Day 10 of 80 — Cinema

Around London in 80 days

In these uncertain times, I need a lifeline and a horizon so I have — somewhat arbitrarily I’ll admit — set a date. April 1st will be my horizon ; my lifeline will be the 80 days separating me from it.

And as I cannot go around the world right now, I give you A Mad Belgian’s “Around London in 80 Days” : eighty impressions of London, eighty stories, places, thoughts from my experience of this wonderfully mad and maddening city.

Day 10 : Cinema

The British Film Institute is to London what the Cinematek is to Brussels : a haven for film-lovers. And TV-lovers.

Situated on the Southbank, between the Royal Festival Hall and the National Theatre, it boasts 3 screens (and reasonable ticket prices), 2 restaurants, a café, a shop and free of charge research facilities for anyone interested in the world of film & TV. Who could ask for anything more ?

Far from being a film buff myself, I always feel a little bit like an impostor in there, but nobody seems to notice so I go anyway.

As often, it all started with the bar : I immediately fell in love with its comfy chairs and hidden corners (the food is very nice, too) so it became my go-to hideout whenever I needed a coffee break in the area.

Then I started having a closer look at the film selection and little by little, I became a regular. They show a mix of new releases and old classics, with the occasional obscure chef-d’oeuvre, enabling me to brush up on my film culture in company (it’s always more fun watching a film with an audience), and to deepen my understanding of British culture.

After all, I first got interested in the UK because of Monty Python, and greatly improved my English through binge-watching Yes, Minister. Well the BFI I took me a step further by enabling me to re-watch some of the best Laurel & Hardy films just before the release of the biopic Stan & Ollie ; by introducing me to TV archives gems such as At Last the 1948 Show, featuring Graham Chapman and John Cleese before the advent of Monty Python ; and by providing a Yes, Minister showing & interview for the show’s 40th anniversary in 2020.

Something to do when you’re next in town : check the BFI Southbank.

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