Wednesday, 25 June 2014

An Evening at The Phoenix.

On a pleasantly warm Monday evening I made my way up to the glorious Phoenix cinema in East Finchley for a fundraising screening of Michael Haneke's Amour, in support of Tavistock Clinic Foundation. Before the film began Amour was expertly introduced by Phoenix patron Mark Kermode, then following the visceral screening there was a captivating panel discussion with film theorist Laura Mulvey and psychoanalyst Margot Waddell, combined with a strongly emotive Q&A session with the audience. 
Prior to this I was extremely privileged to be shown round the Phoenix's stunning and awe-inspiring auditorium by none other than Mark Kermode himself, who cheerily recalled frequently attending late night double bill screenings in his beloved childhood cinema, which started at 11pm and didn't finish until the small of hours of 2.30am. Alongside the vast length of auditorium's walls are most the elegant and exquisite murals, Mark preceded to explain that these wondrous murals had adorned the walls ever since the Phoenix's initial opening in 1910. 

The audience were treated to a skilfully projected 35mm print of Amour, which is sadly a rare experience in this digitally modern era. Amour was painful, heart-breaking, as well as almost unbearable at times and yet counter balanced with well placed humour and the flawless depiction of an elderly couple's devotion and enduring love for one another. Many a tear was shed that evening including my own, as personal memories of my wonderful and sorely missed grandparents flooded to the forefront of my conciousness. Silence fell upon the audience as the credits finally rolled over the screen, the atmosphere was deafeningly sombre and reflective. After a few minutes Laura, Mark and Margot tentatively made their way up to the stage, still obviously deep in thought after Amour's overwhelmingly powerful conclusion. 

Mulvey and Waddell then proceeded to each take turns in eloquently expressing their detailed analysis of Amour, picking out key scenes/themes and scrutinising the elements which made Amour so arduously evocative. Audience members had conflicting views on Haneke's film with one lady being particularly angered and stated that more should be done to raise awareness of the increasing difficulties that the elderly face when a partner enters into a permanent senile state. The conversation and observations may well have lasted all night had it not been for constrained timings, due to the depth and nature of this affective topic. It was certainly a emotionally engrossing night for all those concerned, with lots of money being raised for a very important and worth while cause. Finally I urge anyone who hasn't been to the Phoenix cinema to absolutely pay a visit, because in the words of the good doctor himself 'it's the most beautiful cinema in the UK' and I whole heartedly agree.

1 comment

  1. lovely film. and kudos for cheering on cinema halls. dying breed.


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