London's Best Underground Cinemas


Written by Kate Kelsall
27 Monday 27th February 2012

Just to reiterate, why would you endure sticky floors, extortionately priced popcorn and rowdy teenagers heckling and macking down directly in your line of vision when you can stream movies from the comfort of your sofa or bed? Classic first date territory, if you want to impress someone and/or get laid, then the above is perhaps less likely to make an impression than say a dress up sing-a-long Rocky Horror session or a pool side film screening.

For the usual programme of timeless offbeat classics – Forest Gump, Back to the Future and Reservoir Dogs - in a stripped back and industrial space, The Rooftop Cinema brings you Films at the Yard (29th of February-25th March). With just 110 seats these screening will be intimate affairs, with food and booze on sale throughout and giving way to post movie boogies on the minimalistic dance floor.

For real film buffs, check out Passenger Films, a new enterprise launching on March 14th, aiming to tie screenings with drinks, think tanks, speakers, discussions and film themed music. Topics are relatively high brow and academic with a dash of tongue in cheek frivolity. For example on April 6thEverything You Wanted To Know About Zombies But Were Afraid to Ask Daniel Defoe’ fuses clips from contemporary zombie flicks with performances and discussions of the Robinson Crusoe author’s Journal of the Plague Year (1722) and Alexandro Manzoni’s The Betrothed (1827). Plus it is free and bring your own booze - bargain.

Leading the alternative cinema game for a long time are the brains behind The Secret Cinema and Future Cinema. With the Secret Cinema, no longer so covert, its sister concept Future Cinema specializes in making sure guests feel and experience the movie they are watching through interactive media and live performance; their nights are adhoc, magical and thoroughly immersive. Their latest venture, and one to watch, is the Other Cinema which launched on Valentine’s Day and aims to become a monthly fixture and worldwide screening network. The idea is that anyone and everyone can stage their own cinema in eccentric and interesting venues with their backing and support.

Kicking off proceedings for the Valentines Day event was Brief Encounter, one of the most heartbreaking and affecting romantic films in movie history. As has always been the case with these guys, the Other Cinema will select cult titles,which they consider to be both 'vital' expressions of popular culture and aesthetically compelling.  The monthly night will see a film being simultaneously screened across different nations and venues. Previous projects have aimed to reinscribe the cinematic experience with that glamour and excitement that somehow got lost along the way. This time around, The Other Cinema as a global network,is working on injecting community spirit and sociability back into a visit to the pictures.

I don’t know about you, but this weekend’s weather has got thoughts of balmy summer evenings on my mind, and London normally pitches up with a plethora of madcap open air screenings to choose from. Highlights of last summer included two temporary pop-ups both located in oft home of the unusual Hackney: Folly for a Flyover, a six week programme of canal side films nestled under a motorway and Films on Fridges - bizarrely enough, a cinema constructed from disused fridges. Keep your ears to the ground for fixtures this summer as tickets seem to sell out way in advance. It seems the calibre of guy considerate enough to take his date to such an event is also borderline freakish when it comes to planning in advance. 

 The Lexi’s pop-up mobile cinema ‘The Nomad’ is touring the country for a 52 week spell visiting a madly variant collection including pretty much any type of venue you care to name from castles and country houses to parks and swimming pools, showing cult classics and everybody’s favourites.

Finally if you are feeling refined and fancy a touch of pure luxury head to The Aubin in Shoreditch to sit on velvet thrones, quaff cocktails and nibble on wasabi peas, honeycomb or stilton and walnut organic cookies.

There is something irresistibly arty and delicious about short film and it is also handy for those with deviant attention spans. This May Short and Sweet will be serving up a programme of the genre's best at The Roxy on everyone's least favourite day of the week. The selection has been chosen from a broad range of the old and the new, the established and the avant garde including animation and music videos.

Miraculously still competing with all the new kids on the block is long-established Prince Charles Cinema on Leicester Square. Light hearted and fun, where some pop-ups take themselves rather seriously, upcoming events include a Big Lebowski Quote-Along (11th March), Sing-a-Long Rocky Horror (March 30th), Labyrinth Masquerade Ball and Silent Movies with live accompaniment season (29th March-28th June), At their Sunday afternoon ‘Breakfast Club’ you can recover from Saturday night with free tea and coffee plus cheap egg and bacon sarnies in front of classic teen movies. Now there's a reason to get off your sofa.

Share your favourite cinematic spots and movie moments!

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  • Guest: iamant
    Wed 29 - Feb - 2012, 16:55
    Damn straight Iamgod. You tell those frickin douches
  • Guest: iamgod
    Wed 29 - Feb - 2012, 16:53
    Typical Dont Panic. Lazy and out of date journalism. Which 14 year old monkey wrote this one for free? Odean now have a lounge concept with interactive tables and waiter service ranging to a 3 course meal.
  • Guest: dev2000
    Wed 29 - Feb - 2012, 01:11
    What about Looks really good!