" Synchromysticism:
The art of realizing meaningful coincidence in the seemingly mundane with mystical or esoteric significance."

- Jake Kotze

October 11, 2019

Once Upon a Time ... in the Regent Theatre?

One of my favourite Brisbane cinemas would have been turning 90 years old next month, if there was more than just a facade of it left.
It opened on Friday the 8th of November 1929 and this year November 8th also falls on a Friday.
When I went to see the movie 'Ride Like a Girl' the day after my own birthday at a local cinema I stopped to have a look at a display in the cinema entrance that had historical photos of cinemas that are no longer around and one of them was the Regent Theatre in the CBD of Brisbane.
Waiting in cinema 1 for 'Ride Like a Girl' to start
'Little Women' trailer in cinema 1 before the movie
After seeing this display of former local cinemas, I wondered how long the one I was in that day would be around for.
Today there is only a facade and entrance left remaining of what used to be a great theatre.
And the last time I visited the old site in March 2018 it was an information centre.
What is left of it is still impressive, but it's also a little sad knowing what is now gone forever and only to be seen in photos and the memories in my head, which are both fading away with the past.
Even the old Wintergarden Theatre is now nothing but just a name on a shopping arcade entrance.
This is a shot of Queen Street before I was born, but it looks more familiar to me than the Queen Street of today, which I rarely visit anymore.
I was reading a book today about the Regent by Michael T Gillies titled 'The Regent: Brisbane's Motion Picture Cathedral', which I bought a few years back and I was surprised to read that the opening show in the theatre was a combination of vaudeville-style dance acts, organ solos, orchestral music, a new Movietone newsreel of the [1929?] Melbourne Cup, a speech by the Prime Minister and two short films, ending with the feature film, Fox Movietone Follies of 1929.
Looking at that 1929 Melbourne Cup newsreel was a little different compared to watching the first female jockey (wouldn't that make a good motion picture?-) win in 2015.
My losing 2015 Melbourne Cup ticket
I had $20 a win at 50-1 odds on horse #5 (Big Orange) and it ran 5th (and $10 a place), which kind of sounds like a joke Kirby Surprise would tell you (around the 34th minute in the You Tube below).
What a Payne!?
Considering the nostalgic Tarantino movie based around the Hollywood of 50 years ago I was surprised to see the IMDB rating of 6.9 on a movie that opened the Regent 90 years ago next month.
There was even a photo in Michael's book showing Sharon Tate's movie 'Valley of the Dolls' screening at the Regent around 1969.
I think the last movie I saw in the Regent before the huge cinema was made into a four-cinema complex, was 'Chariots of the Gods', which was great seeing it on the big screen after seeing it on TV in the 70s so often.
Unless that was just a screen memory and we actually saw that movie down the road at Her Majesty's Theatre, which was ripped down to build a Hilton hotel?-)
My cousin, a friend and I almost had the huge cinema all to ourselves for that screening, which made it all the more eerie contemplating whether aliens had visited the earth in the distant past.
Seeing a film at the Regent always felt to me like a spiritual experience, whether seeing a film there with my grandmother when I was real young, or catching the bus into town as a young teenager to catch a film there.
It would have been nice to see a film like 'Once Upon a Time ... in Hollywood' up on that big screen in the Regent's 90th year, but that's like wishing Sharon Tate was still with us in 2019.
And that kind of stuff only happens in the movies, doesn't it?-)

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