Tag Archives: Birmingham

359 – Wonderland: Birmingham’s Cinema Stories

Listen on the players above, Apple Podcasts, Audible, Google Podcasts, or Spotify.

Flatpack Festival and Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery are running a marvellous exhibition until 30th October 2022: Wonderland tells stories of filmgoing and cinema culture in Birmingham. It begins with the earliest days of cinematic experimentation, including a visit from Eadweard Muybridge to demonstrate his moving images, through the glory days of the picture palaces in the 1930s and 40s, the influence of Asian and Caribbean immigration, and the slump of the 1980s, to where we are today, with a combination of multiplexes and more specialised venues, including, of course, the Electric, which continues to proudly boast the title of the UK’s oldest working cinema.

It’s a densely packed exhibition, full of elegantly and concisely organised information, focusing not only on places and eras but also people: individual attention is given to notable figures such as Iris Barry, the UK’s first female film critic, Waller Jeffs, who popularised cinema in the 1900s with his annual seasons at the Curzon Hall and travelling show, and Oscar Deutsch, the Balsall Heath-born creator of the Odeon brand, the first cinema of which opened in Perry Barr in 1930.

Wonderland: Birmingham’s Cinema Stories is free to visit at BMAG until October 30th, and it’s a must-see for anyone interested in filmgoing in Birmingham. The history it describes is cultural, technological, social and economic, and it’s beautifully curated and designed to do just that. It’s also got a big interactive map in the middle where you can look for your house and see the five cinemas that used to be on your road back in 1940. Don’t miss it.

With José Arroyo of First Impressions and Michael Glass of Writing About Film.

53 – Ready Player One

Ready Player One is a strange beast, crammed full of energy and references on the one hand, amounting to nothing on the other. José dislikes it. Mike kind of likes it. To say it’s flawed is understating it, but there are interesting ideas to probe. Who is the film aimed at? How does it have its cake and eat it? Is it making interesting decisions, mistakes, or both simultaneously? What can we make of a film that references other work not as Easter eggs but as the very cloth from which it’s cut?

Mike wishes it was more cutting, more biting, about the ideas it raises and the nerds it seeks to please. José just wants it to end.

Also: It was shot in Birmingham! Mike even went to go and see it during filming just one road over from his flat. What he saw was a couple of cars driving, once, and almost nothing else of note. He would never admit that though. As far as he’s concerned, he is best mates with Steven Spielberg.

The podcast can be listened to in the player above or on iTunes.

With José Arroyo of First Impressions and Michael Glass of Writing About Film.