What a piece of work is a man!
‘The Vault’ is an excellent name for this Underground Film Club venue. In manner of trying to break into a high-security war bunker, embassy or similar, we navigated through many unmarked doors, circled the block a few times and finally penetrated the depths of the elusive joint. Down the tunnel lit with blue and pink floor lights we went, shivering, hungry and late. Underground indeed!
You may have noticed that it’s sobbing with rain at the moment, so the crowd at the Withnail & I special screening, courtesy of Underground Film Club (spin-off from the excellent summer Rooftop Film Club) were like a bunch of sodden rats squeezed into tiny wooden chairs. It was impossible to be totally comfortable in such a situation, but nevertheless the ‘underground’ atmosphere certainly prevailed, with the burrow-like layout of the place and brick arches everywhere to duck through.
Upon arrival, we were greeted with a charismatic, fairy light-adorned bar, luckily offering pint-sized cocktails (instant cold remedy). To its side was a food bar where wearisome travellers could purchase hot dogs, nachos and popcorn. Up the treehouse-like stairs we went to grab our headphones and into the cave-of-a screening room.
I can’t say I’m a fan of watching a film with isolated audio, and especially not this classic British black comedy set in 60s London. Many of the nuanced sounds that perfectly kiss the comedy were lost, and what we were left with was a very crisp, singular track. Of course, ‘flowers are essentially tarts; prostitutes for the bees’, and ‘Monty you terrible C***!’ etc still drew the predictable laughs – it’s impossible not to enjoy the pitch-perfect script, no matter the circumstances – but Bruce Robinson’s cult kitchen-sink classic is not a film best enjoyed, I think, in a cinema. Or at least not a cramped underground one where everyone is listening through headphones and therefore feel it’s acceptable to laugh as loudly as they like.
The experience was certainly novel, the cocktails yummy and the higgeldy-piggledy layout of the Vault enjoyable, if not a little tiresome to navigate. Great for a unique night out with your mates – but not necessarily a cosy, relaxing one.