The Lexi… 4 years on
(4 Years from MMMs first visit to it)
Still one of a KIND* if not more so than ever before.
*KIND being the operative word [Keep reading to see what these guys do!]
Well, what can I say?
I first visited this unique cinema in 2011… apparently. What? Don’t I know?! OK, I have this review article to base these facts on:
Having, in the past, also been a member of this cinema for at least one year, and also returning for the odd screening I can now honestly say that I love this beautiful and quaint, and ethically productive venue more than ever before.
You see, upon this latest visit to this place, and after quite a gap they’ve recently spruced up the joint. It’s not even as if it was in any way tardy or depreciating but, and therefore, I use the verb ‘spruced’ in an ‘changing’ kind of way.
I will say that this article’s visit was towards the end of 2015 – September, to be precise – and just before my massive trip to Asia.
I do recall this picturehouse – and I don’t refer to those seemingly innocent “Picturehouse” cinemas in parts of London, who really are less ‘independent’ than they make out, I believe – having a refurb not so long ago, and this would be my first visit since then. I also recall that the change had affected a little season of classic films they were due to screen, which I very almost expressed my interest in. How did I know? Well, I do receive emails from The Lexi guys, as well as check their website every now and then.
But why is this cinema so different to [any] others in the UK, and probably many other places in the world? I’ll come to that later. However, you could definitely use the word ‘alternative’ for this particular cinema – and as luck would have it, on the bus stop outside the premises another film-related event (and a just cause one… even ‘alternative’ in itself) is advertised, and in the background? The word “ALTERNATIVE”. Such great timing, coincidence and angle… if I do say so myself!
For now, picture a virtual tour but without a fancy website and just my average photographs [I didn’t take my SLR with me, nor did I have the very latest smartphone], plus a below par description, and sit back. Perhaps as if you were indeed in the Lexi cinema seats themselves.
The exterior still looks all of Standalone, Stand-back-in-amazement & Stand-and-Stare and as we open the pink laminated gate, we lament and look a tad in awe at the whole building. The pinked out windows are all still there, the beautiful triangular building ‘face’, complete with the name of a company (who I discovered injected monies in this project some time ago) and film posters in frames outside – such posters, in frames, not all that different from other cinemas, big or small.
However, a couple of things which, frankly I can’t recall if were there previously or not, are visible. A unique placard, you could say, leans against the wall and includes a line from one of the Hannibal Lecter films and so, on a wall, does a lovely painted image of Alfred Hitchcock.
It may be worth mentioning that I queried as to why the pink gate stated Kensal Rise under the Lexi wording / logo, as I swore there was no other [Lexi] cinema in London… But perhaps not the only one in the UK?
No… Apparently, it IS as unique as I stated previously. The Kensal Rise wording is simply so that people know they’ve found the right place – it’s not in the very centre of the area but if you were to miss the ‘loud but lush’ building face, you’d certainly not miss the gate nor the Kensal Rise wording.
Oh and I should also mention the flagpole-like Lexi sign. Another affirmation and confirmation that you’re at the right place.
So, we enter into the foyer and to the left are Stairs.
Feel free to Stare at the Stairs as maybe they lead to Stars… in more ways than one.
Indeed, if you were to take a walk up them, they would take you to a special box from where the film can be viewed and where you’ll also have some privacy, maybe from the popcorn-muchchers, chitchatters or kidchatters. Yes, they hold special parent and pre-adult (ok… children!) screenings too!
Directly in front of you, you’ll see a Nice Neon sign… Well, two if you like, and a display of their popcorn in a little cabinet.
To the right? The box office. Again, popcorn behind it – but in a glass box this time – and other titbits to purchase and snack on.
Once in possession of your ticket, or membership ‘pack’ take a few steps and into… well, one of two other rooms. Yes, this small foyer really has that many options but one of these is the NEW gallery area… But I’ll come back ‘around’ to that area, as that’s how I discovered it, after all… from its other entrance. So the other room? The main feature, you could say – the auditorium. It’s grande, yet petite. And I’ve always loved it.
