In Praise of Grassroots Cinema

A look at the rise of community cinema schemes

After a hard day’s work, the first thing you wish to do is get home, crash in front of the sofa, and enjoy a takeaway. You then want to slump in front of the television, catch up on the soaps, or go to Netflix.

But doing so is a rather lonely existence. At least that’s how I see it. If watching television or films, there are certain programmes I prefer to watch on my own (documentaries) or family (the odd quiz show or other forms of lowbrow entertainment). Continue reading “In Praise of Grassroots Cinema”

Scare on a Shoestring: A Look at Threads

A gory picture of Sheffield before, during and after a nuclear attack

  • Starring: Reece Dinsdale, Karen Meagher;
  • Co-featuring: David Brierley, Rita May, Jane Hazlegrove;
  • Narrator: Paul Vaughan;
  • Companies: BBC/Nine Network/Western-World Television Inc.;
  • Transmitted: Sunday, 23 September 1984, BBC Two, 2130 hours;
  • Writer: Barry Hines;
  • Director and Producer: Mick Jackson.

WARNING: this piece may contain spoilers.

Britain in 1984 was hardly the best year for one’s formative years, mine included. Fellow children of the 1980s were affected by the rigours of high unemployment. There was also the Miners’ Strike; service cuts thanks to the introduction of rate capping. A certain Yorkshire group was kept off the top spot by a Liverpudlian group singing about the threat of nuclear war. The promotional video, produced by Godley and Creme, saw lookalikes of Ronald Reagan and Konstantin Chernenko slugging it out in a pit. Continue reading “Scare on a Shoestring: A Look at Threads”

Ashton Set to Live Life to the IMAX

Cineworld to add IMAX cinema screen to popular multiplex

Ten years ago, Ashton-under-Lyne saw its character oozing Metro Cinema on Old Street replaced by a multiplex cinema. Next month, Cineworld is set to celebrate its tenth anniversary on Ashton Moss with a new addition: one that is up to five storeys tall. Continue reading “Ashton Set to Live Life to the IMAX”

Comedy Sketches and Moments Every Child Should Know

Going beyond ‘Why did the chicken cross the road’

A certain philistine education minister may greet me with unpleasantries for suggesting a certain amount of sketches that every child should learn prior to leaving school. With fewer families sitting around a television set in front of the same programmes, the shared experience is diminished. Continue reading “Comedy Sketches and Moments Every Child Should Know”

Cameras on Camera: Cameo Appearances by Film Cameras on Television and Film

Sightings of analogue photography instruments in music videos, television programmes and in films

*** Warning: This Entry May Contains Spoilers! ***

I blame Boy George. Honestly. Well, not wholly, there are two sources of inspiration behind this bit of anorakdom. One is the music video to Culture Club’s Church of the Poison Mind. The other is an episode of End of Part One from its second series. At the end of one episode, comedy actor extraordinaire Sue Holderness is doing a spoof weather continuity spot. Instead of the usual reference to the views, the kind of film and cameras used were mentioned. Kudos to Andrew Marshall and David Renwick for inserting ‘Ektachrome’ into a comedy script! Continue reading “Cameras on Camera: Cameo Appearances by Film Cameras on Television and Film”

Like Crushing The Great Pyramids For Posh Hotels: Could the ConDems Close The World’s Oldest Railway Station?

A Cuts Scene Investigation Special: National Railway Museum, National Media Museum and Manchester Museum of Science and Industry to face closure or admission charges

Replica of Stephenson’s Rocket, outside the National Railway Museum, York. Photograph by Howard Longden (Creative Commons Attribution License-Some Rights Reserved)

The year is 2035. Manchester is connected to its recently opened High Speed Two line, which whisks Mancunians to the present day capital of the United Kingdom. It is possible to get a hourly HS2 service to London which takes 70 minutes. Elsewhere in the Greater Manchester City Region, it takes a similar amount of time to travel from Stockport to Ashton-under-Lyne by bus in the peaks on the 330 route. Continue reading “Like Crushing The Great Pyramids For Posh Hotels: Could the ConDems Close The World’s Oldest Railway Station?”

Film Review: The Spirit of ’45

East of the M60 what is on probably one of the most important film releases of 2013

  • Dogwoof Productions/Film 4/Channel Four Corporation (94 minutes, Black and White/Colour, ‘U’ certificate);
  • Directed by Ken Loach.

Squalor, Ignorance, Want, Idleness, Disease: five words which the Liberal Lord Beveridge wanted to eradicate forever after the extreme poverty leading up to World War Two. Today, the party which his successors are in, are colluding with the Conservatives to revive Beveridge’s Five Giant Evils. ‘Squalor’ could refer to the inadequate accommodation people may be force to endure to avert the Bedroom Tax; ‘Ignorance’ could be expressed by the dominance of a Tory sycophantic press. Continue reading “Film Review: The Spirit of ’45”

Rewind and Return Before 2013: Farewell to the Video Shop

East of the M60’s rewind to the glory days of video hire shops

Thirty years ago, the home video recorder was our answer to the iPad or smartphone. It was an object of desire, but this very object of desire would cost about £500. Prerecorded cassettes were around £20 – £25, with recordable tapes slightly cheaper. It is hard to imagine how in 1983 a VHS cassette would cost the same as a 16Gb Secure Digital memory card would now. Today’s camcorders also take them – a far cry from the colossal things which took full size VHS tapes. Continue reading “Rewind and Return Before 2013: Farewell to the Video Shop”

Rififi Closure: A Case for Reopening the Palace as a Community Cinema?

With the party more or less over for Stalybridge’s nightlife, is the case for reopening the Palace building as a cinema greater than ever?

“My chances of seeing Terminator 3, are moving away from me, As the cinema, 20 minutes away, could be closing any day.

“A night club is proposed, The town has its fair share, clubs and pubs everywhere. Alternatives will be needed: arts centres, amateur theatres, town centre cinemas…

“Town centre cinemas, are more inclusive, the multiplexes are more exclusive. The former are more accessible, the latter caters for motor vehicles, And the price of popcornʼs unbelievable. The architectureʼs wholly diabolical.

“Theyʼre just sheds, although theyʼre popular, though some exceptions…”

The Last Picture Show (Stuart Vallantine, 27 July 2003)

The Palace Cinema building in Stalybridge is set to celebrate its centenary in style. It has in the last decade been known as Rififi and Amber Lounge. Instead of celebrating its decade as a night club, or centenary as a building, it is going to see in 2013 in the same way as The Pineapple, H2O and Bar Liquid. Continue reading “Rififi Closure: A Case for Reopening the Palace as a Community Cinema?”

Tameside on Television

How our borough became a popular location for film and television

Tower Mill, Dukinfield
Tower Mill, Dukinfield: once the base of Lyme Electronics in the BBC drama 'Making Out' (1989 - 1991).

Though closer to Hollinwood rather than Hollywood (in Birmingham as well as in America), Tameside has over the last 50 years been a popular filming location. From Billy Liar to Scott and Bailey, it could claim to be the Northern equivalent to Elstree or Shepperton. Continue reading “Tameside on Television”