Thursday, November 22, 2007

Cinema Paradiso - Welcome to The Rex

I wrote recently about stepping back in time and revisiting some of the nostalgic things from my past. You can also throw into that a visit to the finest cinema in the country. The Rex was during my youth a typical flea pit cinema but one that was housed in the most amazing of art deco surroundings. I saw Tron, The Empire Strikes Back and Back To The Future there as well as dozens of other mixed movies. Each time I loved the experience, the posters, the lousy ads for popcorn and Kiora not to mention the time during The Fox & The Hound when I found a tenner on the floor!

Then like a lot of things in the 1980s it closed down. Not enough interest, a decline in good movies and too many out of town distractions driving punters to the 10 screen bohemeths sprouting up all around the place.

And so it sat in decay at the end of Berkhamsted High Street - a rather awkward looking reminder of past former glories. And then some good hearted, not to mention patient, people set about changing that.

As a result, last night, Nina and I went back to The Rex. The fact that we had to sit apart tells you enough about how hard tickets are to get but all the same we really enjoyed Michael Clayton (one of those rare movies that gets better the longer it goes on) and the experience that is
The Rex.

Put frankly, if you are tired of the popcorn, nacho eating experience that is your local rip off UCI-Odeon then make a date for The Rex. As you walk in you pass one of the original projectors and fall into the very warm and cosy foyer that houses sofas and a handsome library of movie literature. Grab yourself a beer (shock horror!) or even a wine and then step into the main theater which has been fantastically restored to it's former glory. The deep red, velvet look from the 80's has returned as has the balcony creating a feel that quite literally welcomes you in.

James, the proprietor traditionally ambles on stage, part confused, part excited by the whole scene and introduces not only the movie but personally welcomes you into the world of The Rex. There are birthday call outs for loyal patrons, a review of upcoming features and a sly dig at the appalling weather outside. It's the sort of thing that might normally grate our traditional British reserve but you find that you have already given yourself into the charm so it is pointless fighting it. You can do nothing but go with the flow.

The Rex is what we need more of these days. A nod to the past but one that still takes care to encapsulate what is good about the present. I warn you it is not easy (oh the demand!) but try booking a ticket here. You simply won't regret it.

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