Just like a movie night at Grandma’s

Illustration of Diane Keaton and Woody Allen in 'Annie Hall' IMAGE: Renia Metallinou

Sitting down to the long-table dining at Cafe Nova felt like a throw-back to Sunday lunch at Grandma’s. The settings were neatly placed, complete with scenic photos adorning cork place-mats, and all around us kitschy trinkets were grouped with a “more is more” approach to interior styling. Strangers struck up conversation across the tables and an almost tangible sense of shared passion for film hung in the air as people swapped their memories and expectations for the evening ahead.

It is certainly the perfect place for Townsville Classic Films’ Cafe Series Screenings of hard to find films and forgotten classics.

Last night’s feature flick was Woody Allen’s 1977 rom-com, Annie Hall. This is a film that’s been on my personal must-watch list for several years now, but has consistently lost out to new releases or the latest binge-worthy series, so when I heard Townsville Classic Films was screening the Oscar-Winner, I quickly booked my spot for dinner and a movie.

For cine-files, nostalgia-lovers and those who enjoy a unique night out, I’d give this experience a big thumbs up.

While the food was simple, there was something charming about the homestyle fare in that particular setting. It really did feel like it had been dished up by Grandma, and I half expected to hear my Grandfather yelling at the projector screen for the first 20 minutes of the film. This was a sensation that was only magnified when chocolate-coated ice-creams were passed around 10-minutes into the movie and I couldn’t help but grin to myself in the dark as I my teeth made the first crack in that chocolate shell.

Mark Enders, who founded Townsville Classic Films, has an unmistakable love for what he does.

Before screening Annie Hall, Mark treated the audience to an installment of the 1940s’ film serial The Green Hornet.

“We’ve been screening classic films for about five years now and in that time I’ve come to see there are two types of people we attract,” said Mark as he introduced the short “people who love The Green Hornet and people who don’t yet realise they love The Green Hornet.”

I suspect I’m in the latter camp. The dialogue was a little cheesy for my liking and I laughed in places I don’t think I was supposed to laugh, but I can appreciate the film-making for the escapism it would have offered cinema-goers when it was first released.

What I really loved about this experience was Mark’s brief pre- and post-show commentary. He talked about how Diane Keaton’s costumes inspired fashion of the late 70s’, how re-enactments from pivotal scenes made their way into pop culture including one notable episode of Fawlty Towers and how Allen’s non-liner plot and frequent breaking of cinema’s fourth-wall was groundbreaking at the time. He also warned us to be on the look out for cameos from actors that would become big stars in the years that followed – and the keen-eyed watchers among us were richly rewarded with many familiar faces.

The film itself was delightful, as expected – and I was completely hooked from Allen’s opening monologue to the very end of credit roll.

It’s easy to see that Townsville Classic Films has nailed their delivery of classic films. Bringing people together in an intimate big-screen-showing of some of the best films from bygone eras is genius; the setting carries an in-built ice-breaker for first time guests, while serial attendees are all too happy to induct them into the fold.

I’m thoroughly looking forward to Townsville Classic Films’ next showing – a Mystery Musical on 26 March 2017.

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