We had made our way to East Belfast and met up outside the Strand then headed over to the row of shops on the Belmont Road to find somewhere to eat. We had just finished work and the movie wasn't due to start for a couple of hours so were eager to get some grub in us. We were torn between the Gourmet Burger restaurant and Bennetts on Belmont. In the end, after some expert decision making using a game of chance, we headed into Bennetts and were seated in a booth by the window. Not one of us had ever been here before so we didn't know what to expect. We ordered from what was quite a varied menu and got chatting. It wasn't long until the food arrived and it was an amazingly pleasant surprise because the setting seems a little understated for the presentation and quality of food we were presented with. The portions were quite big, the chips were delicious and the spiced chicken naan bread sandwich type thing I ordered was delicious too! Everyone really enjoyed their meals and I think the general consensus was we'd be back there if ever we find ourselves out that way again. Though we were eyeing up the desserts we held off in favour of sweets for during the film. We weren't hurried out of the cafe/restaurant and sat there a fair while. After we'd finished some hot drinks we made our way over to the old cinema.
Inside the foyer is relatively small but all nicely laid out, one refreshment counter and one ticket booth. We headed to the latter and were instead directed to the screen. Once we had our refreshments we made our way into the room and paid the lady our money. The room was, how to put this... ermm, quaint.
Its hard to describe but I'll give it a go. The room sloped, both down towards the screen but also about a meter sideways over the width of the room meaning you were sat slanted to the screen slightly. This was a little odd but it kind of added to the experience. The other issue with the room was the ceiling which was coming apart in places but it didn't flake on us so we can't really complain - who looks at a roof anyway?
About 15 people joined us and the movie began. There was a slight technical hitch at first; to begin with the screen wasn't sized properly, we were watching wide-screen stretched people, then it was out of focus but before long it was corrected and we got on with enjoying the show.
I'd never seen the movie before so I wasn't sure what to expect other than being told it was a musical about a musical. I found it very funny but maybe for the wrong reasons. On-stage spanking tipped me over the edge and don't even get me started about the lady being thrown over a donkey. If you fancy seeing the main reason why we all ended up in fits of suppressed and not so suppressed laughter though, fast forward to about 2:06 of this youtube clip...
There was something of a plot, though it tailed out towards the end and was replaced by tap dancing and jazz, which was probably more apt than a meaningful conclusion. It was light-hearted and a 'frolic' throughout though, a post-war happy-go-lucky number worth seeing, even if its not at a cinema. I guess that's what the festival was supposed to be about, getting out there and watching some examples of the films you maybe would not have chance to enjoy on the big screen any other time. So all in all it was a success and left us giggling all the way home like the big kids we are.