Yes, it is safe to return to Richmond’s charming Station Cinema and yes, it was just as fun and fulfilling as the last time, in the fag end of 2020 when the world briefly looked as though it would open up.
Let’s hope on this occasion it is more prolonged and that we are finally getting back to something approaching normality.
The Station Cinema’s Unlocked Film Festival, which runs until May 30, contains a selection of movies with a nod to almost every film fan. There is British drama in the form of ‘Rocks,’ a movie about two Koreans switching to a farm in rural America in ‘Minari,’ a love story ‘Martin Eden’ and the BAFTA-winning ‘Dear Comrades,’ a film which depicts the massacre of striking workers in 1960s Soviet Union. There is even an update of Victor Hugo’s classic ‘Les Miserables,’ set in the aftermath of France’s 2018 World Cup victory.
But we chose to opt for the movie which was garlanded at this year’s virtual Oscars ceremony, Frances McDormand’s ‘Nomadland.’ First, the movie, then the surroundings.
If you have a teenage son, don’t even think about it. Arnie and Sly armed with bazookas this isn’t. In fact, the action parts are pretty much nil, unless you are into wheel-changing, or Fern (McDormand) sitting on her home-made plastic loo, with unpleasant noise effects added.
Fern is recovering from the death of her husband by doing what thousands of Americans currently do, roaming the mid-west roads in an improvised RV, in the search for hope and happiness. Fern rejects conventional life and the attentions of a dusky suitor, to go a-wandering. She is not without pleasant points, but mainly you see Fern struggling to come to terms with life and all it throws at her. It is not an upbeat movie, but one which is unquestionably thought-provoking, delving as it does into the heart of the American soul. McDormand’s performance marks her out as the finest of her generation, as she rails against capitalism, despite working at an Amazon depot.
It is not a film we would watch again, as pretty much nothing of note actually happens. But it is a gentle reminder that not all movies have to be swashbuckling car chases, complete with volcanic eruptions. If you like your silver screen a little tender and touching, you’ll enjoy it, but don’t expect to be blasted away by a byzantine plot. I’d say 8 out of 10, not a natural Oscar-winning movie, but McDormand makes it all worthwhile.
Now for the cinema. It’s a reminder of just why so many Richmondshire residents, and beyond, choose this venue for their film fix. Staff are unfailingly polite and helpful, the cost is only £6 per adult (less if you are a member) and the Station itself is splendid. We think the new-ish bar and restaurant area are a vast improvement on their predecessor and the art gallery from local amateurs well worth a perusal.
The main two cinemas are big enough to feel like an event, but small enough to be cosy. Seats are buckets, with plenty of legroom and the ushers couldn’t be more helpful.
Two observations – it’s a shame the Station doesn’t attract a later crowd as by 9pm it is all but empty. Secondly, and this is a personal Victor Meldrew moment. When queuing for tickets you often have to wait an age for the obligatory ice cream even if you have already booked, as there is only one queue. Why not have one for tickets, the other for the rum and raisin?*
That aside, it is a fantastic experience and one which never fails to lift the spirits. And whether you’re a nomad or a home owner, we all need that right now.
*The Station Cinema has pointed out that this system is in place for social distancing reasons and it can only operate one till at present to meet the current regulations.