Saturday, May 24, 2008

The Case for Another Era's End

Sad to see the demise of yet another cinema complex, though in a fairly Darwinian way, it is nice to see the survival of the most fit as the poorer contenders become extinct.

While the Rialto Wellington has always shown a great selection of non-mainstream fare, the Rialto was obviously never designed for comfort: the seats are hard and small; the cinemas small cold; and the walls mostly unadorned concrete slabs. Even when it's candy bar was paving the way with wine and coffee, the fact the Rialto's screens actually became smaller when the film came on (to give them the wide screen ratio for films, while the squarer advertisements filled the whole square screen) always gave me the impression the cinema was not destined for longevity - at least not without a major overhaul.

Now the site is getting a revamp, but not with the improvement of the Rialto in mind. No, the whole site is being turned into apartments. And soon the Rialto will be no more.

The fact the Rialto was never comfortable means I am not really going to shed a whole lot of tears for the complex's demise, especially considering the newly-multiplexed Paramount and the Lighthouses fill the "alternative film" role quite nicely. But I will remember the good times, much like with Hoyts Lower Hutt: I remember seeing the universally panned but shamelessly enjoyed
Tank Girl there; I remember being amazed, perplexed and totally amused by the off the wall Living in Oblivion, with the wonderful Katherine Keener; and I recall the old "view 9, get 1 film free" loyalty cards that were only around for about a year.

Now the Rialto is on its last legs: movies cannot screen during the day due to the noise from the construction next door, and, come early June, the doors will close for a final time.

Verdict: Another one bites the dust - almost literally. While it's heart and soul were in the right place, the Rialto's passing will not be mourned as much as perhaps I should due to the fact it was a damned uncomfortable place to watch movies. 3 Jaffas out of 5.

And while I am not quite in the Fisherman's league, I have been taking the odd snap on my way along the Wellington waterfront on the way to work in the mornings, and with the current weather, some of those autumn mornings have been utterly gorgeous...

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