sets take us inside the head of Simon (James McAvoy), an art thief who, after a hit on the head, cannot remember where he hid a stolen painting. Hypnotherapist Elizabeth Lamb (Rosario Dawson) tries to recover his memories and blows everyone’s minds in the meantime.

The trip lasts for most of the film but runs out of juice towards the end when Dawson (in full Basil Exposition mode) has to explain to the viewer What It Is All About. This is too bad as leaving the difference between reality and illusion ambiguous would have made for a much better film. 6/10.

When we lived in Baltimore, the Senator had a similar vibe. What’s your favourite cinema?