The late Scala Cinema at King’s Cross, now a nightclub, is infamous for having shown 'A Clockwork Orange' in the early 1990s, when the film was still banned in the UK. After being sued by Warner Bros, the arthouse theatre was effectively bankrupted and London lost a fine venue for alternative cinema.
Though the Scala itself hasn’t been resurrected, its spirit has been summoned again via the medium of Scala Forever, a seven-week season of classic film, zombie horror, Asian action films and more than a few bouncing bosoms. The showings are a celebration of the unusual and often underground film that the cinema once showed, now reproduced in the laid-back surroundings of the Roxy Bar & Screen, just south of London Bridge.
The Roxy has been called “the best entertainment venue in south London” and, while such an appellation is bound to be subjective, it’s certainly a fine cinema experience. Watching films in the Roxy is more akin to a pleasant night at a friend’s place, if you imagine that your friend has a living room ten meters deep and with room for around a hundred. And charges you for dinner.
Its sofas are generously squishy and its tables comfortable. While the temptation may exist to rack up the price of food to compensate for the cheap entry price (£6 for last weekend’s double bill, two films for less than I’d usually see one for), the grub is the same price as it would be in any other pub or bar.
Last weekend, I was lucky enough to catch a double-lives double bill, featuring Martin Scorsese’s underrated (and rather out of character) comedy 'After Hours' and the very rare 'Seconds', by John Frankenheimer (famous for 'Ronin' and 'The Manchurian Candidate', and shame on you if you watched the remake). The pairing was introduced by film critic Danny Leigh, who was happy to stay on and chat to visitors during the break.
I understand that the plan is for Tilda Swinton to introduce a September showing of the classic war drama 'The Life' and 'Death Of Colonel Blimp', and that is just one of the many highlights of the season. Other forthcoming Scala Forever showings include a western double-bill of 'The Great Silence' and the excellent 'Once Upon A Time In The West', a Russ Meyer night and an opportunity to see 'Aguirre: The Wrath Of God' on the big screen, something that really should not be missed.
Scala Forever is a great opportunity to see arthouse and alternative cinema in a friendlier and more relaxing setting, as well as a reminder that a cinema experience doesn’t have to be all about stiff seating and overpriced food.
Head to scalaforever.co.uk and roxybarandscreen.com for more details on the rest of the season.