It's not often that Grace and I go to the cinema in the St Albans area. Hatfield Odeon used to be our nearest, but long before this 9-screen monster was even conceived, St Albans had its own small Odeon. But that was closed decades ago, and fell into a sad state of disrepair. Locals feared it would be demolished to make way for a McDonald's Drive-Thru (because we all need one of those so badly) or housing (which we DO need, but NOT the stupidly expensive properties which keep appearing in the city), but it was finally bought by a man who had already refurbished an old cinema, The Rex, in nearby Berkhamsted. And in due course, our old, crumbling picture-house was beautifully renovated.
We paid it a visit yesterday, to see "Bridge of Spies".
"During the Cold War, the Soviet Union captures U.S. pilot Francis Gary Powers after shooting down his U-2 spy plane. Sentenced to 10 years in prison, Powers' only hope is New York lawyer James Donovan (Tom Hanks), recruited by a CIA operative to negotiate his release. Donovan boards a plane to Berlin, hoping to win the young man's freedom through a prisoner exchange. If all goes well, the Russians would get Rudolf Abel (Mark Rylance), the convicted spy who Donovan defended in court." (imdb.com)
The film was brilliant. Grace thought it was a bit slow to start with, and it is a long film at 2 hours 21 minutes, but I don't mind slow usually. Based on a true story, it's tense, gripping, intelligent. We loved it.
So too did we love the Odyssey experience. Where the Odeon had had a second screen added in a most clumsy and ugly way, the renovation returned the place to a single screen. It's spacious, comfortable and beautiful. I think it's the only cinema I've ever been in where the seats don't swing up when you leave them, and don't need to because the space in front of the seated viewer is perfectly adequate for people to pass in front of them without any need for anyone to stand up to let them by. Most seats are single and in rows, as normal, but there are also sofas for two, and seats arranged around small tables, at which the viewer can eat and drink while they watch.
I would have expected a visit to a very classy cinema like this to be expensive. It was cheaper than any we've visited in the past five years. Just £5 a ticket for us over-60s. Even their Maltesers were cheaper! The Odyssey in St Albans is well worth a visit.