Cinema and bar bring back good old days

Intimate: seven seats wide, the Golden Age offers a unique movie, music and social experience. Photo: Douglas Lance Gibson
Intimate: seven seats wide, the Golden Age offers a unique movie, music and social experience. Photo: Douglas Lance Gibson

Every social interaction, with even our closest friends, is marked by the telling of stories, from how awful lunch was and how stingy the boss, to the big stories of love and loss in life.

We tell them over drinks and food, on the train (even in quiet carriages) over the phone and even to ourselves. They fill novels and movies, TV shows and interviews, the news, history books and cookbooks and advertisements.

It’s even in our religions – there’s a narrative at the heart of them all. I don’t pretend to know why, but it’s enough to note that it is somehow essential to the experience of being human in any age.

Film and Television are arguably the prime media by which we participate in the endless storytelling of humanity. The comparison between the television and the campfire of the past as the centre of the modern ritual of storytelling has been made many times.

Photo: Charles Dennington
Photo: Charles Dennington

This is especially true given the increasing saturation of streaming services. These are cheaper and easier with a far greater variety available than we ever found at the movie theatre. Why, then, do cinemas continue to operate?

Golden Age Cinema and Bar, in Surry Hills is perhaps the clearest answer. It turns the participation in narrative, in story, into an event.

The cinema is built upon what might be described as the old Paramount Pictures base in Sydney from the 1940s to the 70s.

The cinema was the space where film executives would watch the latest offerings, the film proposals and final cuts.

Photo: Charles Dennington
Photo: Charles Dennington

Now refurbished and done up in classic art-deco style, stepping inside is stepping out of the world and into the past, where countless stories have been told before (without the stale popcorn on the floor so familiar in other cinemas).

Its 56 seats hail from Zurich, and are authentic to the 1940s. The deep character of the space itself is complemented by the movie program on offer.

The regular showings include some of the latest blockbusters, peppered with classics, cult films, independent movies, and even the occasional local filmmaker’s shorts.

Beyond merely showing films, the Golden Age has a small cocktail bar attached.

Live music from the Sydney scene plays most Thursday and Friday nights, with Film Trivia once a month. Meanwhile, the bar mixes a mean Martini for the post-movie arguments about what the hero should have done, or a pre-movie wind down.

Photo: Douglas Lance Gibson
Photo: Douglas Lance Gibson

The story of the Golden Age is perhaps best summed up in its own words from its website: ‘Think of Golden Age as the femme fatale, the leading man, and the sassy best friend all in one … the good old days are now.’

We will never stop telling stories or listening to them. For the full experience of story, of those invaluable perspectives on life, the Golden Age answers the call deep within the heart. The call to fall in love with life all over again.

The Golden Age Cinema and Bar is located at Paramount House, 80 Commonwealth Street, Surry Hills.