When does the film actually start?

An odyssey across all of London's cinemas in one year

Tuesday, 2 February 2010

Going to the movies

The scene setter was meant to be so different. In the original script the central character - a careworn guy on the cusp of middle age - is sitting in the window seat cafe of the Curzon Soho, the spiritual home of cinema in central London.

Through the glass pane, thousands of commuters, tourists and denizens of the global city flit by.

The man looks at his watch and then the ticket booth. It’s too late to see the next movie and to early to go for a drink. He flicks through a copy of Time Out left on the seat next to him and his eyes scan through the listings, searching for something he hasn’t yet seen.

He turns the listings pages in frustration, and another page, and another. He pauses, he has had a thought. He goes slowly back through the magazine pages, his lips counting through the city’s cinema alphabet. His whispered abacus reaches a conclusion. We hear him say: “71”.

The man goes outside, looks up and down the length of a Shaftsbury Avenue packed with late January afternoon pedestrians and he deeply inhales the city air that makes him free.

As the rain starts falling he hails a cycle rickshaw,he stabs a finger at a page of the still open magazine and gesticulates to the driver.

He climbs aboard and the camera cranes upwards as it follows his meandering path along the street, beyond the neon signs lighting up the fading daylight. We feel we are at the beginning of a wonderful journey.

Life is not like the movies is it? Cut to reality.