Couch Potato’s Bafta night discovery

Earlier today, my Movie Talk colleague Jason described last night’s Baftas as a night of surprises. I couldn’t agree more, but for very different reasons.

Carey Mulligan

You see, while the industry darlings gathered in all their finery in Central London for the big British film awards gala, another film event was taking place in South London’s Crystal Palace, and that was where I experienced my astonishment yesterday evening.

As I’ve discussed before here on Movie Talk, the overriding majority of people who live in my South London community of Crystal Palace, and the near vicinity, share the dream of a local cinema and have been campaigning since July last year when I first started getting steamed up about it on this blog, (for the full picture, click here, then here, then  here, and then here – maybe this story will be a film itself one day).

Crystal Palace Cinema Campaign

So, despite the drizzly weather and the unsociable time of year, an impressive number of people gathered last night in Crystal Palace’s Grape and Grain pub for a quiz and Bafta sweepstake to raise funds for this ongoing cinema campaign.

Now, you’d imagine, wouldn’t you, that a room full of people sharing a common desire for a local cinema would be eager to discuss their Bafta predictions, and to chat about their favourite films from the past 12 months.


Well, no. They weren’t and they didn’t. That was what surprised me. After asking around, I discovered that most people had only seen one or two of the nominated films (in most cases Avatar, and maybe one other) and quite a few had seen none at all.

How could this be?

Well, Crystal Palace resident Sue explained it me to perfectly.

“I don’t have a favourite film because we don’t have a cinema. I haven’t been to the cinema for as long as I can remember, so please could we have a cinema so that I could answer the question.”

Of course! How could I be so stupid?  I write about movies all the time but even I’ve only seen a handful of those Bafta nominated movies. Why? Because I don’t have a local cinema either, and I tend to wait for them all to come out on DVD. So, how crazy of me to imagine that my neighbours wouldn’t do the same.

And that made me think. Who has seen all the movies getting the attention during awards season? How many of us can look at all those award nominees and make a personal judgement on who should win? Don’t most of us make our Bafta/Oscar predictions based on the predictions of industry experts?

Maybe I’m alone in feeling frustrated by this aspect of the film awards season. Let me know what you think.

Alice in Wonderland, Helena Bonham Carter

And that brings me onto last week’s musings about the forthcoming Alice in Wonderland movie by Movie Talk’s News Muse, where she imagined herself as the Queen of Hearts (aka Red Queen) dishing out her own cinema-going fantasy.

Well, if she can do it , so can I, and this is mine: if I were the Queen of Hearts, I’d say “off with their heads” of everyone who tries to stop communities from having their own local cinemas. Then I’d order every movie house to showcase every Bafta/Oscar nominated film for a month before awards season so that we could all check them out and talk to our neighbours about so much more than the weather.

What do you think of that?

That’s what I’d love to see in my Crystal Palace community, and hopefully it will happen. You see, I swiftly learned last night that while my fellow townsfolk may be ignorant about contemporary film, their movie knowledge is certainly not lacking.

The Pleasure Garden

As the quiz got underway, it rapidly became evident that I was surrounded by film lovers. While Quiz Meister Andrew’s local history rounds were fascinating (I feel compelled to read up about my neighbourhood now), you could almost see everyone’s inner film buff kick into action when Quiz Mistress Kat – looking as glamourous as any movie star – presented us with the movie knowledge rounds.

From comedy movies to gangster flicks, picture rounds to romances, the atmosphere heated up as we all tried to outdo our rivals with our knowledge, and this was particularly evident when one of the teams queried the answer to one of the questions.

We’d been asked to name the instrument played by a key character in a classic movie, but one team was certain that the answer provided at the end of the evening was incorrect. At that moment, during that difference of opinion, I witnessed a wonderful film geek passion fill the room. Everyone had something to say about the film in question, and one person even quoted a line from the movie to demonstrate her knowledge.

And so, on that note, I’m going to test your knowledge. Here’s the line:

“I have this thing about saxophone players, especially tenor sax… I don’t know what it is, they just curdle me. All they have to do is play eight bars of ‘Come to Me, My Melancholy Baby’ and my spine turns to custard.”

Can you name the film?

No? Well, here’s the answer.

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