Cinema as a concept is evolving. With hundreds, even thousands of films available at the click of a button, now, with Netflix and the like, it simply has to. Many people no longer want to spend money on full priced cinema tickets in your bog standard Odeon, and I don't blame them. There are loads of far better ways to watch films, I discovered one a couple of weeks ago. Watching Mrs Doubtfire, sat on top of Bussey building in Peckham, in a deckchair sipping a cocktail, was one of them.
This evening was my third trip ever to Peckham, and I must admit I think it's a funny place. It's a mish mash of old and new, and in some parts is really quite unsightly, but for the Rooftop Film Club I would go again. I recently learnt that the company has four locations, spread across London. As well as this one there is Roof East, ontop of Stratford multi-story car park, Queen of Hoxton in Shoreditch, The Roof Gardens in Kensington (wow!), and the Tobacco Dock in Shadwell. There are films showing all the time, and they don't play it safe and stick to one genre, it's a real mixed bunch. Bussey building is just a couple of minutes from Peckham Rye train station, and the cinema is right at the top of the building, up several flights of stairs. You know when you approach the right landing because you can hear the buzz from the rooftop bar, and food area. We arrived at about 9pm so the event was in full swing. The food stall, Forza Win, was doing a roaring trade, serving up excellent food, including thin strips of tender steak in a cheeky sandwich. Apparently Roof East in Stratford is the place to go for 'london's best street food' and that's the next location that i'll be checking out (I'll keep you posted on Huffington Post). Another thing to look out for at Roof East is 'Dance Week' in the last week of August, when there will be 'no-pressure' dance classes prior to screenings of Dirty Dancing, Billy Elliot, and Magic Mike. Cool-huh?
Back to Bussey. As well as the food, there was also a well-stocked bar and three talented barmen, juggling bottles and putting on a show. Cocktails were around £8 each, so certainly no more expensive than a London bar, but with a much, much better view. On that note, next month Rooftop Film Club are doing a screening of 'The Big Short' (a quirky Hollywood retelling of the 2007/8 financial crisis) which will be accompanied by a bar where drinks are priced based in a stock-exchange system.
Though Rooftop Film Club have several venues across London, to date i've only visited the Peckam one (reviews on the other venues may follow). Peckham is just a stones throw from when I live, and suited me fine. It's all pretty surreal, watching the sun set from way up there on Bussey building. The noisy, bustling street below seems far away, and you can really relax. Luckily on the evening that I went the weather was good, I guess rain would put a damper on things (excuse the pun), but perhaps not, I didn't think to ask. From the rooftop you can see Frank's bar, which also looked impressively busy. Admittedly it was a Friday night, so most bars are busy, but I think this rooftop scene is onto something. What's not appealing about seeing that London skyline with a drink in hand?
This was my first experience of a rooftop cinema, and I was really, very impressed. Everything had been thought of carefully. Nespresso had supplied snuggly blankets to keep the chill at bay, the cocktails were to die for, and there was freshly cooked food as well as a popcorn stand. The film itself was screened via a large projector, and once the sunlight had faded (it took quite a while) the visual quality was decent. The audio aspect worked well, via speakers on the walls lining the seated area. A bar man told me that they used to give people headphones, but they stopped doing that because the electricity/telephone pylons kept interfering with the headsets and screeching. Though I had never watched the film with headphones myself, to me the speakers seem like a convenient and perfectly satisfactory replacement.
The atmosphere throughout the movie was nice and relaxed, and as for the movie, well it spoke for itself. Its a heartwarming classic, which always turns on the waterworks. I found it particularly emotional viewing, as I was particularly conscious that it was the first time I had seen the film since Robin Williams, a sterling actor and all-round fantastic human, passed away. Nevertheless we sipped, munched, laughed, and sobbed in his honour, to the 90's classic, and as the sky turned from blue, to pinky pastel colours, Rooftop Film Club charmed us all....
Forget adverts, spilt popcorn, sticky floors, and crying children (sorry kids). This is how to really enjoy a movie.