The Curzon Cinema in Ripon is a contemporary cathedral of culture, offering a sanctuary for inspiration, reflection and comfort to all comers.
When it opened in October last year, the Curzon brought the movies back to Ripon for the first time in 31 years. Once upon a time, the little city boasted three picture houses but the last one, the Palladium on Kirkgate, closed in 1982 after showing films for 66 years (Clint Eastwood’s Firefox was its swansong).
The new Curzon Ripon is on North Street, in what had been a large furniture store, although it had been closed for several years until the owners decided to convert it into a cinema and restaurant complex.
Seriously stylish it is too. In fact, it feels special as soon as you walk through the doors, somewhere to rest and stay, to explore and take in. On the ground floor, there’s a bar/cafe/restaurant to the right and a lounge to the left, behind the box office area. Both are cool, relaxed areas, ideal for taking a break, having a drink, grabbing a bite and reading the paper. On the boards and menus are wines, craft beers and locally-sourced food.
But this is, of course, a cinema first and foremost. There are two screens, with the state-of-the-art sound systems and superb digital projection that Curzon is renowned for. We saw the Coen Brothers’ Inside Llewyn Davis in a cinema that seats about 50 people with a screen about the size of the side of a largish van. It’s cosy, but not unpleasantly so. It combines luxury with homeliness, as if you were a guest invited to an exclusive screening in the palatial, specially designed cinema room at the home of some eccentric Hollywood billionaire. Both the sound and the visual quality were indeed superb, the best I have heard and seen, and it felt so good to be on the same level as the screen, not peering upwards at it.
Best of all is the programme of films. Curzon is an arthouse cinema chain with six venues across London and one in Knutsford and it plays quality mainstream and smaller, indie-style and world cinema. Films upcoming and advertised as I write include: The Book Thief; We Are The Best; The Invisible Woman; Dallas Buyers Club; The Selfish Giant; The Monuments Men; Bastards; Her; Stranger by the Lake (a French film by Alain Guiraudie described as a “seductive thriller” and “exotic, erotic and explicit”).
There are welcome revisits too, to old classics, such as The Godfather II, Cinema Paradiso and the thoughtful timing of Breakfast at Tiffany’s, which will be shown on February 14.
Curzon Ripon clearly aims to place itself right at the heart of city community. There’s a Kids Club and quiz nights (see below) and also a fantastic programme of live events, screening on-the-night performance from the English National Opera, the Royal Shakespeare Company, the National Theatre and the Royal Opera House. See below for upcoming events scheduled as I write. You can pre-order drinks, get a cast list, but booking’s advised.
Incidentally, Curzon also has a home cinema service, Curzon Home Cinema, through which you can watch new releases at home, or anywhere. Go to www.CurzonHomeCinema.com to find out more. It’s a great idea and well worth investigating.
Ticket prices are very reasonable: Adults, £8.50 (peak) and £6.26 (early bird), with £6/£5 concessions and £5 a child. Curzon Ripon is open every day, week days 12.35-11pm, from 10.30am on Saturday and Sunday. You can book on www.curzoncinemas.com/ripon and on 0330 500 1331. You can become a member too and get reduced rates and offers (again, see the website).
Some upcoming events at Curzon Ripon
Feb 12: ROH Live – Mozart’s Don Giovanni
Feb 13: The Geek Pub Quiz presents The Movie Quiz at the cinema from 8pm, £2 entry.
Feb 14: Breakfast at Tiffany’s (booking essential)
Feb 23: ENO Live – Peter Grimes
Feb 27: NT Live – War Horse (sold out already but an encore performance has been requested)
March 1: Borodin’s Prince Igor
March 15: Massanet’s Werther
March 19: ROH Live – The Sleeping Beauty
April 5: La Boheme
April 26: Cosi Fan Tutte
April 28: ROH Live – The Winter’s Tale
May 1: NT Live – King Lear