Friday evening, August 1st around 6:45pm, our Visual/Viral group headed out to the viewing of Quentin Tarantino’s “Pulp Fiction” at the Roxy Bar & Screen. Experiencing a film is an enormous part of both the American and British cultures. Cinematography registers concepts, emotion and dilemma through interpretive visuals that open our eyes and challenge our beliefs. However, half of the experience of spectating a film is dependent on the audience member’s exposure to their surroundings. The people you are with, the lighting, the sound, the ambiance of the room, the food or drink, the detachment or engagement of the audience as a whole and in groups, all play key roles in the digestion of a film. Movie theatre’s undertake an enormous responsibility for all of those elements, aspiring to provide an optimum movie-going experience for everyone in the building.
However, as we all know and have experienced before, not all theatre experiences are pleasant. Whether it’s the boisterous fraternity brothers sitting directly behind you or the passionate couple to your right, traditional theatre experiences can be irksome. American movie theatre traditions aren’t exactly glamorous either; we pay an arm and a leg to sit in an itchy, unpleasant seat only to engorge our bodies with 1,000 calorie nachos, Cheetos, popcorn, candy and a large Sprite. People rarely associate with anyone outside their group, and the "post-movie discussion" typically takes place on the sleepy drive home.
The same is not to be said for the Roxy Bar & Screen. Our visit to this theatre was by far my favorite CineTREK to date. Could it have something to do with the fact that “Pulp Fiction” is one of my favorite movies of all time? Perhaps. But enjoying a movie in such a social and sophisticated setting was a magical experience. Before the movie began everyone was buzzing around, enjoying a beer and socializing; something that I've found to be typical of British culture. The bar was big, extending along the main wall which eventually lead to the theatre. The walls featured a small collection of local art and photography, giving the place a stylish touch. There were all kinds of people there ranging in age and style listening to the selection of electric music that was playing throughout the building. The theatre itself resided in a moderately sized room behind the bar with a curtain to separate the rooms. There were big couches and chairs with tables and barstools making the theatre feel far more like a cool, intimate lounge than a big, cold, impersonal stadium with symmetrical rows and an enormous screen. Being able to enjoy a Guinness as well (alright, two Guinness's...) made the movie experience feel like a nightlife event. Everyone was drinking, laughing and responding to the movie together, making a room of random strangers coexist. Finally, as the movie concluded, people in the theatre stood around and talked about the what they thought of the film. Some went to the bar to order another drink, then continued engaging one another and sharing responses. This is something I have never experienced in America. Not only were the tickets an alarmingly low price of £4 a piece, but the Roxy created a place where audience members were meant to watch the film as means to discussion, critique and debate. This institution has a vision of taking movie watching a step further, transforming a single isolated event into a series of social interactions and collaborations of random civilians and cinema-lovers alike.