Seven deadly cines

You know you’re turning into an old fart when you go to the cinema and you’re more interesting in the building the film is being shown in than the feature itself. In Paris it’s hard not to be though. There are all these beautiful art deco theatres that presumably sprung up as the movies started to become popular, and being Paris, many have stayed that way. Bear in mind too that cinema was invented here – which is perhaps why the French take film more seriously than the rest of the world. I remember my surprise when I went to get up during the credits of the first film I watched here, and everyone remained respectfully seated taking in the whole production and the people who brought it to them.

I shall refrain from writing too much here because I’m hoping to write about it somewhere else for money, though I’ll tell you a little bit about seven cinemas in order to make that title work. I do still go to the UGC Cine Cite Les Halles for blockbusters, but when I went to see the documentary The Venerable W. about a month ago it was tucked away at screen 23 and took about half an hour to walk there. It’s still nicer than going to Cineworld in Crawley to be honest, but you don’t get the same sense of occasion as you do with the following.

Le Grand Rex, situated on Boulevard Poissonniere, is an ornately stylish and, as its name might suggest, mighty cinema in central Paris. As well as films I’ve also seen Sufjan Stevens there. A lot of premiers take place at the Rex, and you also have to be careful as some of the films are dubbed into French. Discovering this one night before a film thankfully, it’s the only time (someone behind me in the queue as it happens) was racist towards me for being a rosbif. Across the road is the Max Linder Panorama, which I only discovered recently. I went along to watch Dunkirk there (which the French call Dunkerque for some reason) and it was the perfect place to watch a film like that. The Max Linder only shows one film at a time, and when you get in you know why – if it doesn’t have the biggest screen in Paris then I’ll eat my chapeau.

I’m a fan of the Action Cinemas, Action Christine and Le Desperado, which show old films throughout the day for a reasonable price, and Le Brady around the corner from me is always showing David Lynch films and is also a gorgeous little art deco number. I went to see Paris, Texas there at the weekend, which I’ve never got around to seeing before. I’m glad I watched it at the cinema, and I’m glad I saved it until after becoming a father, because it touched me in a way no film has for ages. It’s incredible on the big screen, so expansive and, well, cinematic, and you can even see one of Harry Dean Stanton’s hairs on the lens after they shave his beard (that’s maybe taking realism a bit far).

Le Louxor on Boulevard Magenta is another gorgeous art deco building although it’s not an arthouse cinema as such, and finally Le Champo in the Latin Quarter is the one I really want to visit next. It was opened in 1938 replacing a bookshop and is of the – you’ve guessed it – art deco style, and its alternative name is Espace Jacques Tati. Recently it had an Ingmar Bergman season which I was very excited about until I remembered that I’d be watching Swedish films with French subtitles, which is a little taxing on the brain and one isn’t likely to enjoy Bergman’s full genius that way. But I will get in there and enjoy it at some point, and the likelihood is I’ll be sat somewhere that once entertained the derrieres of François Truffaut or Claude Chabrol. I’ll present the seat with a nouvelle bague.

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