It's a sad fact that the age of the local "fleapit" cinema is almost at an end. I am as much to blame for this as anyone - as soon as the nice new shiny Parrswood complex opened in Didsbury I turned my back on Withington's Cine City, ruthlessly ditching almost a hundred years of history in favour of a big bland monolith with comfy seats and an enticing range of Ben and Jerry's. And then Cine City closed and I felt bad.
But then last night, a chance to make some kind of reparation - and spend an evening with Colin Firth into the bargain. The Savoy in Heaton Moor has been under threat for the last few years, limping defiantly on in the face of its bigger, brasher neighbour, and all the more charming for it. My friend is a regular there, and takes a perverse kind of pleasure in the fact that she is sometimes the only one there, lounging in one of the surprisingly comfortable Honey Monster befurred chairs as the latest blockbuster plays exclusively for her on the medium silver screen.
This is how our conversation went on Wednesday afternoon.
Me: What time shall I pick you up, dear friend? I understand Oscar favourite The King's Speech starts at 8pm.
Misguided friend: Yes. Pick me up at 7.45 please.
Me: Won't there be a queue?
Me: Are you sure? Is this not the most viewed film in recent cinema history?
MF: Well, OK then, 7.40. But you're wrong. Nobody ever goes to The Savoy.
Hmmm, nobody that is except THE WHOLE OF HEATON MOOR. When we finally managed to park, approximately three miles away (MF: I think it is Brownies tonight as well), we pottered up the cinema at about five to eight to find a queue the length of the Great Wall of China, a line of assorted pensioners and well-heeled Heaton Moorites that could actually be seen from space. What could we do? We joined it, convinced that we would arrive at the counter to have the grille pulled down just as we got there (although, to be fair, Mr Liz was rather hoping this would happen - evening watching soppy "girl's" film vs drinking beer at £2.02 a pint in the Moor Top opposite = no contest in boyland.)
Of course it was all fine, although we did end up so near the back that both ladies had to physically lean forward and squint a little when required to read textual information on screen. The film itself probably requires little comment as you've more than likely seen it by now, so I will summarise my thoughts as briefly as I can:
- Colin Firth = marvellous, Oscar perhaps?
- Helena B-C = scarily convincing as Queen Mum, Oscar perhaps?
- Geoffrey Rush = touching, funny, Oscar perhaps?
- Plot = stirring, patriotic, moving (many surreptitious sniffles to be heard as lovely Colin reveals sad childhood) and funny - Colin says bum, tits AND willy *titters*
- Guy Pearce = normally lovely Antipodean in the one piece of bum (see Colin? I can do it too) casting - seriously miscast as rogue elder brother. No Oscar for you, Guy
- Cornetto = unavailable due to large queue
So after a fine night (the very best sort, where you have had a nice time but are in bed by 11) resolutions have been made to support The Savoy in all it does; and with tickets at just £4.80, there's plenty of money left to have a post-cinema drink at somewhere just a little more salubrious than the Moor Top...