Apparently The Richmond Filmhouse is about to officially stop being 'The Richmond Filmhouse' and is about to officially start being the monstrously less-interesting 'Curzon Richmond'. Aside from the fact that this means it's no longer clear from the name what the Hell the place actually is, it marks the sad passing of an almost long-forgotten era of my now long-dead youth that spanned from about 2001-2004.
A close personal friend had alerted me to the Filmhouse's Sunday matinees which would be £5 for a double-bill of films (usually linked in some way) from any era or genre or country you could imagine. Across the next few years I went almost every week, seeing some of my favourite films in the actual *cinema* for the first time (Blue Velvet, Raiders of the Lost Ark) and being introduced to things I'd have never otherwise heard of. For a brief time we were friends with the manager who would come down and introduce each film with trivia and analysis (before he left to do a law degree which has a whole other story attached to it that shan't be retold). They were good times, and they also marked the start of my (baffling, to my friends) habit of going to the cinema on my own, something I've done as recently as seeing Quantum of Solace the other week. I don't care what you think.
Looking back on some of the films I saw almost reads like a list of some of the most interesting independent, foreign and classic films of all time- Rushmore, Storytelling, Happiness, Bande á Parte, Nueva Reinas, Lola Rennt, Memento, The Long Good Friday, The Lady Vanishes and you've not known squirming, stewing-in-your-body-heat fear until you've seen Don't Look Now on the big screen.
The last time I went was on Easter Sunday 2004, where I went to see Spirited Away (which was being shown as part of a children's double-bill with School of Rock which I decided to forgo). I was disappointed when it started and I realised it was the dubbed version, but sat through to the very end as the curtain closed, walked out of the cinema, walked twenty feet down the road and burst into tears.
The one-year BFI membership my sister gave me as a Christmas present last year has gone woefully underused, my having only made the trip down there once to see Akira, my favourite film of all-time, ever. My cinema of champions these days for new films tends to be the Feltham Cineworld if not the Rotunda's Odeon. It's not quite the same though, when I knew the staff at the Filmhouse and would always have a bag of Wine Gums and sit in the same place.
Ah, well. As deals go, it's not a massive one.