FILM REVIEW: The Dream Palace @ Tyneside Cinema, Newcastle | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Image by Allan Mushen

The Dream Palace is screening at Tyneside Cinema until Saturday 31st March.

The nation’s last surviving, still operating purpose-built newsreel picture house, the Tyneside Cinema has been many things to many people; crushed red velvet drapery and Middle East-inspired mosaics an indelible backdrop to those tales told through celluloid, alongside those lived in real time by the myriad of people who have walked its halls.

A jewel then – perhaps the jewel – in the crown of the regional cultural scene, the storied venue has regenerated persistently across eight decades, transforming from rolling news picture palace to local film society hub, boundary-pushing transgressor to rundown arthouse, reborn independent cinema icon to…what?

In a world of proliferating streaming services, augmented reality and major filmmakers skipping theatrical release entirely, The Dream Palace doesn’t answer the question of what’s next, eschewing what could be in favour of a deft and touching postcard of what was, and the people whose lives it transformed.

Andrea Riseborough, Ken Loach and Mark Cousins join audience members and ex-staff to tell the story, not just of the Tyneside but of cinema itself, in a smartly choreographed skip through space and time carefully crafted by director Alex Ayre.

Tales that could fill a feature of their own are merely glimpsed while others go untold or forgotten. The moments and characters within offer a peek behind that crimson curtain, illuminating a venue that survives because it knows in its very bricks that the tear falling down the face of Liz Taylor is nothing without the people who make it shine, and the people who come and see.


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