The Astor Cinema must have been beautiful in her day. She's a little worn now, but by no means tired. The art deco, thoughtful lighting and festooned staff make for a photo opportunity at every turn - and lets not forget the theatre's cat. Like the other members of staff, Marzipan looks the part and completely at home lounging on the couches of the mezinine.
The foyer of the cinema smells of freshly buttered pop-corn. We each paid our $9 to a woman safely behind the ticket-booth glass panel. She looked as if she had been transported directly from a library in 1954. No computerisation here, instead the ticket pulled from a wooden box and torn at the perforations with "Admit One" on a lime ice-cream coloured paper.
Walking up the stairs to the mezzanine - its huge oval cut out overlooking the foyer below - now I felt we were being transported back in time. Walking the curve of the oval with the confection counter coming into view, my Lomo LC-A+ camera was nagging at me from inside my bag (being crushed by three purchases from the comic book store an hour earlier) telling me this was why it had been made. Everywhere in the Astor is a photograph: the ticket booth woman, the stairs, the oval overlooking the foyer and now the confectionary counter and it's red vested attendant. Alas: because of the lack of a flash and any dose of gumption on my behalf, I do not have my own photos to share.
The mixture of low lighting made the confectionary counter glow under its bright lamps - no need for signs or specials, the island of light that bathed the counter made the idea of purchasing a snack to eat in the cinema the only thing on anyone's mind.
Snacks purchased, my tiny ticket was duly torn in half by the usher and we made our way onto the circle to decide our seating. The seats were black and well worn - and I mean just that - not worn away but polished by many years of happy cinema-going bottoms.
Again, as with the popcorn smells downstairs, I noticed a very familar one inside the theatre. It smelled like the beach on a summer evening. As if there was a fire of driftwood and salt in the distance. It's so very unfamiliar in the setting of a cinema but completely comforting in my memory. And completely perfect for the movie session we were about to experience.
What a night of firsts this was for me: my first visit to the iconic Melbourne cinema and my first viewing of Grindhouse - the double-feature tribute to B-movies by Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez.
I loved almost all of it - being a mighty zombie-movie fan, I really enjoyed Planet Terror. Gawd but Rose McGowan is sexy as hell - her lipstick never out of place even when everything else is. I found Deathproof slow during the long dialogue scenes - I thought maybe if they'd managed to lose one of those reels no one would really mind. My love for Kurt Russell exploded ten-fold - he was just amazingly fabulous.
The movie trailers and adverts before each feature were art in themselves. Especially Machete which endeared itself especially with the line that heads the title of this blog post.
The Astor previewed a double-bill Monday with Alien and Aliens next week - and I have to say I find the idea of traveling to Windsor to see those two movies again very tempting.