On a hot August day, we went to Green Park. But, squandering the sunshine, we ignored the grass and went to the famous Curzon Mayfair cinema instead. Needless to say, it was a quiet afternoon, but a pleasant experience nonetheless.
I was a little embarrassed to admit I had never been to the Curzon (http://www.curzoncinemas.com/cinemas/mayfair/). One of the UK’s oldest independent cinemas, it has long been considered a place to go for art-house film lovers and regularly features on recommended lists of things to do in London. Wonderfully preserved in all its 1960s glory (it first opened in 1934 but was rebuilt in 1966), the building is now Grade II listed. It has one large, 530 seat, 43×20 ft screen and one much smaller room. So small, in fact, I’d bet a few of the swankier Mayfair houses include comparable private screening rooms. But it was perfectly comfortable and suited to the kinds of films on offer. Bearing this in mind, our tickets felt rather pricey at £14.50 but, depending on age, day of the week and membership, you can visit the Curzon for as little as £4.25 or as much as £100 if you fancy sitting in the royal box!
We watched Mood Indigo, Michel Gondry’s latest. Surreal at best, unexpectedly boring at worst, the audience did not seem to enjoy it. Visually inventive and off the wall, the storyline and characterisation fell flat. Colin fell asleep, while another viewer said he wished he had as well, to save himself from watching the entire film.
It’s worth saying something more generally about the Curzon group in this blog. They have been caught up (out?) in recent campaigns for the living wage and an end to zero hours contracts http://rs21.org.uk/2014/05/10/behind-the-screens-an-interview-with-two-curzon-cinema-workers/ Although the Wingate family, who bought the cinema in 1940, are still shareholders, the company’s continued expansion is now funded by a new private shareholder, a British Virgin Islands investment company. (if you’re interested in who owns your local cinema, you might find an answer here: http://www.denofgeek.com/movies/cinema-chains/31378/who-owns-britain-s-cinema-chains).
Whatever the ownership, the Curzon’s growth strategy is particularly interesting. They are expanding the number of traditional cinemas they own (8 at the time of writing), but are also developing unusual franchise partnerships to reach new filmgoers. A new screen has opened in HMV Wimbledon, you can go along to a weekend screening at Pinewood Studios, or join a community arts centre screenings in Ivybridge, Crawley and Banchory. I might not rush back to Mayfair, but look forward to visiting another Curzon location soon.
How comfy were the seats? 6/10
How good were the snacks? 8/10
How nice were the staff? 7/10
How sticky were the floors? 7/10
How great was the ambience? 8/10
How much did we like the film? 8/10