You only have to look upwards to see why! I don’t mean the screen, although a perfect size and having just witnessed a very commercial film [Jurassic World – in fact, commercial in many ways… I’ll explain in a later article perhaps] in this place, I can also vouch that the sound is not ear-bustingly loud, like the multitude of multiplexes around, and indeed some ‘independent’ cinemas.
What I’m referring, alluding and pointing to here is the colour-changing bulb collection above some of the seating area – I say ‘some’ but it’s so large it feels a little like its above the whole room area! This is one of now at least 2 beautiful of works of art present at The Lexi Cinema, or installations if you prefer to call them that.
So, the seats, of which there are a little over 60 of them, I believe, are a combination of typical or 1) classic cinema seats and 2) chairs with or without tables… so, perhaps that’s 3 types! Why not have a decent sized coffee, for only £1.50 or a luscious hot chocolate for just £2.20, for the film? Yep, I had both during my stay on this occasion.
Talking of decent size though, but this is hardly a major qualm, certain mugs will not fit the cup holders on the seats. But why not hold it in your hand…? Imagine a cup of cocoa or soup, in your hands and lap on a cold Winter’s day [are there any non-cold Winters… in the UK, at least?!] or simply rest it on the floor.
Enough with the enchanting auditorium. Let’s step out through the opposite door, opposite to the one we entered through. What do we see? Well, a bar at first but a larger one than before this refurbishment. I’m pretty sure of that.
To the right, is comfy seating, a sight pleasing bookshelf, complete with books, of course, and a more discreet entrance to lavatories.
But turn the other way and you’ll see more space… and then, running alongside the auditorium is a sublime and stylish gallery.
It’s made up of what I would call adaptable pictures-come-tables and chairs. They’re extremely sturdy, despite how they may look. Beautiful.
Words really can’t explain this section of the venue enough. I was told a little bit about the artist and I’m sure you will be if you visit this outstanding yet oft little known cinema.
So, from that area, we head back through a small avenue, an ‘avenue’ in ‘a venue’, if you will. This tiny walkway is interesting in itself, in its own little way, and more worth mentioning than the extra toilet/s which are also close by! Anyway, we head ‘all the way’ back to the main foyer and box office, and that original front door.
The following explains what The LEXI does, and almost EXcLusIvely (see what MMM did there?!) does, compared to any other such venues on this not-so-fair isle, or indeed for many, many, many miles. This exact wording can be found in one of three links below the excerpt – see if you can find the actual one… It differs slightly to the other two.
Anyhow… from MMM’s previous article:
“To play on the word Sexy a little would be to give away perhaps more than one should about this truly dark & remarkable picture. Instead, go and see this movie and if it’s still playing at the same venue, go & get Sexi at the Lexi.
A Mini Mini Moving story of the Lexi… from their own words:
The Lexi Cinema – The UK’s First Social Enterprise Boutique Cinema
“100% of The Lexi’s profits go towards improving the quality of life for the people of Lynedoch Village in Stellenbosch, South Africa.
Every ticket, every membership you buy, every bowl of popcorn, every glass of wine and every event you hold at The Lexi goes towards making a real difference to the lives of the families at Lynedoch.”
In fact, all three articles can be found here – yes I made a section [a tag, anyway] for LEXI.
So, just like the Dinosaurs in the film I saw that day and most Spielberg characters in general, The Lexi Cinema is a little Larger Than Life.
[It was either that as a final paragraph or I’d resort to making a Dr Who reference and state how big the Lexi is inside, compared to how it seems on the outside – i.e. TARDIS]
A TWEET From That DAY: Just seen a T-REXI at T(he)-LEXI (@TheLexiCinema)! #JurassicWorld = Mo-REXI-lent than I ‘feared’…?😉
LINKS… and one LAST thing:
Heard of the Nomad Cinema? Firstly, it’s nothing to do with Mini Mini’s sister company (http://www.NativeNomadPictures.com / http://www.Vimeo.com/channels/NativeNomadPictures) even if we do ‘make cinema’, but NO, something which many exquisite venues take part in. The Lexi Cinema are also one of those, and you can check out the other beautiful places here:
For your investigation:
@TheLexiCinema (Twitter & Instagram)
Finally, a photo borrowed from…